A senior Toronto police officer was recognized among role models in the Chinese community.
Superintendent Peter Yuen was one of six people to receive a Chinese Canadian Legend Award on Saturday, Nov. 8.
Yuen is the highest ranking officer of Chinese heritage on the Toronto Police Service. On receiving the award Yuen said it was for the organization.
“Twenty-seven- years ago when I joined the organization all I wanted to do was the best job I can, and without the nurturing without the mentoring and without the team, without the support of all the people in the organization I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
The award ceremony was organized by the Asian Business Network Association and attended by over 400 people. Amongst the many guests present were former Prime Minister Paul Martin, the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba Philip Lee and Chief Bill Blair.
Other recipients of the award were Grace Chum, a Chinese Canadian business woman, widely recognized as a Canada-China economic expert, Dr. Stephen Hwang a leading world expert in research in the area of homelessness, housing and health, Professor David Chuenyan Lai a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria, Dr. Victor Ling a world renowned cancer scientist and entrepreneur Royson Ng.
Yuen joined the Service after feeling lost and at a crossroads in life, taking a break from university and was spending time in Ottawa with friends. At that point he saw an advertisement for police recruitment.
“It was just a coincidence that I saw an advertisement that they needed diversity and I thought it was a good time. I walked in and I had no expectations and I was hired, so life set its path and that’s the path that was set for me,” said Yuen.
Since that day, 27 years ago, the superintendent worked in many different areas of policing, from frontline policing to organized crime undercover work to Homicide.
In 1990, while working undercover, Yuen had a close call, which left the officer with greater appreciation for life. He was almost killed by gangsters while infiltrating an illegal gambling house. When his identity was compromised after every wallet in the room was collected and his badge was found, he was badly beaten up and then a gun was put into his mouth. The bullet jammed in the barrel and Yuen survived. He told Connie Woo of the Canadian Chinese Legend Awards that after that he felt that each person “is but a speck of dust in the universe, in the blink of an eye the dust turns into nothing.”
Since that day, Yuen has gone on to being promoted to sergeant in 1996, staff sergeant in 2000 and to inspector in 2006. In 2012, he was promoted to staff inspector. Finally in January this year, Yuen took the post of superintendent, overseeing 55 Division.
Over the years he has been a mentor to many. Many of those he mentored came to the Chinese Canadian Legend Awards to show support for the Superintendent.
“Peter has been a great support to me, he has provided me with guidance and has been there to give me his insight. He has taught me on how to become an outstanding police officer,” said Sergeant Randall Lee.
For Constable Dennis Chen, who worked under Yuen’s supervision “he is the boss everybody loves.”
Yuen’s response to this is humble. “I know what I achieved today is nothing compared to what the new generation will bring. We are looking at future police chiefs and future command officers. If I can assist them on their way to being successful than I am very grateful,” said Yuen.
At the end of the day, Yuen’s love and respect for TPS is apparent, he says the award is not for him. “This is to validate the organization (TPS) making its mark in the Chinese community…ensuring that we have equal access and equal opportunity.”
His advice to young officer is simple, “No matter what rank you are, this is a great organization. If you work hard you are going to achieve your goals,” said Yuen before receiving his award.