Edison Yon was at home, watching the Pride parade a few years ago, when a Toronto Police Auxiliary member’s lively interaction with the crowd caught his attention.
“He was having a good time with people while doing his job and I said I wanted to do that,” recalled Yon. “I applied and I have to admit that I thought it was a paid position.”
Upon learning that Auxiliaries are volunteers, he still pursued with the application process.
“It didn’t matter,” said Yon. “I wanted to do it even though I was not getting any money.”
An Auxiliary member for the last five years, Yon was the recipient of the William Blair Award, created last year by the Divisional Policing Support Unit, to honour an Auxiliary member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to community service.
The award was presented at the annual Auxiliary graduation on November 26 at the Toronto Police College.
“I am very honoured to be recognized for the work that I do,” said Yon, who was promoted to Sergeant in 2011.
Assigned to 13 Division after graduating in 2009, Yon chalked up 349 volunteer hours in his first year. In the spring of 2011, he participated in a Toronto Police Service project that helped compile lists of privately operated security cameras from local businesses and residences, providing investigators with a reference list of cameras within the Division.
Ed is keen, very responsible and a hard worker. He’s also a really warm person and his enthusiasm is contagious
Conceived by then-13 Division Crime Management Coordinator Detective Jack Gurr, the Caught in the Act system allows Divisional investigators to access maps and determine if any cameras are in close proximity to a crime scene.
“Edison spent several weekends, leading teams of Auxiliary officers, walking the neighbourhoods in the Division to gather information,” recalled Gurr, who is now at 14 Division. “He was instrumental in spreading the word through the community about the project and what we, as a Division, were trying to achieve. He and other members of his team made a huge difference.”
At 12 Division, after his promotion in 2011, Yon led a team that developed and implemented a Coach Officer Program and spearheaded the creation of dedicated roles for Auxiliary members that included serving as liaison officers on the Community Policing Liaison Committee and engaging in social media training.
Two years ago, Yon joined the Auxiliary Rapid Response Team (ARRT) and was instrumental in developing training material and the selection and interview process for ARRT candidates.
Last August, Yon transferred to 51 Division, where he’s in the Staff Sergeant promotional process.
“Ed is keen, very responsible and a hard worker,” said 51 Division Crime Prevention Officer Constable Lynne Robertson. “He’s also a really warm person and his enthusiasm is contagious.”
The director of planning & operations at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Yon shared the spotlight with Auxiliary Staff Sergeant Therese Kwok, who was presented with the James Gordon Carnegie Memorial Award which recognizes outstanding leadership skills and proven commitment to the community.
The award honours the legacy of the organization’s first Auxiliary officer, whose community involvement was extensive and distinguished for four decades before his passing 16 years ago.
“While it comes as a surprise, I am proud to be receiving such a prestigious award that honours the life of a trailblazer,” said Kwok, who joined the Service nine years ago.
Starting at 42 Division, she was reassigned to neighbouring 43 Division in 2012 after her staff sergeant promotion. With her at the helm, the Division’s volunteers have racked up the highest number of volunteer hours in the last two years.
“Therese gives so much to the community, both as a nurse and as an Auxiliary member,” said Constable Julie Campbell, the 43 Division Crime Prevention Officer. “She guides the young officers with getting their details done and provides any additional support they may need. She manages all of that and has never been late with a report.”
Working in partnership with the Division’s Community Response Unit Staff Sergeant Peter Moreira, Kwok has integrated Auxiliary officers into several of the Division’s crime prevention and community initiatives, including the ‘Lock it or Lose it’ campaign and the Danzig Toy Drive.
Despite her demanding full-time job as a registered nurse at The Scarborough Hospital for the last 26 years, Kwok posted 1,100 volunteer hours in 2012 and 2013.
“Therese is absolutely irreplaceable at our Division,” said Moreira. “She’s extremely easy to get along with and she motivates our Auxiliary officers to achieve things I don’t think they thought they could accomplish. She participates in as many events as she can, and her hours and effort cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents. It would break the bank if we tried to pay her for the volume of work she does.”
Also in charge of the 41 Division Auxiliary program, Kwok – with approval from Staff Sergeant Debra Houston -- introduced an Appreciation Night to recognize the Service’s volunteers at the Division for their exceptional community service.
Kwok is married to Auxiliary Inspector Tony Kwok, a Bell Canada manager who joined the Service 14 years ago.
“He used to come back home and tell me about all the wonderful things he was doing in the community and that sort of inspired me to join,” said Kwok.