After seven years working in retail and customer service, Qian Yang wanted to do more with his “people person” skills.
“I wanted to reach a bigger audience and I figured the best way I could do that was by becoming a police officer,” he said.
Yang, who joined the Toronto Police Service nine years ago, was the recipient of a Community Outreach Award presented on March 21 at the Mandarin Profile Awards gala at the Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre.
Shortly after joining the Divisional Policing Support Unit (DPSU) in 2014, after eight years at 33 Division, Yang launched an online outreach community initiative through 51.ca, a popular Chinese language web forum.
“This is something that bridges the gap between the police and the public and is intended to build trust,” he said, of sharing ideas and addressing concerns via the online forum. “I would post stories relating to our Service that our community may be interested in or pieces to address their concerns. The feedback is very positive.”
Yang, who migrated from central China in 1998, was among 18 nominees in his award category.
“This honour means a lot to me,” he said.
DPSU Inspector Dave Saunders said Yang is an important connection to the Chinese community.
“While the established Chinese community in the city are from Hong Kong generationally and they speak Cantonese, there are a lot of newcomers from mainland China who speak Mandarin,” said Saunders. “We needed someone with some language and cultural skills that could really engage the mainland Mandarin-speaking community. That’s Q's – as we all call him – forte and he’s very good at what he does. He deserves the recognition.”
Last January, Yang attended the funeral of New York Police Department Detective Wenjian Liu, who was killed in the line of duty.
“When we saw the spelling of his name, we knew he was from mainland China and we knew we had to go,” said Yang, who was joined at the funeral by several other TPS officers including Superintendent Peter Yuen.
Yang is relishing his job as a police officer.
“It’s the best job in the world,” he added. “No two days are ever the same. Every day brings a different challenge and experience. I like that.”