Policing is about people who care about others, so deeply, that they are willing to walk into dangerous situations to help community citizens, said Humber College Associate Dean Dr. Jeanine Webber.
Webber delivered the keynote address at the annual Police Week kick-off on May 11, at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus.
The coordinator of the college’s criminal justice degree program, Webber has spearheaded several research projects at Humber, including the Toronto Police Service’s Neighbourhood Officer program.
“Policing is also about people who are willing to work on weekends and holidays so there is always someone available in someone’s time of need,” she said. “In order to improve the quality of our lives that we enjoy in our neighbourhoods, we, too, need to be willing and join in the work with Toronto Police Service to achieve an even safer city to live and work in. Think about how you might become involved in helping to make a difference within your community. Not every hero wears a cape.”
The former head of correctional programs for the Correctional Services of Canada (Ontario), Webber reminded police officers that the work they do is significant and invaluable.
“Sometimes, it might seem that the contributions that you make are small and insignificant, but I want to assure each of you who serve our community, that you truly do make a difference and that there is a cumulative impact for us,” she added.
Police Week is celebrated from May 10-16 this year. The theme is “Discovering Policing.”
Humber College Police Foundations graduate Clark Tapia, who intends to become a police officer, said he decided to pursue a policing career a few years ago.
“It’s something I saw myself doing as I got older,” said Tapia, a member of the Humber College Toronto Police Rover Crew. “Over the years, I have observed closely what police officers do and I feel it’s something that I could enjoy as a career.”
Acting Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, a Humber graduate, said Police Week provides an opportunity for the community to “come inside our doors.”
“When you do that, you have the ability to ask questions and look at our equipment,” he said. “We have such a unique array of policing responsibilities. It gives the public an opportunity to be educated on how we do business. This is important because, when we interact, we learn and, when we learn, we get to become better at policing this city.
“Policing is a continuously moving target. There is no one-size-fits-all and that’s what makes it so complex. That’s why we have over five different oversights on what we do on a daily basis. We get over two million calls a year from people who need help and we are there to deliver it for them and we do it right most times. And, when we don’t do it necessarily as right as we should, we sit back and critique it and look at it to try to figure out what can we do to make it better next time.”
Toronto Police Services Board member Marie Moliner, who has lived in 31, 14 and 11 Divisions in the last 35 years, said she discovered an example of community-based policing while working in the Parkdale community nearly three decades ago that she thinks is relevant today.
“There was a little trailer on the parking lot in front of the Parkdale library, where police officers had the door open and police members would come and go,” said. “That example, as basic as it sounds, made all the difference to people living in that community. It’s an example of what hyper-local policing looked like in the 1980s.”
Moliner addressed the issue of police recording information on those people it investigates on the street, encouraging the public to join the discussion.
“We have a new Chief and the community’s expectations are high,” she said. “I know that the Board, the Service and the community will continue to explore community expectations benchmarked against the evidence that the police say they need in order to keep our community safe. Because, at the end of the day, the social cost of carding is a public safety cost. So I am hopeful that the discussions that take place during this Police Week will explore those ideas.”