Many dreams are being fulfilled as 47 new constables join the ranks of the Toronto Police Service at a graduation ceremony at the Toronto Police College on May 13 at noon.
For Allistair Blair, it is a special moment for himself and his family.
He’s following in the footsteps of his grandfather – Gerald Fowler – who was a senior officer in the Guyana Police Force and his father-in-law – William Smith -- who is a constable with the Halifax Regional Police and will present Blair with his badge.
“I guess you could say policing is in my blood,” said Blair, who migrated at age 10 from Guyana with his family. “Growing up, I admired looking at my grandfather in his uniform. That was very inspirational for me and planted a seed that, perhaps someday, I would be doing a similar job. That day has arrived and I am over the moon.”
Blair graduated in 2009 from Halifax’s St. Mary’s University, where he was a star football running back with the Huskies.
“Playing football taught me discipline and how to operate in a team environment, which will serve me well in my new profession,” he said. “It also allowed me to be better able to deal with the physical training I had to endure. The only thing that was challenging was the cardio aspect since it’s more about endurance when you are doing the training to become a police officer.”
Recaredo Bronilla, who played professional hockey in the United States and Europe for 18 years, also said that playing sport at a high level made the transition comfortable for him.
“I was constantly training for 11 months of the year and, when the season ended, I took two weeks off before getting back to work,” he said. “Each year was a contract year for me, so I had to be in great shape all the time to retain a job. I was physically and mentally prepared for the high quality of training recruits have to endure.”
After graduating from high school, Bronilla spent five years playing in the United States in the East Coast Hockey League, before heading to Europe where he played three seasons in England, six in Germany and two in Austria. He also had a short stint in Slovakia.
Policing as a viable profession appeared on his radar as his sports career was winding down.
“I had a few teammates who came back to Canada and joined police services,” said Bronilla. “Talking to them about their experiences certainly helped with the decision to become a police officer, since the other option was firefighting. I love helping people and working with youths, so I knew this was going to be a good fit for me.”
Kristine Kiss always wanted to become a police officer.
“Policing was something I wanted to do as long as I could remember. I have always had great respect for police officers and I am so happy that I am going to be one of them.”
Born in Calgary, Kiss attended high school in Burlington and graduated from Mohawk College with a diploma in Media Communications. She was the head gardener at the Rock Golf Course before applying to be a cop.
“This is my first experience in law enforcement, so everything is new to me,” she said. “I enjoyed the training and being in the company of other recruits. Graduation day will be a bittersweet moment for me. I am going to miss some of the recruits I became close with but, on the other hand, it’s the start of the next chapter in the journey and I am looking forward to it.”
Making the transition from court officer to police officer was seamless for Andrew Mason.
Assigned to fill Divisional booking spots at 41 Division provided him with a bird’s-eye view of uniform police operations.
A court officer for eight years, Mason said the training was intense and of the highest standard.
“I expected that, but I didn’t anticipate how much ‘book-smarts’ is required,” he added.
Mason also didn’t count on meeting his wife-to-be when he joined 41 Division.
He and station operator Caitlin Carter – the daughter of retired Toronto Police officer Scott Carter – will tie the knot in May 2016.
A total of 87.2 per cent of this year’s graduating class have post-secondary education and 27.7 per cent have previous military or policing experience.
In addition, 28 cadets speak a language or more other than English, 55.3 per cent speak another language other than English and 27.7 per cent speak two or more languages other than English.