Constable Jaime Knox knows the neighbourhoods she polices well, helping out the most vulnerable as she goes about her job.
When the 42 Division officer stumbled upon some Afghani youths in their traditional dress playing street hockey with shabby sticks, she joined them in the game and promised that she would do something to provide them with better equipment.
Back at the station, Knox made a few phone calls and was able to get Canadian Tire – through their Jump Start program – to provide the young people with sticks, nets and pucks.
As the School Resource Officer at Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute a few years ago, Knox met a female student whose parents had abandoned her and left the country.
The officer bought a phone for the girl to communicate with other family members and found a place for her to stay.
Last summer, Knox – as a Neighbourhood Officer – worked with an elderly Bay Mills resident, who has suffered through mental illness and a brain injury get help when she needed it most.
“I met her about 18 months ago and we would chat whenever I saw her sitting in front of her building,” Knox recalled.
Last summer, Toronto Police received a call that the woman was camped out on a high school field across the street from where she lived.
“I sat with her in the field and we chatted for about two hours,” Knox said. “I was trying to see if I could get her to return home, but she refused and I left her alone. I checked on her the next morning and made sure she got some breakfast.”
Later that day, the woman went into a crisis and started to bang on doors in the neighborhood. When police arrived, she asked them to contact Knox.
“I spoke to the sergeant and told him I would be there first thing the next morning,” said Knox. “When I got there, she was completely in crisis and we had to subdue her and take her to hospital where she stayed for about three weeks.”
I have worked with a ton of police officers over the years and she’s probably one of, if not, the best officers I have ever met in my life
A few months after her release, the woman approached Knox who was on patrol in the neighbourhood and presented her with a gift bag containing a guardian angel.
“She told me I had treated her with so much respect and dignity and she was so grateful that I spent so much time with her,” Knox recounted. “She said I was her guardian angel sent from God when she needed someone the most and, by virtue of what I did for her, she has a lot of love and respect for the police.”
At the Division’s annual Family Fun Day on June 13 at Burrows Hall Community Centre and Park, Knox was presented with the 42 Division Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) Officer of the Year Award for her significant impact in the neighbourhood.
“This is a big honour for me,” she said. “It’s good to be recognized by your peers, but it’s another thing altogether to be honoured by the community. It tells me they are paying close attention to what I am doing. It is very reassuring to know my investment in the community is making a difference.”
A Service member since 2001, Knox has spent the last decade at 42 Division after being assigned to 51 and 52 divisions.
“I enjoy being around people and the opportunity to be put in a position where I could put my passion for working with and helping people to work,” she added. “I am also grateful that I was given space, time and the tools to effectively do that.”
Superintendent Tom Fitzgerald, the 42 Division unit commander, said words cannot express her superiors and colleagues feelings about her.
“She’s humble and incredibly passionate about the work she’s doing,” he said. “Because of Jaime’s presence in Bay Mills, Glendower and Chester Le, we are finding it much easier to police in those communities where she has left her imprint. We are so happy to showcase her as an example of what modern policing looks like.”
Inspector David Vickers said Knox is a leader in the Division, which has over 200 uniform and civilian staff.
“She’s a tremendous communicator and extremely dedicated officer,” he added.
Staff Sergeant David Rydzik could not have asked for a better send-off from the Division he has been assigned to for the last seven years.
Knox’s supervisor since 2010, he joined 51 division as an Inspector on June 15.
“I have worked with a ton of police officers over the years and she’s probably one of, if not, the best officers I have ever met in my life,” said Rydzik. “She has a heart of gold and she genuinely cares.”
While Knox stands out for her sterling work in the community, Rydzik said she’s an outstanding cop.
“Jamie knows the territory and the players in the Chester Le, Bay Mills and Glendower neighbourhoods, so whenever a crime is committed there, she’s the first person that our Major Crime Unit and Hold Up Squad contact. She’s a great copper.”
Knox’s father and grandfather – Terry and Jim Clarke respectively who are retired Toronto Police officers – and her mother Sue, who is a Communications Manager with Durham Regional Police Service, attended the event.
Three years ago, Knox was the recipient of the prestigious SRO Award of Excellence at the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) annual meeting in London. The award recognizes a police officer who has contributed to the overall well-being of students and the community in an exemplary manner.
Knox implemented two highly successful programs in the east end Scarborough school. “Sisterhood” addresses female-on-female bullying in a proactive manner and “Guide to Pride” helps disadvantaged young people become leaders and positive role models in their school and the community.
There were also $500 bursaries, administered by the Division’s CPLC and Chinese Community Liaison Committee, awarded at the fun day.
The recipients were Bryan Yau, Angela Leung and Yuki Situ.
Situ, 15, and 17-year-old Leung attend Agincourt Collegiate Institute while 18-year-old Yau graduated from Francis Libermann Catholic High School and will enter York University’s Schulich School of Business in September.
“This scholarship could not have come at a better time,” said Yau, who aspires to work with charities. “I am now entering university, my sister is in university and my brother is in law school.”