The Youth In Policing Initiative (YIPI) is the perfect summer fit for high school graduate Matthew Dulatre.
A graduate of Francis Libermann Catholic Public School, Dulatre is enrolled in the Centennial College Police Foundations program.
“I didn’t know anything about the program until last January when my uncle mentioned to it me,” said Dulatre, of his uncle John Hazineh, a Toronto Police Auxiliary officer. “I was so happy to be selected because Toronto is the police service I would like to work for in the future and I am now being given the opportunity to see how the organization operates and what would be expected from me.”
He said policing gives him an opportunity to give back to his community.
“Helping people is something I relish and policing seems to be one of the best ways to do that,” said the 18-year-old, who is working with Bail & Parole over the summer. “I am going to make the most of my summer employment.”
Dulatre is among 155 students, from 39 designated priority neighbourhoods across the city, enrolled in the annual YIPI summer program launched at police headquarters on June 30.
Established with the assistance of former provincial government minister Mary Anne Chambers, the YIPI program is a component of the province’s Youth Opportunities Strategy conceived to help young people facing barriers achieve success.
In 2008, the program was permanently incorporated into the Ontario government’s list of youth programs and, a year later, the Ministry of Children & Youth Services expanded its funding to the program to accommodate a 50 per cent increase in hires.
Chief Mark Saunders reminded this year’s intake that they represent the city’s brightest young men and women.
“You are a statement of what our future will look like,” he told the participants. “…Over the next six weeks, you will be working side by side with some of the best men and women in law enforcement in Canada. You will learn and you will be guided by them. We will also learn just as much as you do.”
Acting Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle also welcomed the impressive group of young people to the organization.
“We believe this program has countless benefits for our young people, our police service and our city,” he said. “This program is one part of a comprehensive Board and Service strategy for enhancing safety in our own communities. It reflects the Board’s recognition of using comprehensive and meaningful measures alongside traditional law enforcement in dealing with the issues of safety in our community.”
The recruits represent the 10th batch of high school and university students between 15 and 18 to be exposed to the program that caters to young people facing significant challenges, including finding summer employment.
Of the record 1,376 applicants, a total of 525 were interviewed.
“I am so happy I made the final cut,” said University of Guelph student Amina Ahmed, the third member of her family to be part of the program. “It will be help to upgrade my social skills and teach me more about what it takes to work in an office environment.”
Chinelle McDonald, who graduated from the program two years ago, was the guest speaker.
“What I enjoyed the most was that, even though we were summer students, our suggestions were welcomed and our artistic skills were utilized,” said the Lester B. Pearson Collegiate Institute graduate, who is enrolled in Ryerson University’s social work program. “The officers also had brainstorming sessions with us and shared some of their inspirational stories.”
She encouraged the participants to make the most of the summer opportunity.
“You may find that you are not performing well in your new role,” she said. “Do not be hard on yourselves because the best thing you can take from this experience is acknowledging areas for improvement and working towards them. If you are not sure about something, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues and supervisors as they are there to assist and support you every step of the way.”
Earning $11.00 an hour, the students will be exposed to the Service’s 17 Divisions and 48 support units.
Some of the students will also be assigned to the Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services, the Toronto Intermittent Centre & South Detention Centre, the Jamaican Canadian Association and the Ontario Black History Society.