A group of officers who rushed into a burning building to save lives were honoured as Toronto Police Service Officers of the Year by the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
“I did not expect this at all, at all. I’m stunned, almost embarrassed because there’s great work out there almost every single day and they’re not here with us,” said Constable Kristal McCullough, one of the six officers who won the Officer of the Year Award along with Constables Daniel Macnab, David Ribarovic, Erik Corba, Marcelinus Borsboom and Onofrio Ferlisi at the 48th annual event.
A panel of judges comprised of community and media volunteers chose the officers of the year out of 12 stories representing each month of 2014, based on the virtues of bravery, humanitarianism, superior investigative work and outstanding police skills.
Corba and Borsboom arriving at the scene before firefighters, They crawled up to the second floor through thick dark smoke where they found an unconscious woman whom they brought out of the building. Another attempt to enter the building to rescue other people was forfeited when the officers had trouble breathing.
Macnab, McCullough, Ribarovic and Ferlisi later arrived on the scene and assisted firemen with the rescue. Macnab and McCullough climbed to the building roof to help evacuate a person and then drove an ambulance to the hospital on an emergency run.
In the meantime, Ribarovic and Ferlisi found another victim while searching the building’s exterior, secured ladders for fire personnel during the rescue, and assisted with rushing two victims to hospital.
Two residents succumbed to injuries sustained in the fire and 15 were rescued, including two children from the building that was completely destroyed.
I’m very humbled and grateful for all of this… It’s all part of the job and we are out there every single day doing this over and over again and it is definitely great to be recognized for what we do
“I’m very humbled and grateful for all of this… It’s all part of the job and we are out there every single day doing this over and over again and it is definitely great to be recognized for what we do,” said Constable Eric Corba.
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee lauded the officers present in the room, saying that, while there would be one winner, all officers symbolized policing at its best.
“This is no small feat, especially when we consider the impressive field in which they are competing. Each police officer of the month has a remarkable story. Each one demonstrates ethical conduct, professionalism, dedication and bravery of the highest degree. Each and every one of these officers is a hero and indeed a role model. As a group they symbolize policing at its best.”
Chief Mark Saunders called the officers heroes for their work.
“Tonight is the appropriate night to call you heroes, for the courage, bravery, selflessness that you have proven throughout this year and it is fantastic… Tonight you are the ones that went above and beyond the call of duty, you were selfless, you were brave and you did some amazing things. And we get an opportunity to share these moments with you. And you have all won,” said the Chief.
The Chief also recognized that, through the Business Excellence Awards, civilians were being recognized for the important role they play in the organization.
The civilian winners of the Business Excellence Awards were Accounting Services Manager Lermy Ramos and Finance & Business Management Director Sandra Califaretti, who won for their work in introducing an automated Paid Duty management system saving over $2 million in manual distribution and human resources costs.
“I feel amazing, but it’s a team effort just to partner with officers, we have learned a lot about paid duty and it’s amazing that we have changed the process, we have saved a lot of money and we have complied with a lot of regulations… So we have achieved a lot with overhauling the paid duty program,” said Ramos.
Califaretti added that it was Ramos and her team that did all the work and she was just the person who said the system needed to change. More importantly, Califaretti said that the overhaul of the program was one that benefitted officers and the public.
“It feels good for people to recognize civilians and civilians who have done something for the benefit of the Service and the benefit of the public… it’s fabulous.”