Living next to a cop has its advantages.
Besides feeling safe and protected, you can also count on using that officer as a sounding board if you are considering policing as a career.
That’s exactly what Constable Kyle Wagner did when he found out that his neighbour was Staff Sergeant Graham Queen of the Mounted Unit.
“I was aware that Kyle was interested in police work,” said Queen, who presented the badge to the rookie officer at the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) graduation ceremony on September 10 at the police college. “We sat down and spoke and I recommended he consider working with Toronto Police as a career.”
Queen provided Wagner – who won the Harry Mayzel Leadership Award -- with a job referral.
“I think our Service has got itself a fine young man,” he pointed out. “Kyle is a very hard worker and he will do whatever is required to ensure he serves us with pride and distinction.”
A graduate of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology criminal justice program, Wagner is excited to be part of Canada’s largest municipal police service.
“This is a unique career and very diverse in terms of all you can do,” said Wagner, who spent eight years in Belize where his parents now reside. “I applied to other police services before I met Mr. Queen but, once we became neighbours and got together, I fell in love with Toronto Police. He did a fantastic job of selling the organization. This graduation day is the biggest day of my life and I am so thrilled.”
Retired cop Ojo Tewogbade is still making a contribution to the Service even though he retired 13 months ago, after 35 years on the job in 13 Division.
Three years ago, when he pulled up at Frank Malfara Service Centre on Rogers Road to make a purchase, an eager young man approached him with a request to be a police officer.
“It was the owner’s son and he came running to me, asking what he needed to do to be a cop,” recounted Tewogbade. “When I told him I had to get to know him first, his response was, “My dad said you recommended some people to be police officers’. I told him that was true, but I knew them.”
Quinton Malfara, who has a criminal justice degree from the University of Guelph, took up Tewogbade’s offer to join his 13 Division Saturday youth outreach program.
“I stayed in the background and observed how he interacted with the challenged youth, the majority of them black,” he said. “Quinton was so good with them that I allowed him to take them to the Tim Hortons camp. He was excellent and I had no problem writing a recommendation for him.”
Since Tewogbade started the Saturday morning program 15 years ago, 20 graduates for whom he penned recommendation letters are members of the TPS and one each with York Regional Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police.
Assigned to 53 Division, Malfara said Tewogbade was his inspiration to be a cop.
“It was something I definitely wanted to do, but it was not until I reached him that I knew I had a good chance,” Malfara, who attended Tewogbade’s retirement party last September, said. “Constable Ojo gave me his card the day I met him at my father’s shop and told me to call him the next day which I did.”
Staff Sergeant Matt Moyer of 53 Division had every reason to be in a celebratory mood on graduation day.
Not only did his son, James, graduate, but he sang the national anthem, accompanied by his guitar and will start his frontline duties at 14 Division where his dad began his policing career in January 1990.
“I am so proud he’s following in my footsteps and performing,” said the older Moyer who, along with James and his other son, are members of the Fabulous Faded Genes band.
It was also difficult for Niagara Regional Police Service Chief Jeff McGuire to contain his excitement as all three of his daughters are now Service members.
A TPS member for 35 years before joining Niagara three years ago, McGuire presented his youngest child – Jen McGuire – with her badge.
“I am proud of my time with Toronto Police and I have a real sense of pride in seeing my kids working here,” he said. “It’s a great organization with great people. Jen has a great sense of humour and she looking forward to the opportunity to serve and protect like me and her sisters.”
McGuire said he offered his daughter the same advice he gives to Niagara Police new recruits.
“Never forget the oath you have taken, never ever lose your integrity and take care of yourself and your fellow officers,” he said.
A total of 34 newcomers are in the latest graduating class.
As they make the transition from recruits to rookies, Chief Mark Saunders told the new class they belong to a generation of the best trained officers in the profession.
“You are amongst the most educated, you come from amazing diverse backgrounds, you possess cultural competencies, language skills and a good understanding of the law and knowledge of how to apply the law,” he said. “These will be the keys to your success in making our communities safe.
“You have entered into a world where transparency is demanded, not requested, not optional. You have entered a new era of policing. You will learn to work in cars with cameras, booking halls with cameras and officers with cameras. Remain steadfast to your training because all eyes are watching. These qualities will help you earn the trust and confidence of the people you are now sworn to serve. You will need all of these skills and more.”
Saunders, who joined the Service 32 years ago, reminded the rookies that every action they take, positive or negative, affects the entire Service.
“Public trust has to be earned,” he added. “It can only be earned by what we do, not by what we say we will do. It is everyone’s responsibility to earn, maintain and build upon that very trust. We can only do so by carrying out our duties with integrity, honesty and fairness. We can only maintain that trust if we truly respect the people we have sworn to protect.
“I do not suggest this will always be easy. You will be challenged. You will encounter violent criminals and you will deal with people who exploit others. When you come across those encounters, I am counting on you to rise above them. Hold yourself to a higher level of conduct. It won’t be easy, but our training has taught you how to do just that. Do not let such people rob you of your professionalism or of your humanity. Your job is to make the world a better place and safer place. Do not let the worst of society deter you from your mission.”
In welcoming the recruits, Superintendent Peter Lennox, the unit commander at the Toronto Police College, reminded them to police with honesty, integrity and respect and always strive for excellence.
“How do we ensure that we do represent service at the highest level, using the best practices and solving community problems as effectively as humanly possible?” he asked. “We do that by learning, continuous, lifelong learning. If we’re going to think of ourselves as professionals and deliver a professional grade of service, we have to remain excellent at what we do all the time. We have to be current in the law, we need to be up to date on our authorities and to know the people in our community as well as the problems they face and the problem-solving resources they can offer.
“We then have to use that ongoing learning to be thoughtful about how we do our job as police officers and how we solve problems with the community. We have to remember that training is not done when we walk out of here. It’s never done. We have to spend our careers – three or four decades --- keeping up to date with what is going on around us and with what the community expects of us.”
Lennox urged the new officers to learn from experienced officers, crown attorneys, defense counsel and other community professionals who are endowed with valuable knowledge, skills and expertise. He also told them to follow media conversations, read about policing, leadership, sociology and community and customer service and keep up to date on legislation and case law.
“The Service will do its part too,” he added. “It will support you financially as you learn at colleges and universities, as long as you take programs that will help you become and remain excellent. That’s how seriously we take continuous and career-long learning.”
Lennox challenged the newcomers to live their careers so they can retire with their heads held high, knowing that they were excellent.
“You can do it by providing the kind of policing the community has a right to expect every day that you work,” he said. “We are so proud of you. You have done well.”
Police Services Board member Dr. Dhun Noria told the new officers they should feel honoured and privileged to be joining an impressive organization comprising professional and dedicated members.
She also noted the wide range of diversity they bring to the Service.
The new class comprises 38.2 per cent visible minorities and 26.5 per cent women.
A total of 88.2 per cent successfully completed post-secondary education and 20.6 per cent have previous military or policing experience.
They speak several languages, including Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, French, German, Greek, Patois and Polish. Of the 18 new recruits who speak a second language, 11.8 per cent speak two or more languages other than English.
“Your diversity is a mirror of the city,” she said. “And in it lies our strength. The quality of our Service is strengthened when the diversity of our great city is reflected in those who police it. Through you, we can reach out to our different communities and neighbourhoods, speak to community members in their home languages, build relationships and enhance our partnership with the public.
Noria encouraged the officers to hold their heads high as they perform their valued responsibilities and take satisfaction in knowing that their role is critical to keeping Toronto safe and allowing every one of its citizens to enjoy an enviable quality of life.
Katsiaryna Malitskaya was the class valedictorian, while Shawn Chow was the recipient of the Honour Student and Physical Training High Performance Awards.
Ryan D’Souza clinched the Physical Training Most Improved Award, Victor Leung captured the Military Veterans Award and University of Ottawa graduate Christine Hardie won the Gulshan Kassamali Diversity & Inclusion Award.
The other graduates are Niquita Amirkhanian, Michael Avelar, Amy Beckles, Gurmakh Benning, Alex Brooker, Janice Cheng, Adam Day, Mick-Narada Dickenson, Jonathan Fullard, Jenna Gillespie, Andy Huynh, Elijah Johns, Devon Kime, Johnny Krilis, Drew McLean, Matthew McGill, Sabina Mopsik, James Munro, Yulia Pakka, Michael Pawlak, Matthew Rossi, Jason Sabino, Jose Salcedo Tigse, Martin Waz and Aaron Yamada.