Paul Millar was among 68 Auxiliary officers to proudly don their uniform at their graduation ceremony on November 25 at the Toronto Police College.
The certified paramedic hopes the basic knowledge and skills acquired as a police volunteer will help him attain his dream job of being a full-time police officer.
“I like working and interacting with people, and I feel that offers the perfect platform to do that,” said Millar, a supervisor with Voyageur Transportation which, among other things, provides non-emergency patient transfers and on-site first aid for special events, along with comprehensive training services in the areas of transportation and health and safety.”
Many of the graduates plan to use their Auxiliary enrolment as a steppingstone to become full-time TPS members.
Nearly 400 Auxiliaries volunteer 83,000 hours annually, assisting in community mobilization initiatives, crime prevention programs, special events, parades, searches for missing persons and emergency call-outs.
Zeddie Valero spent six years with the Philippine National Police before migrating to Canada four years ago.
“I enjoyed my time with the Service back in the land of my birth and it’s a field I want to get back into,” said Valero, who works in a warehouse. “Policing allows you to give back and make a difference in communities.”
Rahila Iqbal, who migrated from England nearly eight years ago, is passionate about volunteering.
“Toronto Police is amazing and I have always wanted to be an officer with this Service,” she said. “What better way to start my journey than being an Auxiliary, where I can do what I love best and that is giving back freely.”
Iqbal has an honours degree in community studies and a diploma in early childhood education.
Seeing a police officer on patrol would always get Philip Pablico’s undivided attention.
“That was the way it was when I was growing up,” he said excitedly. “I was always in awe when I saw an officer on duty and I vowed that I wanted to be like one of them.”
An armed guard with a transportation company, Pablico expects to be deployed to 22 Division after spending the next year at the Divisional Policing Support Unit.
Chief Administrative Officer Tony Veneziano represented Chief Mark Saunders at the graduation.
He reminded the graduates that they are joining an organization that relies on volunteers.
“Volunteers have always been an integral part of policing, dating back to 1834 when the Toronto Police Service consisted of one paid police officer and 14 volunteers,” said Veneziano. “…As Auxiliary members, you will be ambassadors of one of the finest police services in Canada, North America and the world. In doing so, you must embrace the Toronto Police Service’s core values of honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, reliability, teamwork, a positive attitude and freedom from bias and do that in every aspect of your duties, in all that you do, all of the time.
“The experience that you are about to embark upon will provide an excellent opportunity for you to interact with our police officers and the citizens of Toronto…I am confident that all of you will not only find it a rewarding and satisfying experience, but one that will truly allow you to give back to the community in a way that will benefit everyone.”
In his first official role as a new Police Services Board member, Ken Jeffers welcomed the recruits to the Service.
“You bring to the Service a rich array of ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity,” he said. “An astounding three-quarters of you speak a language other than English…We are lucky to have each one of you for your talents, your skills and your insights. You truly bring the community into the Service. You reflect diversity and success.”
Jeffers told the graduates that Auxiliary officers play a vital role in ensuring that Toronto remains a safe city.
“In making the decision to become Auxiliary officers, you are making a personal contribution to the safety and well-being of your community,” he added. “At the same time, you are embarking on a tremendous opportunity for career advancement should you choose to pursue policing as a career.”
Superintendent Peter Yuen is the unit commander of the Divisional Policing Support Unit that oversees the Auxiliary program.
Auxiliaries contributed almost 8,200 volunteer hours last year.
“It is this commitment and willingness to offer their valuable time that sets our Auxiliary members apart from the rest,” Yuen pointed out.
The senior officer told the graduates he’s committed to their continuous training at the TPS College that will prepare them to tackle any duty they are assigned with confidence and purpose.
“During the course of your duties, you will be given unique views and understanding of the responsibility and the role of a Toronto Police Auxiliary,” he added. “They will also provide you with an insight to the challenging dynamics of this truly wonderful opportunity.”
Acting Superintendent Steven Molyneaux, who is assigned to the police college, said the Auxiliary program exemplifies community-based policing, while Auxiliary Superintendent Frank Fernandes noted that the program has a long history of serving the citizens in the city.
“This program has been in existence for about six decades and is very well respected by all,” said Fernandes, an Auxiliary member since 1971. “You have chosen one of the best organizations to give your community volunteer service.”
In each graduating class, the student who demonstrates outstanding performance in the various training programs is presented with the Julian Fantino Award for their proficiency. Former Chief Fantino began his career as an Auxiliary member.
This year’s winners were Chris Gautreau, Hao Hung, Nicole McLellan-Cliteur and Matthew Goodmurphy, who wasn’t able to attend the ceremony.
Gautreau is a sales professional in the flooring industry and a volunteer with Victim Services Durham and the Abilities Centre in Whitby and Huynh is an architectural technologist and adult literacy tutor at the Toronto Public Library.
A Carleton University public policy graduate, McLellan-Cliteur is an avid traveller.
This year’s class valedictorians were Michael Hatzes and Frederic Solenthaler.
Hatzes graduated from York University with an honours degree in criminology and is an active community volunteer while Solenthaler – who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Ryerson University – is a flight crew trainer and attendant with Air Canada Jazz. He speaks French and German fluently and is a First Aid instructor.
The graduating class included part-time court officer Cam Vinh Mac, Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Service probation & parole officer Veena Sharma, former Toronto Police Rover Crew member Nathan Duke, who is pursuing law studies at York University and retired Hong Kong Police officer Johnny Yu.
The Auxiliary program was established 59 years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.
In the last five decades, members have provided countless hours of service during the 2010 G20 Summit, papal visits in 1984 and 2002 during World Youth Day celebrations, at the 2003 Rolling Stones concert and at the sites of the 1962 propane plant explosion in Maple, the 1969 natural gas explosion in Malton and the 1979 trail derailment in Mississauga.
During last summer’s Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, Auxiliary officers – working 24-hour shifts – undertook 836 assignments and contributed approximately 8,370 volunteer hours.