A chance meeting between her mother and a senior officer five years ago opened the door for Sonia Verma’s introduction to the Toronto Police Service and gaining a mentor to help seek out her dream job.
She was among 44 recruits who graduated on February 4 at the Toronto Police College.
Superintendent Randy Carter, then an Inspector, was at the front desk at headquarters when Prem Verma brought in her application for a clerical job. Though she wasn’t hired, the quality time that Carter spent talking to the George Brown College instructor about the Service and the application process left her with a lasting impression.
The mother reconnected with Carter a few years later to let him know her daughter was interested in a policing career.
“I told her it was a great idea and I introduced her to a recruiting officer,” recounted Carter, who helped guide her in navigating the hiring process to become a Parking Enforcement Officer and later a Station Operator.
“After that, she told me she wanted to be a Constable. I suggested she go to the College and get some extra help.”
Carter was honoured to be asked to present the rookie officer with her badge on graduation day.
“This is a young lady with a lot of talent which can help our organization and the city,” he said. “She really has a cultural understanding of the city she lives in.”
For her part, Verma – who graduated from York University with a Law & Society degree – is proud to have Carter as a mentor.
“This is the only police service I wanted to work for and the Superintendent was instrumental in ensuring that I did everything that I needed to do to be part of this wonderful organization,” she said. “I have been with the Service for nearly two years and I have seen first-hand the high-end value and efficient services that the organization offers. This was my only option.”
In welcoming the new recruits, Acting Chief Mike Federico reminded them that there is no higher calling in public service than being a police officer.
“We owe you a debt of gratitude,” he said. “By your choice, you will make a profound difference in the community’s life. You will help make our community safe and liveable and that is a noble cause. It will not always be easy. You will be expected to work hard and at times make sacrifices. You are expected to live up to the high standards of a true public servant. That can mean taking on tasks that are new to you and spending extra time accomplishing your mission.”
Federico assured the rookies that, in the course of their duty, they will be challenged at times by rude and aggressive people and they will encounter violent criminals.
“You will deal with people who exploit the most vulnerable in our society and you will encounter those people who do not deserve the community’s respect,” he said. “But don’t let those individuals rob you of your professionalism and your humanity. Your job is to make the world a better and safer place. Do not let the worst of society deter you from your mission because Canadian society is a noble society and one which has attributes that we can celebrate that truly represent, in my opinion, the values that humanity strives for.
“There is great power in professionalism, courtesy, commitment and dedication to duty. In your policing career every day, you will make decisions that are important. They directly impact the safety, security and well-being of our citizens. Your decisions must be made wisely and lawfully, they must be made for the right reasons and they must always be guided by the rule of law for the public good. In making these decisions, please be aware of the potential that the perception that we discriminate on the basis of race has been undermining and destroying our relationship with the diverse people that we serve. Therefore, we must be constantly vigilant against the influence that bias could have on our decision-making.”
The new recruits represent the first class that benefited from extended three-week training that covers de-escalation and mental health. Previous classes did six weeks training after leaving the Ontario Police College.
The class of proud cadets included Cody Josephs – he’s assigned to 14 Division – who is delighted to be following in the footsteps of his father, Adam Josephs, who joined the Service nearly 25 years ago.
“He’s my role model and I have watched over the years how he took great pride in doing his work,” said Josephs, who graduated from Durham College’s police foundations program and was a court officer for six years. “It’s an honour to be serving in the same organization with him.”
Robert Rinkoff, who is going to 55 Division, became the third family member to join the Service.
“It’s four boys and the other one is with Canadian Border Services, so I think this is it,” said the rookie officer. “It goes without saying I wanted to follow the path of my two older brothers and I am so glad I am with them.”
Staff Sergeant Paul Rinkoff and Constable Lee Rinkoff are at headquarters and 55 Division respectively.
Of the new recruits, 21 are women, making it the highest-ever percentage in one class in the history of the Service.
The fact that over one-third of the class is made up of visible minorities wasn’t lost on Toronto Police Services Board member Dr. Dhun Noria.
“Your diversity is a mirror of our 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 and strengthen relationships and thus enhance our ever-important partnership with the public.”
Several individual awards were presented at the graduation ceremony.
Maria Abdoulleaeva, who has an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from York University and a doctorate in law from the University of Western Ontario, won the Honour Student and Most Proficient Student Awards with a 98 per cent mark.
Fellow cadets voted Winston Mitchell, who has a diploma in police foundations from Durham College, for the Physical Training Most Improved Award while Cesar Brito captured the Physical Training High Performance honour.
Paolo Villa, who served in the Canadian Armed Forces and was deployed to Afghanistan as part of a Royal Canadian Regiment task force, was the recipient of the Military Veterans Award presented for excellence in drill and deportment, the Diversity & Inclusion Award donated by Zul and Salima Kassamali was presented to former YMCA volunteer and adult programs educator Kristina Mehak and York University graduate Ashley Pickford was recognized with the Harry Mayzel Leadership Award.
Ryerson University criminal justice and criminology graduate Darrelle Johnson was the valedictorian.
The award is named after CityTV assignment editor Glen Cole who died in 1990.