Anyone can be an advocate for a victim of crime. However, it’s those who are subjected to a heinous criminal act committed on them or a family member who often become the most passionate and effective proponents for positive change.
Eight years ago, Patricia Hung’s daughter – Stefanie Rengel, 14 at the time – was stabbed to death in a brutal crime that shocked the city.
Since that tragedy, she has embarked on a mission to uplift others who grieve by reconnecting them with joy and inspiring them to reach their full potential emotionally, spiritually and financially.
Hung, instrumental in the Toronto Police Service creating a central information site aimed at providing links to resources for victims and witnesses of crime, retired on February 16.
“Being on the road was fun and exciting, but working to support victims of crime has been my most rewarding time on the job,” said Hung, a Service member for 25 years. “Having a real good idea of how victims feel allowed me to be able to help support them and makes changes. That has been very fulfilling.”
Several of Hung’s colleagues joined her at farewell reception at a Scarborough restaurant. They included Detective Sergeant Steve Ryan, who met her for the first time during the murder trial.
“She held herself with such dignity and respect during those dark moments,” said Ryan, who investigated the murder. “She is a very brave woman and I am so proud to be associated with her.”
Bonnie Levine, executive director of Victim Services Toronto, paid glowing tribute to Hung.
“Patricia is one of the kindest, most generous and good-hearted persons I have had the pleasure to know,” said Levine. “Her policing career, her writing, her teachings and public-speaking engagements centre on her dedication to making the world a kinder, gentler and safer place for everyone.
“She’s a shining example of humanity. Losing a child to horrific violence is a parent’s worst imaginable nightmare. Speaking publicly about the most trying time in one’s life is extremely difficult, as it exposes very personal vulnerabilities. Patricia recognizes that, by sharing the insights she has gained from living through atrocity, she could lessen the suffering of others. She inspires those around her to do better and be better and I am a better person for knowing her.”
Staff Sergeant Jordan Latter, of Community Safety Command, said Hung made a difference in the lives of victims she worked with.
“She was the first person who any of our units with a major incident on their hands called,” he said. “Having been on both sides of the fence made her the perfect person to offer that much needed support. It’s going to be hard to fill her shoes.”
Hung spent the last three years at the Divisional Policing Support Unit after being transferred from 42 Division.
“I will miss her warm smile that greeted you as you walked through the door,” said Constable Tina Trepanier, the Service’s French Liaison Officer. “Besides that smile that always made you feel special, she cared deeply about people and that affection was sincere and genuine.”
Staff Sergeant James Hung of Police Dog Services and Patricia met on the job 15 years ago and tied the nuptial knot in 2003.
“Patricia is very smart, considerate and always positive,” he said. “The kids just can’t wait to have her home.”
Chief Mark Saunders is proud of her work.
“I have known her for a multitude of years and the strength that is always noticeable about her is her compassion and humility,” he said. “She’s so powerfully devoted to teaching compassion and the importance of what our role is from a Service capacity and not just the enforcement piece. For that, she was second to none. Her exit will leave a big dent in that element of policing which is so much more relevant in our day-to-day operations than ever before. It’s bittersweet to her because she is such a gifted person in that particular field.”
Crown Law Office counsel Robin Flumerfelt said the Service is losing a genuine asset with Hung’s retirement.
“I’ve known a lot of tough cops over the past 20 years, but not one tougher than Patricia Hung,” he said. Flumerfelt prosecuted the trial into the murder of her daughter that resulted in the conviction of the teenage boy who wielded the knife and the teenage girl who ordered him to do it. “Through the trials of her daughter’s murderers, she maintained her dignity and poise against a level of pain and pressure that would crush most people I know, including me... I can’t wait to see whose lives she will make better.”
Hung has relished her time with the Service and is looking for to the next phase of her life.
“I am moving on to a new chapter, leaving behind an amazing career and many wonderful people that I met along the way with the great organization that is Toronto Police,” she said. “I am going to spend some quality time with my husband and our five kids and continue to advocate for victims. That will never stop.”
A certified grief coach, author and motivational speaker, Hung owns Coaching Joy, a grief-coaching organization that specialises in coaching to help improve poor employee performance that’s attributed to grief and suffering.