Ask any community stakeholder in the Weston Rd. and Black Creek community who their favourite cop is, and the answer will be unanimous.
As the 12 Division crime prevention and community liaison officer for the last 27 years, Constable Jim Lambe has effectively bridged the gap between the police and the community which trusts and respects him.
He has spent his entire 44-year law enforcement career at 12 Division.
“It’s sort of how funny how I have evolved in this role,” said Lambe, the recipient of aIntercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) Public Heroes Award presented on April 14 at the Mississauga Convention Centre.
“I was supposed to do this job for just six months, as the officer who preceded me was on a lateral. That was in 1989, and I am still here. The other thing is, I thought that crime prevention and community liaising was not real police work. I was so wrong as it’s a critical aspect that the Service provides.”
“The exposure I have gained to so many diverse communities is priceless. I grew up in a small town, up north where we ate potatoes and other vegetables. Over the last two decades, I have been exposed to so many various cultures and different types of food.”
Superintendent Scott Weidmark, 12 Division unit commander, and York West Active Living Centre executive director Suzanne Teixeira, nominated Lambe for the honour.
“Crime prevention and community relations are certainly not the sexy parts of policing, but they are essential to policing and roles of a police officer that Jim takes to heart,” said Weidmark.
“He is an expert in the traditional tools of crime prevention, such as target-hardening and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). But he goes beyond tradition, embracing whatever means can be used to encourage people to do the right thing.”
“…Jim is no nine-to-fiver. His shift is determined by what the community requires of him. He comes in ahead of his start time and often leaves past his finish time, not bothering to claim overtime because, in truth, he enjoys his work to the point that it seems more like play…His range is limitless when it comes to being involved in his community because, after over 40 years, this community is truly his and they truly trust him.”
Constable Lambe’s file contains 19 awards from past unit commanders and 71 letters of positive recognition from the community.
“I have never seen that many letters in any file,” added Weidmark.
“That is why Jim Lambe is genuinely our hero.”
Teixeira has collaborated with Lambe on community projects for the past 12 years.
“Jim has always been an integral part of our seniors’ centre,” she said.
“Our members’ interests and the community are at the forefront of his daily routine. We have been the recipients of many of Jim’s random acts of kindness, including community safety talks to delivering calendars and puzzles. On a regular basis, he will pop into the centre to check on how things are going and to find out if there are any needs that have arisen for which he can lend his services.
“When issues arise in the community, he is always there to lend support in whatever capacity he is able to. Many times, we will find him volunteering his time at the centre, building relationships and truly getting to know our seniors. At our community gatherings, not only our seniors but community partners and members look for Jim so they can just say ‘hi’. We are so glad to be the recipients of the generosity of this true community hero. Our community is a better place because of Jim.”
12 Division Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) member Barbara Spyropoulos said Lambe has been the organization’s backbone since it was formed 20 years ago.
“Under his guidance, our CPLC has become one of the most active in the city, instituting novel programs designed to maximize community involvement and hence promoting the development of a safe community,” she pointed out.
“…You will rarely see Jim in the forefront as he prefers to work behind the scenes doing all the unglamorous work…Now is the time to give this unsung hero the recognition he deserves.”
York South-Weston Member of Provincial Parliament Laura Albanese and councillor Frances Nunziata supported Lambe’s nomination.
Meeting him for the first time’ when she was elected to represent the riding a decade ago, Albanese said he embodies the true spirit of a hero.
“Constable Lambe’s unwavering passion for building a safer community through his work as an officer, volunteer and community liaison. swiftly became apparent to me and I admire his drive and determination,” she said.
“He is a tireless community leader with a continuous presence in the community and a mentor to people of all ages, especially the young people and newcomers. He is also a strong advocate for the safety and well-being of all.”
Nunziata has known and worked with Lambe for the last 25 years.
“His lifelong commitment to the Toronto Police Service, coupled with his involvement in the local community, demonstrates the dedication he holds for his profession and the community,” said Nunziata, who was a Toronto Police Services Board member for four years.
“Many of our community members know him by first name and are pleased to see him at the many community meetings and events he generously makes time to attend.
“…A number of years ago, through his participation in the annual Weston Safety Audit, he was able to assist me in piloting a project in the Weston community wherein property owners were encouraged to display their addresses at the rear of their properties so that, if assistance was required by someone in a laneway. they could easily identify their location to communicate to emergency services. ..He is an outstanding officer whose admirable work has had tremendous value in the community.”
Jean-Marie Boutot, the Learning Enrichment Foundation community engagement facilitator, said Lambe is a shining example of a dedicated and altruistic member of 12 Division.
“Over the years, I have seen him consistently and unwaveringly contribute to the strengthening of our Mount Dennis community by building a strong and committed foundation of relationships with neighbours, community stakeholders and leaders alike,” Boutot noted.
“Jim not only joins in with various community events and activities, but he actively assists the community in many relevant roles, going over and beyond his role as a police officer.”
Deputy Chief Mike Federico said Lambe is a tireless public servant who possesses an abiding sense of humour and a positive attitude.
“He is always looking for ways to build positive lasting relationships with the Service and the city’s diverse communities,” said Federico.
“I have witnessed Jim going beyond what’s expected of him to help organize great community events and celebrations that bring the Service and the community closer together while, at the same time, helping individuals who need personal support navigate the police service and our other institutional partners. He does that because he is personally committed to improving his community, while promoting the Service as an organization worthy of community confidence and support.”
Staff Superintendent Tom Russell, who spent a year at 12 Division as the unit commander, quickly came to understand how valuable Lambe was when it came to creating and maintaining trust on behalf of all officers with the local community.
“What is most remarkable is that Jim’s dedication, desire and passion to connect with the community and improve the quality of life and safety for all are as strong today as it was 27 years ago when he took over this assignment,” added Russell.
“He truly cares and has made a tremendous positive connection with many people and organizations in the community on behalf of the Toronto Police Service.”
Starting as a cadet, working out of the summons bureau, Lambe has been at 12 Division since graduating from the Police College in 1974.
“I have enjoyed my time there and this award is truly humbling,” said Lambe, who helps to send young people to Tim Hortons camps and has had a significant impact on youths and their families through the 12 Division Restorative Justice program. “I had no idea what I was doing in the community has had so much impact. I think the real heroes are the people in the community…I always wanted to be a cop because I felt they are there to help people.”
Established six years ago, the Public Heroes Awards recognize cops, firefighters and paramedics for their outstanding work. IDI is a non-profit group that seeks to promote social cohesion through interfaith and intercultural cooperation, tolerance and dialogue, by sharing differences and similarities through various forums.