As a child growing up in 14 Division, Constable Peter De Quintal often recalls the fun times he had when officers from the Division went to his elementary school to do bike rodeos with students.
“Somehow, we seemed to have gotten away from it,” he said. “A few years ago, I asked my Staff Sergeant if it was something we had stopped doing or we had simply just forgotten about it. He said it was the latter.”
The response prompted De Quintal, with the assistance of his colleagues and auxiliary officers, to start a rodeo for young people in his Division three years ago.
The rodeo is geared at engaging students in several fun activities, including obstacle courses to help develop skills on two wheels as well as adhere to the rules of the road. They are also required to wear helmets.
The 12 Division School Resource Officer was presented with a Community Safety Award at the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) annual luncheon on May 25.
“It’s one thing to be recognized by the Toronto Police Service, but to be honoured by a community outside of your peers take on greater meaning,” De Quintal, better known as @StarWarsCop on Twitter and in real life, said. “Many students have bikes, but quite a few feel they don’t need a helmet. Through this education program, I think they are getting the message.”
De Quintal has been at 12 Division since he joined the Service a decade ago.
Michelle Jorge, a personal injury lawyer in the city, nominated De Quintal for the prestigious honour.
“I just think that he basically fits the epitome of what the award is meant to acknowledge,” she said. “I was part of the original safety awards committee and part of the drafting of the criteria for this award and he meets every single one of our criteria with the work that he does in the community and the work that he does to enhance safety for children. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with him and the bike helmet committee every year and we look forward to a continued partnership with him.”
As part of the OTLA Helmets on Kids campaign, the law firm of Jewell Radimisis Jorge has donated nearly 22,000 helmets to students across the province in the last 15 years.
“Our initiative is to promote safety and prevent injury within the community,” said Jorge, a partner at the firm. “Every time we help one child we are making a difference, hopefully they will go and promote the message to their families and friends in the community.”
By law, it’s mandatory for every cyclist under 18 years old to wear a helmet, while those who are under 16 years old need to have a parent or guardian make sure they are wearing them. Helmets have been proven to greatly reduce the risk of brain and head injuries, preventing concussions and potentially even death. Studies have shown that helmet use reduces head injury risk by over 80%.