Creating Safe Space in Shoreham-Driftwood

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 9:22 a.m. August 23, 2016

Constable Nelson Santizo is very familiar with the Shoreham-Driftwood community.

A man and woman in TPS uniform walking with a girl
Constables Nelson Santizo and Dalida Matias talk to one of the many kids who play in the courtyards of the community

He spent 15 years there and is comfortable going back and interacting with residents as part of his job as a Neighbourhood Officer.

“I had a lot of good times and I still have great memories,” said Santizo. “As a kid, I rode my bike and climbed trees with the other kids. I feel almost like I am back home. Members of the community recognize me, so right away there is a connection and relationship.”

31 Division Neighbourhood Officers in the Shoreham-Driftwood Community

Santizo’s partner, Constable Dalida Matias, said she didn’t know what to expect when they were assigned to the neighbourhood nearly 18 months ago.

“We, however, went in there with a positive attitude to talk to people and try to gain their trust and respect,” she said. “The approach worked in what is a warm and loving community.”

Constables Brian Sutherland and Sean O’Neill also patrol the neighbourhood and work to create community contacts to prevent crime and build trust in police.

Superintendent Tony Riviere, 31 Division unit commander, is proud of the positive strides his officers are making in the neighbourhood.

“One of the things we hoped the neighbourhood officers would accomplish was to stem the apparent deterioration of public trust in there police, particularly in our more challenged neighbourhoods,” he said. “We recognized that public trust is at the forefront of our success. Our embedded officers have done much in improving our relationship and in bringing value to our residents daily. We have enthusiastic officers who are committed to making a difference and in promoting a safe and vibrant community.”

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