Cricket Bonds Police Family

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 11:41 a.m. November 22, 2016
Updated: 2:27 p.m. November 22, 2016

The world limited-over police cricket championship trophy now has a permanent spot in Chief Mark Saunders’ office at headquarters.

A group of people, some holding a trophy
Chief Mark Saunders and Constable Amir Butt hold the championship trophy with Rita Cummins alongside fellow cricketers and supporters

The Toronto Police & Community Cricket (TPCC) team presented the award to the Chief at a simple ceremony at 42 Division on November 21.

Last month, the local officers captured the title, dedicated to the memory of New York Police Department Officer Dillon Stewart, who was killed in the line of duty in November 2005.

Survived by his wife and two daughters, Stewart was pursuing a driver in Brooklyn when he was fatally shot through the heart by the driver, who fired five bullets into the officer's patrol car. In spite of his wound, the officer kept driving for blocks in pursuit of the gunman.

The 35-year-old officer was taken in his own bullet-riddled unmarked car to hospital by his fellow officers, but died hours later, becoming the first officer to die in the line of duty that year.

A fundraising banquet raised almost $1,500 for the deceased officer’s two daughters.

“That was one of the highlights of the trip for me,” said Constable Mustafa Popalzai, of 32 Division. “It was great to see officers from around the globe come together, for one night, under one roof, to honour a fallen officer who sacrificed his life to protect others. It was really a humbling experience and it showed how much love we have for one another.

“Winning and losing is one thing, but being a police officer means that we are part of a very tight family and we have to care for each other and be there for one another. This was one of these events where we really came together and that is something that will be forever etched in my mind.”

Eurieta Cummins, who lost husband Percy Cummins in the line of duty, also attended the presentation ceremony.

He was fatally shot on September 23, 1981, with his own gun after he and his partner were disarmed when they answered a routine disturbance call in a west Toronto rooming home.

The high esteem in which Cummins was held by his colleagues was reflected in the Service dedicating its Scarborough cricket ground in his memory in June 1998.

For the past 18 years, his memory has been kept alive through an annual cricket match featuring the Toronto Police Community Cricket Club and the Barbados ex-Police Association.

“It’s an honour to be part of this celebration,” she said. “After my husband’s death, I remember my daughter (Kim), who was eight years old at the time, coming up to me and saying, ‘So mommy, this means we will never see daddy again’. She would go to bed, get up in the morning and ask me the same question. That went on for a while.”

Saunders joined the Service a few months after Cummins was killed and was assigned to 11 Division, where Cummins worked out of at the time of his passing.

“I had the honour of meeting many fine men and women who worked with Percy and I heard some really amazing stories of what a great individual he was,” said Saunders. “It’s near and dear to me whenever his name comes up and I think about him whenever the subject of cricket is raised. He made the ultimate sacrifice, trying to help others, and his death was a sober reminder of what can happen in this profession that we work in.”

In thanking the TPCC for bringing the world police championship trophy to Toronto, Saunders reminded them they should be proud of their accomplishments.


Cricket brings countries and people, together. In this instance, it brought law enforcement together

“Cricket brings countries and people, together. In this instance, it brought law enforcement together,” he remarked. “I must thank you  for forging bonds and representing the Servicer so well. You guys worked hard for this trophy and it’s OK for you to enjoy the bragging rights.”

Presentations were made to former TPCC president Cameron Lyte and current treasurer Rajendra Singh, who is assigned to 12 Division. They were unable to attend last month’s banquet.

Detective Mansoor Ahmad was the Master of Ceremony while Superintendents Sam Fernandes, Scott Baptist and Scott Weidmark attended the event.

“We really appreciate your presence here,” said Popalzai, who scored an unbeaten 55 and was the Most Valuable Player in the TPCC’s convincing six-wicket win over the Ex-Barbados Police team in this year’s Percy Cummins memorial game.

In addition to winning the two trophies this year, and touring Barbados, the TPCC was quite active in the community.

Members working out of 31 Division hosted cricket clinics for four schools in the Division over a five-month period. It concluded with the officers taking the 40 participants on a trip to Niagara Falls.

Officers assigned to 13, 32 and 33 Divisions mentored Special Olympics cricketers and the TPCC presented a cheque for $600 to the Black Internal Support Network for their annual humanitarian trip to Jamaica. 


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