Unlike many community members who use their volunteer service as an Auxiliary Officer as a stepping stone towards becoming a uniformed police officer, Kelvin Chu doesn’t want to become a cop, but is proud to wear the uniform and serve others.
The Canadian Armed Forces second lieutenant and St. John Ambulance deputy unit chief has other reasons.
“I want to learn about community policing and be part of a community where I can help young people learn about citizenship and what it really means to be Canadian,” said Chu, a University of Toronto and Sheridan College graduate.
He was among 65 new Auxiliary members sworn in at this year’s graduation ceremony on November 23 at the Toronto Police College.
“It’s very humbling to be part of a great organization,” Chu, who did internships with Ernst & Young and Deheng Law Firm in China, said. “I forged tremendous friendships and the preparation to get to this stage was very thorough. This is a program I would certainly recommend.”
Chu and Arjun Kapadiya were the valedictorians.
There were two graduating classes this year.
The Humber College criminal justice graduate is keen to follow the footsteps of his late grandfather, a senior law enforcement official in India.
“He was a deputy inspector general before passing away five years ago, and I really looked up to him,” said Kapadiya. “Grandad was a big part of our family’s lives. When I came to Canada in 2004, I joined the Cadet program and rose to the rank of Warrant Officer. Now that I am retired, I am a civilian instructor.”
Kapadiya, a loss prevention officer, is preparing resumes to send out to police services.
“The uniform has been a major part of my life and I hope to be wearing one soon as a uniformed member of a Canadian police service,” he said.
In welcoming the new recruits, Deputy Chief Rick Stubbings reminded them volunteers have been an integral part of policing since 1834 when the city’s police service comprised just one paid officer and 14 volunteers.
“The experience you are about to embark upon will provide an excellent opportunity for you to interact with our police officers and citizens of Toronto,” he said. “…I commend you for your choice and for your willingness to get involved and I want to reassure you that in your role as an Auxiliary officer, you will make a difference.
“…Although police will always be responsible for law and order, a great opportunity exists for all of us to make a very meaningful contribution, which is a direct result of community crime prevention programs and initiatives that promote police as problem-solvers. Auxiliary members play a key role in many of our community crime-prevention programs and services. They help to build and maintain a strong partnership and understanding between the police and the community. You have now joined a remarkable group of men and women whose tremendous willingness to share their life experiences, time and expertise exemplifies the highest level of good citizenship and volunteerism.”
This year’s graduating class comprises 63 per cent visible minorities; 68 per cent have post-secondary education.
Stubbings said the graduates reflect Toronto and the TPS in the 21st century. He urged them to be always professional, work hard, do their best and make the Service and themselves proud.
In making the decision to become Auxiliary officers, you are making a personal contribution to the safety and well-being of your community.
“Most importantly, make Toronto a safer place to live and play,” he added.
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle said the volunteers represent the diversity that makes the City of Toronto such a unique place and they assist the Service in many ways.
“You bring to the Service a rich array of ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity as an astounding three-quarters of you speak a language other than English,” he said. “…You also bring a wide range of backgrounds and experiences… We are lucky to have each of you for your talents, your skills and your insights. You truly bring the community to the Service.”
Pringle told the graduates they are now part of an impressive organization.
“You should all be extremely proud and privileged to stand among those whom you now join,” he said. “…Auxiliary officers such as you make it possible for us to continue to ensure that Toronto is the safest place in which to live, work and play. In making the decision to become Auxiliary officers, you are making a personal contribution to the safety and well-being of your community.
“At the same time, by joining the Auxiliary Service, you are embarking on a tremendous opportunity for career advancement should you choose to pursue policing as a career. I understand that, for many of you, this is your ultimate goal and I encourage you to work towards this. There are many people here who are ready and willing to support you in achieving this goal.”
In each graduating class, the student who demonstrates outstanding performance in the various training programs is presented with the Julian Fantino Award for their proficiency. A former TPS Chief, Fantino was a Metro Toronto Police Auxiliary member for five years before joining the Service in 1969.
The recipients were Alesksandra Milosevski, Peggy Chan and Jarryd Firestone, who made history by becoming the first Auxiliary member to score a perfect 100 per cent mark on the written test.
“This is an accomplishment I am proud of, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of the training instructors who did a fantastic job in preparing us properly,” said Firestone, who has a Bachelor in Applied Science in Justice Studies degree from the University of Guelph-Humber.
A Ryerson University criminology degree graduate, Milosevski –also fluent in French and Macedonian – is a quality assurance specialist with Express Scripts Canada.
“I like helping people and my long-term goal is to become a police officer,” she said.
Chan also aspires to be a Toronto cop.
“I drifted from medical school to wanting to become a lawyer, but then I figured I would have to spend too much time in school before I get a law degree,” said Chan, who graduated from St. Augustine Catholic High School and is in her final year at Western University. “I am a hands-on person and want to work with people, so being a police officer is a good fit.”
Two special awards are presented at the Auxiliary graduation ceremonies.
Staff Sergeant Rick Jordan was the recipient of the James Carnegie Memorial Award.
Presented to an Auxiliary member who demonstrates outstanding leadership skills and proven commitment to the community, the award honours the legacy of the organization’s first Auxiliary officer, whose community involvement was extensive and distinguished for four decades before his passing 18 years ago.
Starting as a volunteer with Durham Regional Police in 2002, where he was a certified car seat technician, Jordan joined TPS four years later and was the class valedictorian.
“The 10 years have gone by quickly and I have enjoyed my time here,” he said.
The William Blair Award, created in 2013 by the Divisional Policing Support Unit to honour an Auxiliary member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to community service, was presented to Acting Staff Sergeant Andrew Mitchell, who is assigned to 22 Division.
He was a Barrie Police Service Auxiliary member for 26 years before retiring and relocating to Etobicoke.
Mitchell joined the TPS Auxiliary program two years ago and was promoted to Sergeant in February 2015. The professional services project management leader works closely with the 22 Division Community Response Unit to lead Auxiliary officers in the delivery of crime-prevention initiatives and short-notice requirements of the Division’s CRU and Major Crime Unit.
Nearly 400 Auxiliaries volunteer 83,000 hours annually, assisting with community mobilization initiatives, crime-prevention programs, special events, parades, searches for missing persons and emergency call-outs.
The Auxiliary program was established 60 years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.
In the last five decades, members have provided countless hours of service during the 2010 G20 Summit, papal visits in 1984 and 2002 during World Youth Day celebrations, at the 2003 Rolling Stones concert and at the sites of the 1962 propane plant explosion in Maple, the 1969 natural gas explosion in Malton and the 1979 trail derailment in Mississauga.