Though more than 40 years has elapsed, Lloyd Skeete clearly remembers the reaction of some friends when he told them he was sending in a job application to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force (now Toronto Police Service).
“It was said that I would never be hired because of my skin colour,” recalled Skeete, who migrated from Barbados in 1969 and was employed by Chrysler Canada for five years before applying to Canada’s largest municipal police service. “In addition to being a mechanic, my father was a preacher and he always preached that, if you try hard enough, you will succeed.”
His dad was right.
Informed that only temporary positions were available at the time, Skeete saw this as an opportunity to get his feet through the front door.
“I knew that, once I proved that I could do my work, the chances of me being hired full-time were more than favourable,” he said.
Less than three weeks after being on the job as a clerk at the Service’s Garage, Skeete was promoted to the Order Desk.
“At the time, all we had was Plymouth vehicles and I was familiar with the products and part numbers, having worked at Chrysler,” he pointed out. “When an order request came in from the mechanics, I didn’t have to go to the catalogue. I knew what they wanted and would go and get it right away for them.”
Of course, Skeete’s fast promotion didn’t go down well with most of his colleagues, some of whom had been on the job for many years.
“That didn’t bother me,” he said. “I knew my job and I did it to the best of my ability. That’s all that mattered.”
Five years later, Skeete was on the move again.
He was assigned to 52 Division as the property custodian.
“That was the best job I have had in my 41 years with the Service,” said Skeete, recognised with a 40-Year Long Service Award on November 3. “I did real police work because I had to read the occurrences. While there, I instituted a system that made it easy to find property in our possession. If I was away from work, anybody could go to a chart I made up and be able to go directly to a spot and find the property they were searching for. That system was implemented Service-wide.”
After five years at the Division, Skeete moved to the payroll office and then Stores, where he was part of a team responsible for issuing uniforms and other equipment to officers.
“I was comfortable in that role until one day when an officer, who had a meeting with the Chief, needed his pants hemmed,” said Skeete. “My boss asked if I could help and I said ‘yes’ even though I had never done any tailoring before. I hemmed my pants and that was it. I figured that I did such a good job with the officer’s pants that, the next thing you know, I was hemming pants and doing other tailoring duties like measuring pants seams and putting on flashes, patches and chevrons.”
Ed McCabe, who is in charge of the Fleet Division, said Skeete is extremely dependable and reliable.
“He shows up every day and still works just as hard as the first day he started,” said McCabe. “He’s also like a father figure to some of our younger members.”
When former Chief Julian Fantino's personal executive assistant resigned suddenly in 2003, Kellie O’Connor filled the role, temporarily, before becoming a permanent fixture after her application was successful.
Thirteen years later, she still occupies the office closest to the Chief, having served Bill Blair for a decade and now Mark Saunders.
On November 3, she was honoured for 30 years of service to the organization.
The journey started in 1985 when O’Connor left Blake, Cassels & Graydon, where she was a law clerk.
“There was a job position in Toronto Police Service’s Legal division and I applied and was successful,” she recounted. “I did that for four years until a positing was advertised for an executive assistant to the four Deputy Chiefs we had at the time.”
As a member of the Executive Command for eight years, up until 2003, O’Connor was Executive Assistant to then Deputy Chiefs Mike Boyd and Joe Hunter before working for Fantino.
“I have really enjoyed my time with the organization,” she said. “What has made it so fulfilling is the people I have worked with throughout the years and the relationships I have established.”
O’Connor was in her 10th year on the job when Sergeant Wendy Drummond was recruited.
With a great-great-aunt one of the Service’s first female officers, and her great grandfather and father -- Jim Shaw – being Service members, it was only fitting that she would pursue a law enforcement career.
Three years into the job, Drummond met Craig Drummond while they were members of the Service’s Dragon Boat team. An Auxiliary member at the time, he soon became a uniformed member and they tied the nuptial knot
Honoured for 20 years of distinguished service, Drummond said policing has been an extremely rewarding career.
“I have grown as a person while being exposed to many diverse roles in the organization,” she said.
is part of the strategy management team overseeing the Service’s social media