Answering Call of Duty

By Renee Angco, Toronto Police Service Published: 12:03 a.m. March 30, 2017

The Service honoured the men and women who make a difference in the lives of Torontonians through their work.

A group of people on a staircase landing in front of an audience
Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle stood alongside the Service members and community being honoured for their heroic work and dedication to duty

"Tonight actions are going to speak louder than words, because you're going to hear stories of courage, compassion and valour and all of the things that make me so proud to be Chief of the Toronto Police Service," Chief Mark Saunders told the hundreds assembled in the lobby of police headquarters. "The men and women of the Toronto Police Service go out every day and try to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people. Tonight is a celebration of those who went above and beyond the call of duty, not only our officers, but our civilian staff, as well as members of the community who understand what it takes in order to keep this city the safest and best city to live in."

The Chief was joined by Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle in honouring 105 Service members and two community members.

"It's so important to recognize and celebrate the individuals who make our city such a wonderful place and our Service such a remarkable organization," Pringle said. "The uniform members of the Service we will honour this evening have far exceeded their demanding day-to-day activities and are living examples of our Service's core values... Equally important the civilian members we honour tonight have given us so much to be proud of their actions. Because their actions inspire each and every one of us to always strive to the heights of professionalism in service to the community."

Stories from the evening:

Members of 11, 12, 13, 14, 31, 33, 42, 51, 52, 54 and 55 Division 

On July 25, 2015, officers were working in the Entertainment District when they were asked by Intelligence officers to assist with the arrest of a man wanted for two recent murders. A plan was established to arrest the man in a parking lot when he returned to his vehicle from a nearby nightclub. 

A short time later, the suspect left the club and got into his vehicle. Constables James Dunne, Jeffery Riel and Darryl Lambie approached the vehicle on their bicycles as the remaining officers drove into the parking lot to assist. The three bicycle officers were immediately met with heavy gunfire from inside the suspect’s vehicle. The additional officers entering the parking lot were able to find cover, however, Constables Dunne, Riel and Lambie had nowhere to go because they were in an open area of the parking lot. Aware that their movement in any direction would place citizens nearby at risk, the officers chose to take a stand and return fire. Their actions ultimately saved their own lives and those of the nearby citizens. During a pause in the shooting, the suspect exited his vehicle and attempted to make his escape on foot. However, he had been fatally wounded and he immediately collapsed onto the pavement. 

Once the shooting ended, the three officers were able to arrest a second man who was attempting to flee in the suspect’s vehicle. Constables Laura Ball, Susana Musso Duarte, Vittorio Dominelli, Kyung Lee, Mustafa Safari and Eric Yu immediately went to the aide of the bicycle officers. In another part of the parking lot, Constables Gareth Anderson, William Carbray and Scott MacNeish took another one of the suspect’s associates into custody. 

It was later determined that during the gun fight, Constable Riel had been shot but he did not sustain any injury. The bullet hit his duty holster missing the unprotected part of his body by mere inches. 

Although there was a loss of life that night, if it was not for the actions of the officers’ in executing their plan, the suspect would have made good his escape and continued to pose a risk to the community.

Constable Michael Kolankowski, 14 Division 

Constable Kolankowski was driving to work during the early morning hours when he noticed a bright light coming from inside a bus shelter. As he passed the bus shelter, he noticed a man sitting in a wheelchair that he believed to be on fire. Constable Kolankowski stopped his vehicle and quickly approached the man whose jacket was on fire. The fire was spreading quickly to the rest of his clothing and the wheelchair. The man was unable to get out of his wheelchair on his own but he was attempting to extinguish the fire with his arm. Constable Kolankowski had difficulty getting the man out of the wheelchair because the man’s legs were jammed underneath the wheelchair. Constable Kolankowski kicked the wheelchair backwards freeing the man’s legs. He pulled the man out of the burning jacket and out of the wheelchair which was now engulfed in flames. Constable Kolankowski contacted 9-1-1 and assisted in treating the man’s injuries.

Detective Constable Craig Meredith, 22 Division 

On July 30, 2016, Constable Meredith was working on a project in the area of a local night club hosting a Caribana event. While in the area, Constable Meredith heard multiple gun shots coming from the rear of the club. As he relayed information to the Communications Operator, the officer observed a man fleeing the area armed with a hand gun. 

Recognizing the imminent threat to those in the area, Meredith ran towards the suspect, took cover and began speaking to the man who was attempting to hide among the trees at the rear of a nearby building. The officer gave the man verbal commands while he continued to update the communications operator about the situation, his location and the need for more officers. The man decided to run at the officer but he was unable to get at the officer so he changed course and tried to flee from the area. 

Constable Meredith ran after the man and with the assistance of other officers, was able to apprehend the man and arrest him. At the time of the arrest, officers located a loaded firearm in the man’s possession.

Two men in TPS uniform shake hands
Constable Michael Kolankowski is congratulated by Deputy Chief Jim Ramer for his efforts to save a man who was on fire

Constable Nicolas Snyckers, 22 Division 

On June 4, 2016, Constable Snyckers and his partner responded to a radio call for shots being fired. The officers were the first to arrive on scene and they located a suspicious vehicle parked in the curb lane of the road. As they approached the vehicle, the officers observed an unresponsive man slumped over in the driver’s seat with a firearm lying beside him on the passenger seat. 

While his partner was securing the firearm, Snyckers turned his attention to the man who had clearly suffered a gunshot wound to his upper leg. Unable to illicit any response from the man and recognizing that the man was in severe distress, Constable Snyckers ran back to his police car and retrieved a trauma pack that he carries on duty. The officer applied a tourniquet to the man’s wound while ensuring that he did not move the man for fear of increasing the blood loss. After securing the tourniquet, Snyckers checked the man’s pulse and respirations and discovered that the man had a very faint pulse but was not breathing. Snyckers extracted the man from the vehicle and lay him on the roadway as Toronto Fire Services arrived on scene. The officer and firefighters began CPR on the man as his condition began to worsen. Paramedics arrived a short time later and began advanced lifesaving medical care. The man was then transported via emergency run to a nearby trauma centre where he underwent emergency surgery. 

The male had recovered enough to be able to speak with officers the following day. The doctors and paramedic supervisor all stated that if it were not for the application of the tourniquet by Constable Snyckers, the man would not be with us today.

Constables Jason Bannister and Constantinos Michaelidis, 53 Division 

On October 31, 2016 Constables Bannister and Michaelidis were driving by a bank when they observed a man standing nearby acting in a suspicious manner. Fearing the man was about to commit a criminal offence, the officers returned to the bank. As they did so, they saw the man place a scarf over his face, put on a pair of gloves and dark glasses and pull the hood of his sweater up over his head prior to entering the bank. 

As the officers entered the bank, the man was in the customer line, holding a note in his hand. The officers continued their observations when the man became aware of their presence. He placed the piece of paper back into his pocket, pulled the scarf down from his face, removed the hood from his head and began to make his way to the exit. 

As he was exiting the bank, Bannister and Michaelidis detained the man so they could conduct their investigation. The officers searched the man and located a hand written note in his jacket pocket indicating he was armed and his intention was to rob the bank. The man was arrested and charged accordingly.

Nadine Rambharack, Records Management Services 

In the Fall of 2016, members of Professional Standards commenced an investigation into the conduct of a Toronto Police employee relating to unauthorized use of a variety of computer systems. The investigation required the analysis of numerous records, phone logs and offline searches. 

Rambharack was assigned the task of analyzing over 5,000 lines of data, both electronic and hard copy. As a result of this onerous task, Ms. Rambharack created a thorough spreadsheet that would prove to be a key component of the investigation. She kept investigators apprised of her progress throughout and upon receiving any requests from investigators, was quick to respond, while always maintaining a positive attitude. 

Rambharack took this extremely onerous task and fulfilled her duties with a high level of integrity.

Members of 12 Division 

On August 19, 2016, a man suffering from mental health issues threw a piece of concrete through the front window of a coffee shop. Officers attempted to locate him without success. The following day, officers were called back to the coffee shop to speak with the owner about the same man being verbally abusive to the staff. 

Constables Richard Ruiz and Ashley Wocks attended the man’s address and discovered that he had barricaded himself in his apartment. The man was screaming that he intended to jump off the balcony and that he wanted police officers to shoot him. The officers attempted to communicate with the man using de-escalation techniques but he would not respond. The officers called for a supervisor and additional officers to attend. 

A short time later, Sergeant Jason Taylor and Constables Daniel Smith, Jeffrey Hynek and Jennifer Walsh arrived on scene. A few of the officers remained on the exterior of the building with the male’s balcony in sight and provided updates of their observations to the officers inside the apartment building. 

When all other means had been exhausted, the officers utilized bolt cutters to gain access into the apartment. They found the man crouched in a corner, sweating profusely, screaming and yelling profanities, while holding a screw driver in his hand. The officers were able to engage with the man in a quiet and calm manner. After about 15 minutes, the man put the screwdriver down to access his wallet. The officers seized this opportunity to move towards the man, and place him in handcuffs. He was then transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Constables William Gordon, Daniel Ramos, Diana Croll, Alexandra Shakov, Laura Langdon, Vincent Langdon and (community member) Rhys Langdon 

From July to August of 2016, ProAction Cops & Kids TROOP Program provided canoe trips for youth and police officers to Algonquin Provincial Park. On July 20, 2016, while participating in a canoe expedition, the entire TROOP contingent stopped to rest and swim at a beach. At this location, Constable Laura Langdon overheard a man telling his wife that he could see, through his binoculars, two children out on the lake and they appeared to be in distress. Constable Langdon identified herself as a police officer and asked then man for more information. He indicated that the boys were about one kilometre from the beach and they did not have a boat or any floatation devices. Langdon notified Constables Vincent Langdon and William Gordon about the situation. They immediately got into a kayak and headed towards the children. Constables Laura Langdon and Daniel Ramos notified park wardens of the situation and reassured the growing crowd that Langdon and Gordon were police officers and they would rescue the children. 

Constables Vincent Langdon and Gordon quickly located two 11-year-old boys submerged in the water holding onto a tree trunk. They were cold and exhausted and explained that they had ventured out too far into the water. Within minutes, Constables Diana Croll and Alexandra Shakov arrived in a canoe and transported the boys back to safety. Park wardens advised the officers that they had been searching the park for the two boys for the past three hours. 

On July 26, 2016, the TROOP program was participating in their second canoe trip. While conducting basic canoe-skill training, Constable Vincent Langdon noticed something thrashing in the water about one kilometre away from the shoreline. Constable Gordon went in his kayak to investigate. As he got closer, the officer noticed a couple submerged in the water after their canoe had capsized and the current had taken their canoe, life jackets and paddles down the river. Constable Gordon signalled back to the others for help. Constable Ramos and youth participant Mr. Rhys Langdon got in their canoe and went to assist. They rescued the couple and transported them back to safety as Constable Gordon retrieved the items that had floated away.

Project Rx Investigative Team 

In September 2013, an investigation began into a series of serious criminal offences including homicides, shootings, firearm possession, robberies and drug trafficking by members of two local street gangs. These gangs were operating as a criminal organization in areas such as Toronto, Durham Region, Peel Region, York Region, Hamilton, Windsor, Montreal and Alberta. The Toronto Police Service and five other law enforcement agencies entered into a joint investigation. 

In February and April of 2014, a judge granted two Authorizations to Intercept Private Communications for the investigation. A total of 122 people were named parties in the authorizations. The wire-tap phase of this investigation was successful in disrupting and dismantling these street gangs, and resulted in the seizure of numerous firearms and narcotics. The arrested parties were charged with a variety of offences including Murder, Drug Trafficking, and Armed Robbery. 

In May of 2014, over 40 search warrants were simultaneously executed across the GTA with the assistance of 17 police agencies. The warrants resulted in the seizure of more firearms and narcotics, and also resulted in 27 additional arrests. 

Members conducted countless hours of surveillance and prepared voluminous affidavits in support of the two wiretap authorizations, the search warrants and arrest warrants related to these criminal organizations. Investigators for this project were seconded from various units throughout the Service and a strong team atmosphere was developed and continued for the duration of the project.

Members of 31 Division and Hold Up 

On March 14, 2016, a violent armed robbery occurred at a grocery store. Three suspects wearing disguises, and one armed with a handgun, entered the store and physically assaulted the employees. While en route to the grocery store, Detective Wayne Bates, and Constables Carlo Colacci and Sergio Simas drove by an apartment building. As they did so, they observed a man wearing a dark hooded jacket entering building. Constable Colacci contacted the building superintendent and reviewed the apartment’s surveillance video. Detective Bates and Constable Simas continued on to the grocery store. As a result of the officers remaining in constant contact and comparing information about the people captured on the videos, the officers determined that the three suspects in the robbery investigation were at the apartment building. Detective Bates, and Constable Simas returned to the apartment building along with Constable Mark Haljaste. 

A plan was devised to attend an apartment on the 8th floor where the suspects were located. Upon their arrival on the 8th floor, the officers saw the suspects enter an elevator. They immediately ran back down the stairs to the ground floor. The group of officers met the elevator on the ground floor. As the suspects were exiting the elevator they saw the officers and the suspects ran from the building. The officers engaged in a foot pursuit. 

All of the suspects were arrested. During the arrest, the officers discovered a loaded .22 calibre sawed off rifle concealed in one of the suspect’s pants. 

Several associates of the robbery suspects were also arrested for other offences including being in breach of their bail conditions and one for being in possession of a loaded .38 calibre handgun.

Members of 11, 32, 33 Division and Communications Services 

On May 28, 2016, a Children’s Aid Society (CAS) worker called police regarding the apprehension of a newborn child. The worker had concerns that the father was showing signs of anger. The baby was being apprehended due to drug abuse and family instability. She requested police assistance to keep the peace during the apprehension. 

After conducting a background check on the father Sergeant David Windsor determined that the father was well known to police and provided the attending officers, with a photograph of the man. A short time later, the CAS worker called back and advised police that the father left the hospital and was overheard saying he was going to get a weapon. Sergeant Sean Cosgrove had just reported on duty and was being updated about the situation at the hospital. He also received information about another call to police involving a father assaulting the caller and leaving with a handgun and returning with 2 other men to the hospital. Cosgrove was provided a picture of the father by Windsor and the description was broadcast by Communications Operators Maureen Fowlds and Peter Gal. They played an instrumental part in the events as they unfolded by keeping the officers apprised of the most current information. 

As Cosgrove was about to enter the hospital, a car pulled up to the same entrance. The officer recognized the man that exited the vehicle as the baby’s father. Two other men remained in the vehicle. Sergeant Cosgrove placed a call for back up, that he had the suspect at his location. Noticing that the suspect was empty handed, Cosgrove took this opportunity to tackle the man, taking him to the ground. At the same time, Constables Zeeshan Dhukai, Thomas Hwang, Rickey Roopnarine and Neil Webb arrived on scene and initiated a gunpoint arrest of the two men inside the vehicle. A search of the vehicle revealed a loaded .32 calibre handgun and a bag with approximately 30 loose rounds in it.

Members of 51 Division and Homicide 

On May 28, 2016, a woman was viciously assaulted by a man in her apartment. The woman was able to text a friend about what had occurred. The friend contacted the police. Constable Christopher Drake was the first officer on scene and as he was entering the building the officer met a man who was exiting the building. Constable Drake asked the man a few questions, including whether he had heard any type of disturbance or altercation. The man said no but he thought some people were partying on the 8th floor. The man continued on his way out of the building as the officer made his way up to the victim’s apartment. 

When the woman opened the door, the officer could see obvious injuries to her face. A cursory inspection of the apartment showed signs that a sexual assault had taken place. After obtaining a detailed description of the suspect and a the name of a local shelter that he frequented, Drake realized that the man he had spoken to when he arrived at the apartment building was in fact the suspect. This information was relayed to Constable Faizal Karmali who went to the shelter in an attempt to locate the suspect. As the officer was speaking with staff, the suspect was told that police were looking for him and he managed to escape through a back entrance. 

Drake felt that the victim may be uncomfortable speaking to a male officer about what had occurred, so he called for a female officer to attend. Constable Aleksandra Zlobicki and her partner Constable Andrew Mason arrived a short time later. Constable Zlobicki spoke with the woman and immediately established a rapport. She was able to obtain details of the attack, secure the woman’s clothing for evidentiary purposes and obtained permission to take photographs of the injuries and to swab the woman’s body for DNA analysis. As this was happening, Constable Mason attended the property management office where he was able to obtain footage of the suspect and the woman entering the building, and the man leaving the building. The footage was turned over to Constable Niki Spyropoulos. Detectives Hannah Bartz and Philip Hibbeln arrived at the apartment and were updated on the situation. 

The following day, Constables Drake and Karmali returned to the shelter. The officers observed the suspect walking in the area. The officers were able to arrest the suspect without incident and transport him to 51 Division. Constable Philip Wong examined an iPad located in the victim’s apartment and through text conversations stored on the device, was able to corroborate the victim’s account of the attack. DNA analysis also provided a match to the suspect. The suspect pled guilty in criminal court and on October 7, 2016, he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Members of 55 Division 

On October 20, 2016, the officers responded to a call for a person threatening suicide. A nurse practitioner reported that her patient who was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had phoned her to say that he was going into Lake Ontario. The nurse advised that the man was violent and suicidal. 

Sergeant Erasmo Caccavale and Constables Jean Bourgeois and Nektaria Mangos were the first officers on scene and they began a search for the man. They found him standing shirtless, waist deep in the frigid waters of Lake Ontario. A short time later, Constables Kevin Hill, Stephen Mugford, Bahroze Khan, Damion Creighton and Alexandru Creighton arrived at the scene. The officers were able to engage in conversation with the man and he listened to their instructions to move toward the shoreline. Approximately 50 meters from the shoreline, in thigh high water, the man stopped responding to the officers. Sergeant Caccavale and Constables Bourgeois, Mangos, Hill, Mugford and Khan entered the water. During this time, the man’s demeanor changed from combative to suicidal. Fearing for the safety of everyone involved, Sergeant Caccavale positioned himself behind the man and deployed his TASER. The man collapsed into the water and the officers were able to handcuff the man and gain control of the situation. The man was then transported to the hospital for treatment.

Nurse Avi Unger – Submitted by 55 Division 

On June 4, 2016, police received a call from a man who was reporting that a female friend was on the phone with him, telling the caller that she was on the roof of her condo building and was threatening to jump. 

Several officers, along with the Mobile Crisis Intervention Team that included Nurse Avi Unger responded to the call. One of the officers went to the roof and located the woman lying near the edge of the roof with her cell phone in hand. She had climbed over two barriers, approximately five-feet high, to get to the edge of the roof. A short time later, more officers and Nurse Unger arrived on the rooftop. Aware that the sight of police officers may make the woman more agitated, Unger began to engage her in conversation. He spoke with the woman for a few minutes and was able to convince her to hand him her cell phone. As she moved closer to him, Unger and a nearby officer grabbed the woman’s arm and pulled her to safety. The woman struggled but the officer was eventually able to place her in handcuffs. The woman was then transported to the hospital for treatment.

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