Police officers intervened in thousands of situations to save lives and stop criminals from finding further victims in the most trying of circumstances last year.
A committee made up of the public, media and police have chosen a dozen examples of the work of Toronto Police Service officers to be named Officers of the Month and nominated for Officer of the Year.
Beyond the Call of Duty: The 50th Annual Toronto Region Board of Trade Police Officer of the Year Awards are being held on May 16 at First Canadian Place. (For more info/tickets, click here)
Read the stories of their work:
JANUARY l Selfless Actions & Quick Thinking
Constable Allistair Blair - 51 Division
Police received a call from a person saying they had just seen a fully clothed woman jump into Lake Ontario.
Officers arrived on scene and saw a woman floating face down in the water. Without hesitation, Constable Blair jumped into the frigid waters to help the woman. With a flotation ring, the officer was able to hold on to the woman. Nearby officers used a pole to secure the officer as they awaited the arrival of the Marine unit.
Arriving Marine unit officers quickly pulled the officer and the woman from the water. Officers immediately started CPR on the woman and brought her to shore where she was successfully revived, then taken to hospital for treatment.
FEBRUARY l Keen Observations
Constables Aleksandar Kocanovic and Edward O’Toole - 14 Division
On February 16, 2016, police received a call from a bar about a payment dispute involving two men.
As Constables Kocanovic and O’Toole arrived on scene, they spoke with security and learned that one man tried to leave but was stopped.
The man refused to provide officers with identification. He eventually gave them a false name. As the officers continued to investigate him for Fraud, he became aggressive and belligerent. He grabbed Constable O’Toole’s wrist and arm, began yelling and tried to push the officer away from him. As the officer attempted to place the man under arrest, a struggle ensued. The officers managed to get the man to the ground where he continued to struggle. Constable O’Toole advised his partner there was a firearm in the man’s jacket he was attempting to reach. As the struggle continued, Constable O’Toole activated his emergency button and called for assistance. Officers arrived and helped arrest the extremely aggressive man.
MARCH l Diligence & Determination
Detective Constables Michael Kelly and Timothy Trotter - Financial Crimes
Detective Constables Kelly and Trotter received information on a trans-national criminal organization operating in Toronto. A significant source of the organization’s revenue were fraudulent offences against victims in the city, and around the world.
They researched open sources and social media accounts associated with known Toronto-based people with a history of mass-marketing fraud. They quickly noticed that highly specific clothing and logos associated with the criminal organization were present while such persons were photographed in group settings. Together, they developed considerable insight into the membership and activities of the criminal organization, identifying multiple members and associates, along with corporations, vehicles, and meeting locations used by members in Toronto.
Eventually, they discovered whom they believed was the leader of the Toronto branch. In August 2014, they were informed that the man had been detained by U.S. Customs and, subsequently, by Peel Regional Police, in relation to contraband and the discovery of digital evidence of fraud and money-laundering. Aware of the legal limitations on the evidence located, Constable Kelly wrote an application for a search warrant on behalf of Peel Regional Police, resulting in a wealth of information that led to the suspect’s arrest.
Constable Trotter analyzed the data from the seized devices. He identified 85 members and close associates of this criminal organization.
APRIL l Patience & Compassion
Constable William Shikatani - 54 Division
In the late hours of April 18, 2016, officers responded to a call for unknown trouble on a bridge over the Don Valley Parkway.
On arrival, they saw a woman positioned precariously, on the outside of the light pole, above the highway. Officers took control of the scene, assessed the threats to the woman and other members of the public by having traffic diverted on either side of the bridge.
Constable Shikatani engaged the woman in conversation. At first, she was uncooperative. She stated her intentions to jump and asked to be left alone. He would continue the dialogue with her for the next four hours. The weather went from rainy to windy and cold. He was able to obtain an ex-boyfriend’s phone number from the woman that assisted police in identifying her.
He was eventually able to successfully de-escalate the situation and bring it to a safe conclusion by getting the woman to step off the bridge, into a waiting ambulance.
MAY l Brave & Unselfish Actions
Constables Jean Marc Loiselle (12 Division) and Eric Yu (42 Division)
On May 18, 2016, Constables Loiselle and Yu responded to a call for a fire.
On scene, they could see smoke billowing from a third-floor balcony. They entered the building.
Once inside, they realized the fire was coming from a unit with which they were familiar. They knew the occupant whom they would describe as vulnerable, being taken advantage of by gang members. They made the decision to breach the door and enter the apartment. Constable Loiselle entered as Constable Yu updated the dispatcher. Fearing for his partner’s safety, as the fire worsened, Constable Yu entered the apartment before the heat and smoke incapacitated his partner. Unable to locate the occupant, the officers began to retreat.
As they were leaving, they saw a person on the couch, unconscious. They both tried to reach the person but were pushed back by the overpowering heat. Their attempts to rescue the person were unsuccessful. The person was later pronounced deceased. The officers were later told the deceased person was not the occupant.
JUNE l Lifesaving Actions
Constable Nicolas Snyckers (22 Division)
On June 4, 2016, Constable Nicolas Snyckers and his partner responded to a radio call for shots fired. First on scene, they located a suspicious vehicle parked in the curb lane. As they approached the vehicle, they saw an unresponsive man slumped over in the driver’s seat, with a firearm on the passenger seat.
While his partner secured the firearm, Constable Snyckers turned to the man who had received a gunshot wound to his upper leg. Unable to get any response and recognizing the man was in severe distress, Constable Snyckers ran back to his car and retrieved a trauma pack. He applied a tourniquet to the wound, ensuring he didn’t move the man for fear of increasing blood loss. He checked the man’s pulse and respiration. He discovered the man had a very faint pulse but was not breathing. Constable Snyckers removed the man from the vehicle and laid him on the roadway as firefighters arrived. The officer and firefighters began CPR as the man’s condition worsened. Paramedics arrived and began advanced lifesaving medical care. The man was taken via emergency run to a trauma centre where he underwent emergency surgery.
The man recovered to be able to speak with officers the following day. The doctors and paramedic supervisor all said that, if it were not for the application of the tourniquet by Constable Snyckers, the man would have died.
JULY l Keen Observations & Perseverance
Detective Constable Craig Meredith (22 Division)
On July 30, 2016, Constable Craig Meredith was working on a project in the area of a nightclub hosting a Toronto Caribbean Carnival event. Constable Meredith heard multiple gunshots from the club’s rear. As he relayed information to the Communications Operator, he saw a man fleeing the area, armed with a handgun.
Constable Meredith ran towards the suspect, took cover and began speaking to the man, who was attempting to hide among trees at the rear of a nearby building. The officer gave the man commands while continuing 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 was unable to get to him. He changed course and tried to flee the area.
Constable Meredith ran after the man. With assistance from other officers, he apprehended and arrested the man. Officers located a loaded firearm in the man’s possession.
AUGUST l Courage, Compassion, Bravery & Control
Staff Sergeant Joe Matthews (12 Division)
On August 8, 2015, a shooting occurred at Muzik Club. Two people died.
Staff Sergeant Joe Matthews was working a paid duty when the call came over the radio. He was near Dufferin Street and British Columbia Road, right behind a stopped taxi with a shooting victim inside. He approached the passenger, who had been shot three times and was bleeding profusely. He pulled him out of the vehicle, started applying pressure, dressing the wounds, and called for an ambulance. He got a passerby to assist with first aid, to keep the victim stabilized, awaiting the ambulance.
In the time it took for the ambulance to arrive. Staff Sergeant Matthews was faced with a hostile crowd. He was on his own, in uniform. A woman approached him, yelling at him and punched him in the face. He knew that, if he arrested the woman, the victim he was treating might die. He maintained first aid while he verbally tried to deescalate tensions. The woman left the scene.
He attended the hospital with the victim, covered in the victim’s blood. The victim remained in critical, but stable, condition and survived the shooting.
SEPTEMBER l Patience & Compassion
Sergeant Jason Taylor and Constables Jeffrey Hynek, Richard Ruiz, Daniel Smith, Jennifer Walsh and Ashley Wocks
During late-summer 2016, a man with mental-health issues threw a piece of concrete through the front window of a coffee shop. Officers tried to locate him, without success. The next day, officers were called back to the coffee shop to speak with the owner about the same man being verbally abusive to staff.
Constables Richard Ruiz and Ashley Wocks attended the man’s apartment and discovered he had barricaded himself in. He was screaming that he intended to jump off the balcony and wanted officers to shoot him. The officers tried to communicate with him, using de-escalation techniques, but he wouldn’t 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. Other officers remained on the building’s exterior with the man’s balcony in sight. They provided updates to the officers inside.
When all other means had been exhausted, the officers used bolt cutters to get 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 15 minutes, the man put the screwdriver down to get his wallet. The officers seized this opportunity to move towards the man. They placed him in handcuffs. He was then taken to hospital for treatment.
OCTOBER l Quick-thinking & Heroic Actions
Constable Michael Kolankowski (14 Division)
Constable Michael Kolankowski was driving to work, during the early-morning hours, when he noticed a bright light coming from a bus shelter. As he passed the bus shelter, he noticed a man in a wheelchair he believed was on fire. Constable Kolankowski stopped his vehicle. He quickly approached the man whose jacket was on fire. The fire was spreading to the rest of his clothing and the wheelchair.
The man was unable to get out of his wheelchair but 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 officer kicked the wheelchair backwards, freeing the man’s legs. He pulled the man out of the burning jacket and out of the wheelchair, now engulfed in flames. Constable Kolankowski contacted 9-1-1 and assisted in treating the man’s injuries.
NOVEMBER l Quick & Selfless Actions
Constable Andrew Mason (51 Division)
On November 3, 2015, Constable Mason was performing a paid duty at a busy intersection when a lady with a baby in a stroller stopped on the sidewalk in front of a store.
The lock for the stroller was not engaged. The stroller started to roll towards the road. The stroller continued rolling and went over the curb onto the very busy roadway.
Seeing this, without hesitation, Constable Mason blew his whistle and jumped out into the oncoming traffic. He placed himself between the traffic and the stroller and was able to stop the traffic. The woman was then able to stop the stroller from rolling into the next live lane of traffic.
DECEMBER l Exceptional Teamwork & Bravery
Constables Shady Al-Khatib, Scott Amlin, Gentian Barsaku and Jan Glowa (13 Division)
In the late hours of December 12, 2016, police received a call from neighbours who had come to the aid of a hysterical woman, startled from her sleep by her knife-wielding husband. Officers were warned the man had a knife, a sword, or a crossbow. The woman managed to escape, fought her way out of the home, and ran into the street. She was bleeding, screaming for help, saying her three children were still inside, her husband was armed and intended to kill them all.
Constables Jan Glowa, Gentian Barsaku, Shady Al-Khatib and Scott Amlin arrived on scene. They devised a plan to rescue the children. Constables Glowa and Barsaku breached the front door. They were quickly able to locate one of the children, while Constables Al-Khatib and Amlin took control of the exterior perimeter.
As the officers went inside, they were met by an unarmed man fleeing from the top level. He was the suspect’s brother. He explained the suspect was upstairs, beginning to cut himself. They directed the man to the officers outside and continued their rescue efforts. Once on the second floor, they were able to locate another child in his bedroom and hand him over to Constable Al-Khatib who brought him to safety.
The officers discovered the suspect in the master bedroom, holding a knife to his neck and yelling at them to shoot him. When the officers’ attempts to verbally deescalate the situation proved unsuccessful, Constable Glowa took out his pepper spray and sprayed the suspect in the face. Momentarily distracted, the suspect lowered the knife to wipe his face. The officers gained control of him, eventually placing him under arrest. Once in handcuffs, officers assessed the suspect’s injuries and applied first aid.
Shortly afterward, the third child, an infant, was found safely in his crib and reunited with his mother.