Constable Chris Devereaux is thankful that his community has his back.
The officer, assigned to Yorkdale Shopping Centre, had confronted a man who had just parked a stolen car on June 21, 2016, when the situation quickly escalated.
Security Officer Richard Dermody had seen Devereaux approach the man on camera and headed to the area, in case of an altercation, along with Security Officer Sevilay Kayalica.
“By the time I got there, the officer and the suspect were on the ground in a struggle,” said Dermody, who jumped in and helped Devereaux put handcuffs on the suspect.
“As we were pulling him up on his feet, then is when I noticed a gun on the ground,” added Dermody.
Kayalica, who also assisted with the arrest, retrieved the loaded handgun.
A male and a female, who were with the suspect, were also arrested.
Dermody and Kayalica were among several selfless citizens recognized with Community Member Awards at Toronto Police headquarters on April 30.
Devereaux attended the ceremony and again acknowledged the assistance he received from Dermody and Kayalica.
“If they hadn’t jumped in, there could have been an extreme risk to public safety,” he said. “I had no information that the party was armed.”
In his 20-year police career, it was the first time Devereaux was involved in a struggle with a gun-toting suspect.
“This one ended well and I am grateful for the help I received from the Yorkdale security personnel,” he added.
A total of 51 citizens were recognized for unselfish acts of bravery and courage.
On June 14, 2016, Randy Blain and his eight-year-old daughter, who was recovering from a broken arm, had just left The Hospital for Sick Children when Blain saw Constable Lisa Forbes scuffling with a man.
“I was at a three-way stop when I glanced to my right and saw an officer on the ground being attacked, with people watching,” Blain recounted. “I pulled over, off the road, and told my daughter not to get out of the truck while I went to assist the officer.”
The Huntsville resident tackled the suspect to the ground, allowing the officer to regain control of the situation and put the suspect in handcuffs.
“I did it because it was the right thing to do and I will do it again,” said Blain.
Acting Deputy Chief Richard Stubbings thanked the award winners who demonstrated quick thinking, compassion and the courage to get involved and help others who, often, were complete strangers.
“Though there are 51 of you, of various ages and walks of life, there is one common theme that is readily available,” he said. “All of you are courageous citizens who acted selflessly for the greater good of others. Your courageous acts saved lives and they were often performed with little regard for your own safety.
“Communities are important in a complex and large city like Toronto and creating important partnerships help us all to maintain safer communities. This will always be the case as our Service continues to enhance partnerships within the communities it serves every day.”
Toronto Police Services Board vice-chair Chin Lee said his board relished the opportunity to honour extraordinary community members who have played key roles in helping police ensure neighbourhoods are safe.
“As our Service undergoes an exciting modernization and transformation, we are looking, more than ever before, to our community to partner with us in ensuring a safe Toronto,” he noted. “We are reminded that there are many good people in our city, people who care and are prepared to go the extra mile for our community.”
Click here to read all of the Community Member Award stories