Grade 12 student Amiya Reis loves watching news on television.
One person she enjoys watching is Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, whom she met for the first time at the 22nd annual Crime Stoppers Chief of Police dinner on May 9 at the Liberty Grand.
The Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School student was the recipient of the Student of the Year Award.
“The Chief is such a cool and amazing guy,” said Reis. “I am so happy to meet him in person and I am going to share this wonderful moment with my classmates when I get back to school.”
The award is presented to a student who actively participates in safety and crime prevention in their school community.
“I love giving back to my school and community and I don’t do this for awards,” said the 17-year-old, who aspires to be a kinesiologist. “The recognition is humbling.”
Child & Youth Worker Durga Remba nominated Reis for the award.
“She does a lot for our school,” said Remba. “This young lady is very engaged. She’s an outstanding student, an excellent role model and someone who displays strong leadership in her school.”
St. Marcellus Catholic School won the John Mungham Award for the school that is most actively engaged in safety and crime prevention.
Principal Connie Giordanada accepted the honour on behalf of her school.
“This award means a lot because we really worked hard this year to keep our students safe online,” she said.
Early in the fall, Constable Martin Douglas made an internet safety and cyberbullying presentation to Grades 6, 7 and 8 students.
“His message resonated very well with them,” said Giordanada. “They walked away profoundly moved because they realized they were putting things online that could jeopardize their safety.”
Sex Crimes was presented with the Bill Hancox Memorial Awardfor the TPS unit that goes above and beyond investigating tips provided by the public.
On August 4, 1998, Hancox died in the line of duty after he was stabbed while working undercover.
Toronto Crime Stoppers developed a human trafficking strategy in 2017 to combat sex trafficking of young women in Toronto and surrounding areas. The Service’s human trafficking enforcement team not only embraced the concept, and partnered with Crime Stoppers to support the initiative, they actively participated in the development of the strategies.
Detectives Robert Heitzner and David Correa and Constables Michelle Powell and Teresa Curtis accepted the award on behalf of the unit.
“This is significant because of the officer in whose name it is being given,” said Heitzner. “He paid the ultimate sacrifice with his life and we should never forget that.”
Mission 500 was the recipient of a Recognition Award for their dedication to the program.
The funds they accrue from an annual hockey tournament go to Toronto Crime Stoppers.
This year, they raised $13,393.03.
The Toronto Crime Stoppers program was launched in 1984, after then-Chief Jack Marks asked retired S/Supt. Gary Grant – a sergeant at the time – to start the initiative.
The program is supported by funds accrued from the annual Crime Stoppers Chief of Police gala and the Toronto Police Crime Stoppers charity golf tournament.
Grant, the Toronto Crime Stoppers Board chair, said tips have resulted in the seizure of guns and other weapons as well as large quantities of illicit drugs, including opioids.
During the past year, Crime Stoppers launched a campaign focusing on human trafficking.
“We are in the process of launching an even more aggressive campaign this year,” Grant pointed out. “Be assured that getting the despicable criminals who exploit our vulnerable youth is a passion with Toronto Crime Stoppers.”
Saunders congratulated the awardees and thanked the sponsors for their support.
“The key to Crime Stoppers’ success is the fact that the sponsorship that’s put forward helps to keep Toronto the safest city in the world,” he said. “The money you give is so critical.”
Crime Stoppers is the brainchild of Canadian-born Greg MacAleese, who was an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department in New Mexico. After running out of leads in a homicide investigation, the frustrated cop turned to the public for assistance in 1976.
He produced the first crime re-enactment that was aired on local television and made available to other media outlets and promised that anyone providing information leading to an arrest would be eligible for a cash reward.
Within hours of the broadcast, police received a tip that led to the arrest of two suspects who were charged with murder. They were sentenced to life terms with no chance of parole.
Toronto, which implemented the initiative 34 years ago, has one of the largest programs in the world. There are close to 1,300 Crime Stoppers programs in nearly 20 countries.
Anyone with information about a crime that has occurred, or about to happen, can make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.