School Officer Connects With Kids

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 6 a.m. June 14, 2018

Bullied in high school, Constable Claudia Bednarczyk knows the significant damage inflicted on young people by such behaviour.

A woman in TPS uniform holding a glass award
Constable Claudia Bednarczyk was named the 2018 42 Division Community Police Liaison Committee Officer of the Year

That’s the main reason she took on the role of Community School Liaison Officer (CSLO) in 42 Division five years ago.

She’s assigned to elementary public and private schools, including Montessori and Islamic schools.

“Bullying is awful and it hurts,” said Bednarczyk, who was presented with the 42 Division Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) Officer of the Year award at their annual community picnic on June 9 in Scarborough. “Once I was home, I was cut off from bullying because there was no social media back then. It’s so different now and I see what kids have to endure and the toll it can take on them.”

The married mother of two young children joined the Service in 2006.

“I did a lot of jobs and it wasn’t until I was about 23 that I figured that policing is the career I can make the most impact in,” said Bednarczyk (@TPSOfficerB ), who uses social media to share the positive contributions she’s making in the school community. “I love what I do and I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing young people taking some of my advice and doing good things.”

As her Division’s CSLO, she presents safety lectures, helps train safety patrollers and liaises with teachers and administrative staff to ensure that their school environments are safe.

“Claudia is a very visible member of our school community,” said John G. Diefenbaker Public School Principal Francesca Capano. “She has been at our school for the last two-and-a-half years and, prior to that, she was the liaison officer at Thomas L. Wells Public School where I was stationed. So, I have known her for quite a while. She has a remarkable rapport with the students to the point where they just feel so comfortable saying hello to her when she comes in. When I am navigating complex issues, she’s a very useful resource that I can call on for support. She’s so approachable and we just love having her at our school.”

A woman with a boy and girl holding oversized cheques
42 CPLC member Carol Evans with students Daniel Brown and Aathmika Nandan

In 1998, the Merry Go Round Children’s Foundation established the Kids, Cops & Computers program to level the playing field for financially disadvantaged students by providing laptop computers and support in the form of police mentorship so they have the means to succeed.

Bednarczyk teaches computer skills and online safety to students who are presented with laptop computers at the end of the program.

She also initiated Cops Chat, a lunchtime program that provides mentorship to female students.

Constable Alison Burns, the 42 Division Community Relations Officer, helped nominate Bednarczyk for the prestigious award.

“In her CSLO role, she goes above and beyond,” said Burns. “She started programs that are not mandated and she just loves what she’s doing. This is an amazing officer who cares.”

Funds raised from the annual picnic go to community and youth programs, a $1,500 scholarship and a $500 student award.

L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute graduate Aathmika Nandan, who will pursue Life Sciences & Psychology studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, was the scholarship recipient.

Graduating with an average above 95 per cent, she still found time to volunteer in the community.

“We embrace students who give back to the community and go above and beyond to add to the quality of life for others,” said CPLC scholarship committee chair Carol Evans. “This young lady volunteers with a shelter and she reaches out to homeless people. She’s a giver and we would like to clone her.”

Nandan is also a swim instructor.

Daniel Brown, who graduated from St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School and is enrolled in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Film Studies program, was presented with the Student Award.

“I love that he has a passion,” noted Evans. “He’s going forward in a very non-traditional area and that takes courage.”

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