Mamon Ahmed’s lifelong dream was to become a police officer and make a difference in the community.
On the second day of his planned 10-day honeymoon in Varadero, Cuba, he received an e-mail from Toronto Police inviting him to attend an interview.
“I looked at my wife and told her I have to go,” he recalled. “This was my dream and there was no way I was going to let this opportunity go.”
Ahmed returned to Toronto the same day and was successful in his quest to be a law enforcement officer. He was among 27 recruits presented with their badges at a graduation ceremony on September 27 at the police college.
Raised in Parkdale and Regent Park, Ahmed was accustomed to seeing police in his community.
“I liked the fact that they were there engaging with residents while trying to make the place safer,” he said. “That’s what I saw and it left a lasting impression on me.”
Ahmed completed the Police Foundations program at Centennial College and graduated with honours in Criminology & Justice Studies from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in 2016.
He also served as a Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) student and is the second YIPI to become a police officer. Assigned to Staff Planning, Ahmed met retired Superintendent Scott Weidmark – a staff sergeant at the time – who became his mentor.
“Coming into police headquarters for the first time could be very intimidating for a young kid,” he said. “Mamon came in with a positive attitude, open mind and was very respectful.”
Weidmark, who retired after 35 years with the Service, said Mamon worked extremely hard that summer and was willing to learn and adapt.
“I gave him a special project that was research-based,” he said. “Mamon did an excellent job for us and the work he did became part of a tool that we use for the employment of recruits.”
Weidmark, who attended Ahmed’s wedding last year, presented his mentee with his badge.
“It’s the first time I have ever done that, and it was quite the honour,” he said.
Like Ahmed, Rachel Packer – one of five women in the recruiting class – graduated from UOIT and started considering policing as a career at a very young age.
“At eight years, I started thinking about it and when I got to high school, I became interested in law and working with people,” she said. “I was thinking about going to law school, but I deviated because I believe policing is a career where I could be most impactful.”
The former swim and ski instructor and gym counsellor is the niece of Tim Packer who spent 18 years with the Service before retiring in 2000 to pursue art as a full-time career. He presented the badge to her.
“My uncle never really pushed me to go in this direction,” said Packer, who was also a security guard at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. “Once I started applying, he told me Toronto Police is the place to go. I didn’t even look at another police service.”
Packer, who won the Diversity & Inclusion Award and had to attend the ceremony in crutches after injuring herself in training, has been assigned to 51 Division.
When Josh Tolunay arrived in Canada from Japan, where he spent three years teaching English, he didn’t expect to land a job so quickly with Toronto Police.
“I liked teaching, but I didn’t think that it was something I could do for the rest of my life,” said Tolunay, who was born and raised in England.
He worked as a security officer at the University Health Network and was a Victim Services Toronto volunteer for about 18 months before applying to become a uniformed member last September.
“As soon as I saw the Service was hiring again, I applied and everything worked out well,” said Tolunay, who is starting his career at 11 Division. “My parents taught me to give back to the community, so I think they will be proud that I am in a profession where I can do that.”
In welcoming the new officers, Deputy Chief Peter Yuen remarked that they represent a generation of officers who are the most trained, educated and informed.
“Use these skills to show the public every single day that you too believe and demonstrate the best of what policing has become,” he said. “You are part of an organization that offers some of the best programs to help you optimize your well-being. Use them.”
Yuen told the newcomers that they will be called on to be leaders.
“You will also be expected to use your training to think broadly and act in the public interest while always looking for ways to add value and make a positive impact on your fellow members and the public,” he said.
The recruits bring a range of diversity to the Service, including languages.
They speak Arabic, Turkish, Japanese, Hindi, Urdu, Dari, Farsi, Macedonian, Portuguese and French.
“Your diversity is a mirror of our city,” said Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Andy Pringle. “The quality is strengthened when the diversity of our great city is reflected in those who police it. Through you, we can reach out to our different communities and neighbourhoods, speak to community members in their home languages, build and strengthen relationships and thus enhance our ever-important partnership with the public.”
As the Service’s newest members, Pringle told the recruits they are now part of the organization’s significant transformation and any contribution they can make as to how Toronto Police can serve the public more effectively and efficiently will be greatly appreciated.
“It’s an exciting time and it’s an important time,” he said. “…Be proud of yourselves as you perform your valued responsibilities. Take satisfaction in knowing that your role is critical in keeping our city safe and allowing us to enjoy a quality of life that’s envied around the world.”
Mayor John Tory, who is also a member of the TPSB, said this is a proud day for the graduates and the Service.
“This is the second graduation of the year and there is more to come in terms of the recruiting that we are doing to make sure the excellence of this police service is maintained,” he said. “…This day marks the beginning of the graduates’ highly respected career in public service. I believe that public service of any kind is still one of the most honourable things you can do.”
The recruits underwent 23 weeks of intense training, 12 of them at the Ontario Police College.
A/Superintendent Steven Molyneaux, the unit commander at the police college, told the recruits that their training isn’t over.
“In fact, it’s just the beginning,” he said. “You have agreed to be lifelong learners and the Service will help you with that as we partner with accredited academic institutions. But we need your commitment.”
Molyneaux reminded the rookies that the community is the Service’s partners and they should never be too busy to interact with people.
“When you go out and connect with a community member, they will never forget how you made them feel,” he said. “As the Service continues to modernize, let’s ensure that we stay true to our values by demonstrating service at the core and by doing the right thing.”
In addition to Packer, other award winners were Joanna Manka, the recipient of the Harry Mayzell Leadership Award, Jeremy Burns was the Military Veterans Award winner, Kristin Young won the Honour Student Award with a top mark of 99 per cent, Belinda Brown was presented with the Physical Training High Performance Award and Nicholas Adams captured the Physical Training Most Improved Award.
Luke Gavin was the class valedictorian.
The other graduates were Michael Balloutine, Alexander Bell, Eric Blanchette, Anthony Bossio, Brett Buchanan, Americo Coutinho, Aaron Dale, Charles Demore, Michael Doidge, Stuart Fraser, Christopher Jachyra, Muhammad Masood, Aleksandra Milosevski, Gregory Nitsotolis, Justin Talsma, Varun Thakur and Fahad Zamir.
The recruits raised $2,500 from a barbecue that was presented to SickKids Hospital.