Quick thinking and the courage of a well-known Canadian actor may have averted a tragedy on Lake Ontario earlier this year.
John Boylan, who played Deputy Police Chief Talbot inBlue Murder, was recognized with a Community Member Award on September 23, at police headquarters, for jumping into the water to rescue a man whose homemade wooden vessel started sinking after the engine lost power.
On May 25, 2018, Boylan was on his way to visit his daughter and her partner who have a houseboat at a marina.
“When I got right to the shoreline, the security guard related to me that someone was in the water calling for help,” recounted Boylan, the founding director of the Centre for the Arts. “I jumped off my bike and I went over to the edge and saw a man in the water and the little boat he was in had overturned. There were a couple of guys on the shore, one of whom had a pole that was too short. There was a young guy there who didn’t want to get into the water for fear that he might be pulled in by the man in distress, so I jumped in because that‘s what I have always done. I was around water in Vancouver and I swam a lot.”
Boylan, 71, said the water was rough and cold.
“It was a challenge, but I swam out for about 300 metres and took hold of the line of the boat,” he said. “The guy was in bad shape and just moaning at that point. It was not until I was in the water that I realized I had on my shoes which, I thought, wasn’t a good thing. But half of my brain was pretty cool, so I took it easy and just took him in despite the waves, which were crashing pretty hard.”
Once on shore, the victim was taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia.
A total of 32 Community Member Awards were presented for unselfish assistance rendered to the Service at Toronto Police Headquarters on September 23.
There were also 15 Letters of Recognition awarded to Toronto Fire Services, Toronto Paramedic Services, Bank of Montreal and Toronto Transit Commission members.
Sex Crimes D/Sgt. Nunziato Tramontozzi was the sole Service member honoured at the event, for a community partnership he fostered.
He was recognized with a Commendation granted by the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) for exceptional performance of duty, community policing initiatives or innovations or initiatives that enhance the image or operation of the Service.
Tramontozzi was instrumental in the success of Project Protect, launched in 2016 by the Bank of Montreal in partnership with other financial institutions, the Financial Transactions & Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FinTRAC), technological companies, law enforcement and government and non-government agencies.
Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, TD Bank, Royal Bank and CIBC are part of the project that use money trails to detect and investigate traffickers.
The anti-money-laundering arms of these banks red-flag suspicious accounts. They report suspicious activity to FinTRAC which notifies law enforcement.
“The banks look at financial transactions they suspect are related to human trafficking,” said Tramontozzi. “They look at where funds are being paid. So, if it is for massage parlours or if they get a certain person that’s buying an enormous amount of hotel rooms and then they see that those people are associated to girls who are now purchasing things from Shoppers Drug Mart that are relevant to the sex trade, they act by preparing a suspicious transaction report and sending it to FinTRAC which do their investigation and create a report for police.
“That is what we act upon. It helps us to identify pimps, victims, how they do business and where they do business. We are getting those reports almost daily from FinTRAC and we are much better prepared when we investigate these crimes in Toronto.”
In the last two years, Tramontozzi has made numerous presentations, delivered remarks before justice committees, attended meetings and group sessions, and worked tirelessly to raise awareness and ensure this crime is combated and eradicated in the city and beyond.
He said the biggest way to hurt pimps is to take their money.
“You take their money, you take their status,” said Tramontozzi, who joined the Service 30 years ago.
He has been working in Sex Crimes for the last five years.
“Working in this unit has been my most rewarding experience as a law enforcement officer,” said Tramontozzi. “Most of the victims are very young females and I have a 16-year-old daughter at the age where she could get recruited. If we can do anything to help these girls not get into the game, or to get out, that’s tremendous work on our part.”
Chief Mark Saunders heaped lavish praise on the award recipients.
“I wish every day was like this,” he said. “This is a testament to the city of Toronto. What makes the city good are the first-responders: police, fire and paramedics. What makes the city great are the citizens we serve. It is amazing what happens when humanity kicks in.”
TPSB Acting Chair Jim Hart noted the honourees rose to the challenge and did what was necessary to prevent a death or crime or to support a good cause.
“Through their quick-thinking, their keen observations, their compassion and their persistence, they helped to capture suspects, solve crimes, assist people in need and even save lives,” he said.”
Hart said the award recipients are true heroes.
“Extraordinary actions like yours play a critical role in building safe neighbourhoods and communities,” he added. “Selfless and compassionate actions of individuals, like you, contribute beyond measure to making Toronto the best and the safest city in the world.”