The care and kindness displayed by a 14 Division officer inspired Staff Superintendent Mario Di Tommaso to join the Toronto Police Service (TPS) in 1980.
“When I was 10 years old, my bike was stolen and the investigating officer was so good to me,” he recalled. “That policeman drove me around the neighbourhood looking for the bicycle. He truly cared and that crystallized for me how important it was to treat community members well.”
After a brief stint at Ryerson, Di Tommaso joined the Service and the spent the first nine years at 14 Division where he also later served as unit commander for 27 months.
The senior officer retired on October 19 after serving the last five years as head of Central and West Field Command consisting of nine divisions.
At a farewell ceremony, Di Tommaso conveyed how much he was blessed to be part of the police family for almost four decades.
“I have always maintained that I have two families,” he said. “I have learned so much from so many people, many of whom are in this room today. Your friendships, loyalty and dedication have been my inspiration that drives me to continue serving our public and communities.”
Di Tommaso thanked everyone he has worked with over the years for their loyal support and encouraged leaders to continue to support officers who are working on the ground to keep the city safe.
“That is the true reason we are all here and that’s to ensure that our men and women have all that they need to discharge their duties safely and with integrity,” he pointed out. “We must also ensure we develop new leaders to take the reigns as we all slowly depart. Developing the next level of leaders has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me over these years and I am confident we are all in good hands.
“We have exceptional men and women here at the TPS and that is why today is so difficult for me. I am proud to have served and my promise to you all here today is that I will continue day and night to support all of you at the provincial level as you work hard with pride and integrity to keep our city safe.”
I am proud to have served and my promise to you all here today is that I will continue day and night to support all of you at the provincial level as you work hard with pride and integrity to keep our city safe
After just 48 hours of retirement from the Service, Di Tommaso was back at work as the province’s Deputy Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
“After five years in charge of Central Field Command, I was looking for a little bit of a change,” he said. “When this opportunity came by, I jumped on it. I think I am ready, I think I have an awful lot more to give and I think I have all the skills, knowledge and abilities to perform that role effectively.”
Chief Mark Saunders and Di Tommaso worked together in Drug and Homicide Squads.
“This guy is truly a champion when it comes to policing,” he said. “He has hit all portfolios of this organization and done an exceptional job in every position that he took.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle also paid tribute to Di Tommaso.
“This Service has been so great because of the men and women that have contributed to it and led it,” he said. “You have been one of those for a long period of time and now you are going to do it for the province as a whole.”
Di Tommaso’s wife Zoe and children Caterina and John attended the farewell ceremony and accompanied the retired officer as he was piped out of police headquarters.