A Toronto police officer is at the head of the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement (OWLE).
Inspector Kim O’Toole replaced Peel Regional Police senior officer Lisa Hewison last December.
An OWLE member for nearly two decades, the Police College senior officer plans to build on the platform laid by her predecessor.
“I will continue her work and vision,” said O’Toole, who previously served as the organization’s Professional Development Officer. “Lisa worked really hard to increase awareness and our membership.”
The organization has almost 300 members. They include Toronto Transit Commission Special Constables, Metrolinx Fare Inspectors and Ministry of Natural Resources enforcement officers. She is the second Toronto officer to lead the organization following Sgt. Lisa Hodges.
Founded in 1997 and affiliated to the International Association of Women Police, OWLE’s signature event is its annual fundraising awards banquet on the first Friday in May.
This year’s gala takes place on May 3 at the Mississauga Grand Banquet Hall, 35 Brunel Rd. in Mississauga.
Over 600 people are expected to attend.
“Although our membership number is small and we are still growing, our reach is quite considerable,” said O’Toole. “I am really proud of our organization and its ability to reach women in law enforcement across Ontario.”
OWLE’s other major event is its Training Day to be held on November 20 at the Mississauga Banquet Centre.
The list of presenters include Ottawa Police Inspector Isobel Granger who, a year ago, became Ottawa’s first Black female senior officer, retired Seattle Police Department Chief Kathleen O’Toole (no relation to Kim), who was the Boston Police Department first female Police Commissioner, and Sandy Perron, who was Canada’s first female Infantry officer.
“Last year, we sold out in record time,” said O’Toole. “We are anticipating the same this year with about 300 participants attending. This presents an amazing opportunity for networking, mentoring and support.”
A court officer for a year, O’Toole became a uniformed member in the mid-90s.
Her father, Vaughan O’Toole, was a TPS member for 37-and-a-half years before retiring just under two decades ago.
“He was with the Homicide Unit during my adolescent years and policing was all that I wanted to do,” she said. “Since I was a little girl, that was my dream job.”
In her 24th year on the job, O’Toole – who started her career at 55 Division – has served in many capacities, including with Sex Crimes and Homicide.
Six years ago, she was seconded to the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan. As a rule of law expert, she worked directly with the Afghan National Police, the Attorney General Office and other international partners, including Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan.
In 2014, she was awarded the Non-Article NATO Medal and the EUPOL Medal for her stellar service in Afghanistan.
O’Toole holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Carleton University and a Master of Criminal Justice from Boston University. She is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Portsmouth Criminal Justice program.
Since 2007, O’Toole has been an adjunct professor at the University of Guelph-Humber teaching police & society, crime & criminal justice, criminological theory, investigative techniques, gender issues and advanced community policing courses.
Prior to being promoted to the senior rank, she was a staff sergeant in the Legal Services Unit for two years.