Sun legacy in Service animals

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 1:52 p.m. July 8, 2019
Updated: 9:48 a.m. July 12, 2019

Late Toronto Police officer Sam Sun was very fond of animals, particularly dogs.

A woman with three men in TPS uniform with two dogs and a horse
Cheryl Sun with Sgt. Dave Dickinson and police dog Sunny, Constable Joel Houston atop Picard, and Constable Justin Yelle with police dog Sidney

To satisfy his request for one at a young age, his mom bought a little porcelain dog statue that he cherished until he got his own dogs as an adult.

After Sun’s death last November, officers at 42 Division, where he was assigned for nearly a year, and 54 Division, where he spent his first 11 years on the job, started a fund to buy an animal in his name.

“Sam was a huge animal lover and his passion for dogs is well known, so we decided that we were going to use the donations to buy a dog,” said Sgt. Philip Lee, of 42 Division ‘D’ Platoon. “The response from officers throughout the Service was so overwhelming that we had enough money to buy two dogs and a horse.”

Sunny, named after Sun, graduated on July 5.

The officer’s widow – Cheryl – along with family members joined Chief Mark Saunders and other Service members at the graduation ceremony at Police Dog Services.

“We are a family through thick and thin and we are always there to support each other,” said Saunders. “This is an opportunity to find a positive out of a bad situation.”

Sun’s widow thanked the Service for the support over the past few months and the fitting tribute to her husband.

“By so much of you showing up here today, it shows me how much Sam was loved,” she said. “I can’t tell you how much that means to me. This is more than I could have asked for and I know Sam would be so proud. I know he’s smiling today.”

I can’t tell you how much that means to me. This is more than I could have asked for and I know Sam would be so proud

Several members of the 42 Division ‘D’ platoon attended the ceremony.

“Sam was well liked and this is a fitting tribute to him,” said Lee. “While he was at 54, he used to come to 42 to assist us as we required his language skills. In addition to English, he spoke Mandarin and Cantonese. We miss him every day. For us, today’s event is part of the healing process and we also want to show his wife that we will continue to support her and the rest of his family.”

Const. Kirk Lennon, of the 55 Division, was in the same graduating class with Sun in 2006.

They both started their policing career at 54 Division the following year and were partners for two years.

“Sam was just one of the most amazing partners anyone could ever have,” he said. “He was entertaining, the perfect team player and extremely passionate about the job and people. I miss him a lot.”

Sunny is a two-year German shepherd that was located in the Czech Republic.

“He is just an amazing dog with great traits and personality, which is what we need,” said Sgt. Dave Dickinson, who has been working with the general purpose dog since March. “He’s a high-drive dog who always want to hunt and search for prey.”

A Service member since 2001, Dickinson was a Homicide investigator for five years before joining Police Dog Services.

“I am an animal lover who has had dogs my entire life,” he said. “It is important to change things up and keep fresh.”

Sidney is a 14-month-old Belgian Malinois that was born in New Jersey. The explosive detection dog joined the Service in February.

“This is a very high-driven dog that loves to work,” said her handler, Const. Justin Yelle. “She has been on the road since May and we have done some protection sweeps. The Service is lucky to have a dog like Sidney helping to keep the city safe.”

A man in TPS uniform with a German Shepherd
Sgt. Dave Dickinson releases Sunny during a skills demonstration at Police Dog Services
A man in police uniform with a dog on a leash
Constable Justin Yelle with explosives detection dog Sidney

Picard, who was also purchased through the Sun donation, joins the Toronto Police Mounted Unit established in 1866 to provide crowd control.

The three-year-old Clydesdale, which was acquired from a Listowell farm, joined the Service in March.

“I rode him on the farm and made the choice to bring him to our Service,” said Const. Joel Houston. “He’s exactly what we are looking for in a police horse in that he’s very, calm, kind, tender and even snugly. But above all, he’s brave and willing to do whatever is asked of him. In our in-house competition this year, he scored 89 out of a 100 which is almost unheard of with a new mount.”

So impressed has the Mounted Unit being with Picard that he’s among four horses selected to represent the Service at the the annual North American Police Equestrian Championship in Maryland on October 12 and 13.

A group of people holding framed photos
Service members made presentations to Cheryl Sun
TPS crest watermark