When Gagandeep Maan and Yashjeet Dhankar met at Parking Enforcement in 2018, they found they had a few things in common.
Both migrated from India about a decade ago and wanted to pursue a law enforcement career.
“This has always being my passion,” said Dhankar, who was among 83 Special Constables presented with their badges on July 25 at the Toronto Police College. “I enjoyed the nine months I was with Parking Enforcement and I am now looking forward to this new chapter.”
She will be assigned to 42 Division.
Maan, who went to 31 Division, was a merchandise controller and security officer for four years before joining the Service.
“It was my security manager who advised me to apply to Parking Enforcement which I did,” she said. “I have always wanted to be part of law enforcement and I am happy to be a Special Constable.
They were among 33 District Special Constables (DSC) who graduated.
The DSC position was created to supplement and help create capacity for frontline officer by taking on tasks that would otherwise be assigned to police officers such as guarding a crime scene or canvassing for information. The training, which lasted 12 weeks, included instruction on crime scene management and de-escalation techniques.
“The physical training part was pretty intense,” said DSC valedictorian Jeffrey Whalen.
He’s following in the footsteps of his grandfather who was a police officer with Niagara Regional Police.
“I have always wanted to a give back to the community,” said Whalen. “For me, Toronto is where I want to be because its police service is the largest municipal one in Canada and the city is very diverse.”
Ronald and Joanne VandenBrink were on hand to see their son, Adam, fulfil his dream of being a law enforcement officer.
“I am truly proud because this is something he really wanted to do,” said his dad. “I am happy that his dream has come to fruition.”
Mom echoed similar sentiments.
“Watching him growing up as a child with a goal and seeing him get closer it makes me so happy,” she added.
Adam VanderBrink joined 28 Booking Officers who received their badges from Chief Mark Saunders.
“The training was very professional and I encountered top class instructors on this journey,” he said. “My aim is to become a uniformed officer.”
Booking Officers process prisoners at police stations, taking photos, fingerprints and managing the cells.
S/Sgt. Jeff Alderdice is delighted to have his wife of five years join the Service.
Tara Reda-Alderdice was among 21 Court Officers sworn in.
“I have always supported her and I am just glad to see her make it here,” said Alderdice, who is in his 24th year with the Service.
Reda-Alderdice spent 22 years as an executive assistant before making the move to work for the same organization as her husband.
“I just grew a bit tired of sitting at a desk doing administrative work,” the class valedictorian said.
Court officers are responsible for transporting over 400 prisoners who attend court daily in 272 courtrooms across the city. They will also ensure the safe management of about 60,000 citizens appearing in in-custody annually.
Chief Saunders welcomed the Special Constables to the police family, telling them they are now part of an organization that has a tremendous reputation and legacy.
He, however, reminded them there will be hurdles along the way.
“This work is not easy, especially in today’s environment,” said Saunders. “You will be challenged each and every day, but you put your hands up for this because we all know there’s no greater calling than that to serve another. Your lived experiences brought you here to say, ‘Yes, I want to be part of this journey, part of this challenge and I have the capacity when I connect with individuals to help make their day, their moment a better place in that time’. You chose to do that. It takes a special person to do that which is why I am so proud when I see all these faces here. Than you for making that choice.”
Saunders told the graduates they can count on the support of Service members as they make the transition.
“There are a lot of people here who will expect a lot from you, but if you follow your training and you utilize your morale compass, you will succeed,” he added. “But it’s not about the training alone. It is about every member of the Service that’s here that has a lived experience in law enforcement that will help you become the best of what you are.”
Toronto Police Services Board member Andy Pringle told the new recruits they are now part of an organization that views as paramount the relationship between its members and the communities that Toronto Police serve.
“As a group, you are well equipped to build this relationship,” he said. “You are women and men from a variety of ethnic, cultural, language, career and educational backgrounds… You will be our ambassadors and liaisons within the community and this in itself is a really critical role today as we talk about the modernization task force and policing within our communities as the centrepiece of everything we are doing. Take satisfaction in knowing that your role is critical.”
Several awards were presented at the graduation ceremony.
Robert Marchant was the Booking Officer class valedictorian, Alex Loosemore (Booking Officer) and Hansoor Mansoor were the Leadership Award winners, Ryan Gould (Court Officer) won the award for the participant with the highest academic mark which was 96 per cent, the Most Improved Awards in the areas of fitness and lifestyle went to Monika Kopanicakova (Court Officer) and Ryan Hill (DSC) and the High Performance Award recipients were Ryan Brown (Court Officer) and Doyeon Kim (DSC).
For more information on careers with the Toronto Police Service visit tps.on.ca/careers