Const. Dale Swift embodies the concept of community policing.
Raised in the Chester Le community where he was investigated and arrested by police, he keenly observed some of the officers who were always in his neighbourhood engaging residents.
“As the cops came in and out, I watched relationships between them and the community grow and develop and that made an impression on me,” said Swift, who joined the Service a decade ago.
The 33 Division officer was the recipient of the Robert Qualtrough Memorial Award presented at the Service’s awards ceremony on September 11 at police headquarters.
Qualtrough, who served with distinction and honour during his 34 years with the Service, died in October 2014.
Established three years ago, the award is presented annually to Service and community members who have demonstrated excellence and leadership through their participation in an innovative and effective police-community partnership initiative.
“I know that Mr. Qualtrough was highly regarded by his peers and community partners,” said Swift, whose wife of 10 years, Beth, and their eight-year-old son, Tristen, attended the ceremony. “So to be honoured with an award bearing his name is quite humbling and significant.”
With his lived experience growing up in Toronto Community Housing and knowing some of the challenges that young people face in those communities, Swift is committed to helping youths through leadership conferences and workshops on gun violence.
He also created a youth mental health group, BeYouTH, and uses social media to showcase the positive work he’s doing.
“If you are not connected and committed to your community, your job as a police officer is that much more challenging,” Swift said. “The vast majority of people in communities really want to see us and engage with us and are willing to help. There are many officers in the Service who are doing really good work in the community, but they don’t get the recognition. As much as I am honoured to be the recipient of this award, it also says a lot of about Toronto Police that we are trying to get it right and we have officers who are willing to go above and beyond while on and off duty.”
There are many officers in the Service who are doing really good work in the community, but they don’t get the recognition. As much as I am honoured to be the recipient of this award, it also says a lot of about Toronto Police that we are trying to get it right and we have officers who are willing to go above and beyond while on and off duty
Inspector James MacKrell nominated Swift for the award.
“This award is basically for making partnerships to help communities through communities,” he said. “Dale embodies that. He doesn’t go out looking to make connections with others. They now come to do that with him. He has brought all the resources he has to help him improve the neighbourhood he polices.”
Qualtrough’s family, including younger brother Jim who was also a Toronto police officer, attended the awards ceremony.
Sgt. August Bonomo was presented with the Mental Health Excellence Award created in 2016.
“This award reflects the high priority that the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) places on this critical area,” said Chair Andy Pringle. “Tonight’s recipient of this award is especially deserving as he’s an officer who plays a key role in the Service’s excellent Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) that’s continuously working to enhance the program to better meet the needs of the community.”
Assigned to the Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit MCIT coordinator in 2012, Bonomo has created flourishing partnerships with hospital directors, mental health legal experts, educators and practitioners, providing direct services.
“This award is significant because it represents the efforts that we as a Service are focussing towards recognizing that mental health is as critical as physical health,” said Bonomo.
Last year, he was the driving force to establish a joint hospital and police committee that allows for the development of memorandums of understanding and protocols for communication, defining roles and responsibilities and sharing of information while respecting privacy laws.
“August has been a fantastic working partner and someone who is willing to challenge the health care system where needed,” said MCIT Project Manager Leah Dunbar, who nominated Bonomo for the award.
The Child & Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC) was presented with the Chief of Police Excellence Award that acknowledges exceptional achievement through dedication, persistence or assistance to the public.
Operational since October 2013, the CYAC has provided a centralized intake of cases and improved communication between partners through case conferences and peer reviews.
With the creation of the agency, abused children no longer have to travel around the city to get the help and services they require. With the police, the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, the Safe-T Program, the Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect Program and Boost Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention agency in the same building, abused youth can speedily get the assistance they need from social services and police.
The things that they have done, the moments that they have put themselves into, adhering to their training and understanding the importance of connecting with compassion throughout the moments and doing the things because they were the right things to do at those moments are what we are celebrating
Since its inception up until March 31, 2019, CYAC officers have investigated 3,740 occurrences. A total of 649 cases resulted in charges being laid.
“This team award is fitting for the many officers who made this project happen,” said D/Sgt. Greg Payne who, with Detectives Barb Douglas and Lori Haggett, worked through the logistical issues to implement the CYAC for the Service. “It takes a special officer to maintain all the relationships we have with our stakeholders.”
While noting that Service members do amazing things daily to enhance the quality of living in the city, Chief Mark Saunders, said applauding officers and civilians that went above and beyond the call of duty shouldn’t be taken for granted
“The things that they have done, the moments that they have put themselves into, adhering to their training and understanding the importance of connecting with compassion throughout the moments and doing the things because they were the right things to do at those moments are what we are celebrating,” he said. “Whenever I see smiling faces, it makes me happy because all of the recipients , they know, it is a special night for them whenever they see their families, friends and loved ones here that are proud of them because that’s the greatest reward.”
Saunders thanked the senior officers for joining him to recognize the members’ accomplishments.
“We understand the importance of the work that’s done each and every day and we do our best to support the men and women as we continue to try to work to try to modernize this agency,” added Saunders.
Pringle said the Service members deserve exceptional praise for their selfless acts of bravery and excellence in the performance of their duties.
“For our Board, it is important to recognize individuals such as those we are celebrating today whose dedication and heroism make our city a better place,” he said. “This continues to be a time of important and ongoing transformation for our Service as we work together in partnership with our community to implement a comprehensive and robust action plan with a common commitment to excellence. And it is indeed excellence that we celebrate today.”
Pringle said the members in uniform that are honoured far exceeded their already demanding day-to-day activites.
“They are living examples of our Service’s core values,” he added. “Doing their jobs in neighbourhoods across Toronto, they embody these core values in all that they do and they exemplify excellence in policing.”
A total of six civilian members were also recognized.
Abdullah Yousufi and Gregory Schofield of Forensic Identification Services, Andria Caruso and Emma Gibbons of Communications Services and Amelia Charitar and Margaret Bond of Sex Crimes and Intelligence Services respectively were the honourees.
“You have given us much reason to be proud,” said Pringle. “Your actions inspire each one of us to strive for new heights of professionalism and service to the community.”
Chief of Police Letter of Recognition Awards were also presented to Tom Schreiter and Karen Simone who were nominated by the Homicide unit. The recognition is granted to members of outside agencies for excellence in the performance of duty, community policing initiatives or innovations that enhance the image of the Service’s operations.