Kristine Hunter is following the policing footsteps of her late father and brothers-in-law.
Robert Hunter, a uniformed member for many years before retiring, succumbed to cancer in 2011 while Omar and Mulham Tayara are serving Toronto police officers.
“Omar was the one that encouraged me to join the Service, pointing out that there are civilian opportunities that I can pursue,” said Hunter, who was the only female graduate. “I went online, saw the posting for parking enforcement officers and figured it would be a great opportunity for me.”
The married mother of two children was an Early Childhood Educator for almost two decades before switching careers.
“I loved my job working with children, but I just felt like it was time for a change,” Hunter said.
While on the Toronto Police website a few months ago, Chris Hoskins saw the advertisement for parking enforcement officers, read the requirements and decided he would apply.
“I figured I will give it a go and here I am,” said Hoskins, who was the oldest graduate at age 56.
Born and raised in the United Kingdom, he was a print and television journalist before moving to Canada with his wife in 2005. They owned a bed and breakfast in British Columbia.
“We were there for about 10 years before becoming bored,” said Hoskins. “We wanted to be in a big city and that’s why we came to Toronto.”
He was a Blue Jays and Maple Leafs usher for the about four years.
“During that time, I met many officers who were assigned to the games and I engaged them in conversation, trying to get an idea about their side of life,” he said. “Now, I am part of Toronto Police Service, I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Alexander Dring McDonald was voted the Class Valedictorian by his peers while Rogelio Dimayuga won the Highest Academic Achievement Award with a perfect score of 100.
Dimayuga is using the opportunity as a stepping stone to become a uniformed officer. He was also a Correctional Officer for almost a year and an Auxiliary member with 32 Division for nearly two years.
“I am trying to get as much experience as I can in the field so I can be ready when I get that opportunity to be a police officer,” said the 25-year-old.
In welcoming the 26 new members, Deputy Chief Peter Yuen told them they are joining a strong and proud organization that’s rich in diversity and depth.
“We are excited to have you on our team,” he said. “You have worked hard over the past six weeks of in-class training with your team of trainers. You have also had some practical training in the field and I know that you will continue to grow and flourish with the guidance and support of your colleagues and supervisors as you now take your first official steps onto the streets of Toronto.”
Yuen reminded the group that their diverse and impressive backgrounds reflect the communities they will serve.
“Your background experiences and interests have helped mould you into the people you are and have brought you to where you sit today,” he noted. “Take these experiences with you as you embark upon your career and go into our local communities where you will be valued for your ability to give guidance, problem-solve and make things better.
“You will bring your knowledge, your experience and your passion to do your part to understand and meet the complex needs of our beautiful city. You will play an important role in assisting the Toronto Police Service in our commitment and progression in modernization and continuing to be a world-class leading organization.”
While their principle role is to ensure the orderly flow of traffic, Parking Enforcement Unit members provide operational support to the Service when they recover a stolen vehicle, conduct language interpretation, attend a community policing initiative event or assist with emergency support crime management.
“You will work towards crime prevention by being a uniform presence as the eyes and ears on the street,” added Yuen. “We thank you for standing up to take these important tasks and for your commitment to our city and its communities. This is an exciting time in your lives and you have chosen an honourable profession in which you will work to keep Toronto moving, including not only residents but also the massive volume of commuters, tourists and other people who come in and out of our city on a daily basis.”
Deputy Chief Barbara McLean, Chief Administrative Officer Tony Veneziano, Supt. Scott Baptist and Toronto Police Services Board Chair Andy Pringle attended the graduation.
Pringle said the Board recognizes the hugely important role that parking enforcement officers play in the city.
“Tasked with maintaining road safety by monitoring and enforcing parking bylaws on our streets, you also play a critical role in helping Torontonians live, work and play on a daily basis, ensuring that parking spaces are used appropriately and for proper purposes,” he said. “As you do your jobs interacting with members of the public each and every day, you also act as important ambassadors for our Service. Be proud of the organization you represent as you demonstrate your professionalism, integrity and work ethic in all that you do.”
With an age range from 22 to 56, more than half of the graduating class speak more than one language and 75 per cent have completed post-secondary education.
“You bring a wide range of knowledge and experience,” Pringle told the graduates. “We are lucky to have each one of you for your talents, your skills and your insights. You truly bring the community into the Service.”
The recruits are being assigned to Parking East, West and Central.
“Some are going to be on foot patrol while others are going to be on bicycles,” said trainer Keith “Chippy” Chipman.
The other trainers are Pamela Carswell and Lori Young while the Section Head is Joanne Catania.
Another class begins training on December 30.
For more information on joining the Toronto Police Service, visit tps.on.ca/careers