Less than two years after successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation, Adam Hough has transitioned from academia to policing.
The History professor was among 133 recruits who received their badges from Toronto Police Service (TPS) Chief Mark Saunders at a graduation ceremony at Fort York Armoury on October 3.
Hough, whose father is a retired Peterborough officer, applied to Toronto in the last year.
“When I was a teenager, I couldn’t see myself doing anything other than policing,” he said. “I put that on hold to become an academic and now I have accomplished everything I wanted to do in that field, I thought this was the right time for me to transition. I was looking for work that would be useful to a broader community and where I could actively help to effect change.”
Graduating from Fleming College with a Police Foundations certificate, Hough did his first degree at Trent University, his Master’s at the University of Victoria and his doctorate at the University of Arizona and Herzog August Bibliothek in Germany, where he was a Fellow.
He said the seven years spent in graduate school helped him complete the intense 24-week training that includes 12 at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer.
“Graduate school requires a lot of discipline in that you have to learn when to be quiet, when to listen and when to watch,” said Hough, whose dissertation was,The Meckhart Confession: Modern Religion in an Age of Militancy. “Physically, it was very transformative as I hadn’t done a whole lot of physical training in my time in academia. However, I am in a good place right now physically, mentally and emotionally.”
The published scholar, who shared the Honour Student Award with Christopher Frazer for a perfect 100 per cent mark, is assigned to 11 Division.
Like Hough, Derek MacNeil was looking for another challenge after a fulfilling professional cycling career.
The McMaster University Engineering graduate represented Canada in cycling, completed several Ironman triathlons and was the President of Bike Right Canada that provided many unique services, including one-on-one instruction, mobile mechanical services & support and equipment consulting.
“At a crossroads in my life, I was looking for something exciting that involves community,” said the competitive mountain biker and qualified cycling coach who has an interest in robotics. “I just thought there had to be something out there that could provide me with more satisfaction and I think I have found that now I am a police officer.”
Policing was on MacNeil’s radar after he graduated from university in 1993.
“When you get higher education, you want to work in the field of your study because you have spent a lot of money to get there,” said the new 14 Division officer.
Yan Zhou is relishing the opportunity she was denied in Shanghai, China where she was born and raised.
Failing the height requirement to be a police officer, she worked in Human Resources before migrating to the Greater Toronto Area two years ago.
“I was in Human Resources here in Canada, but policing was something I always wanted to do and I was determined to get into that career,” the mother of two children said.
Why does Zhou so desperately want to serve and protect?
“I grew up in a poor neighbourhood in China and I saw the positive effect positive policing could have on a community,” she said. “I always saw myself in uniform interacting with people to make a difference in their lives. That’s the aspect of the job that I find the most appealing.”
Zhou is assigned to 53 Division.
For Vincent Mannella, it’s a new career in law enforcement.
After 11 years as a Canada Border Services Agency officer assigned to Lester B. Pearson International Airport, he started sending in resumes to police services across the Greater Toronto Area.
“I enjoyed my time as a customs officer, but I wanted to be in a frontline position in the community. I like interacting with people and doing something differently daily.”
Mannella’s father-in-law, retired Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Rob Knudsen, joined Saunders in presented him with his badge.
Since age 13, Simone Bailey was on a mission to become a police officer.
“I just knew I wanted to be in a profession where you can change lives and help people,” she said.
One of 20 females in the graduating class, Bailey never took her eyes off her prize job.
Bartending to pay her way through school, she completed the Bachelor of Criminal Justice program at Humber College.
She’s assigned to 31 Division.
“I know that’s a busy and challenging Division, but I think it’s the perfect place for me to start my law enforcement career,” Bailey said.
After learning that he has been assigned to 51 Division, Vlad Egorov drove around the neighbourhood a few times to familiarize himself with his new work environment.
The former marketing communications advisor and Concordia University Journalism graduate, moved from Montreal after Toronto Police hired him.
“The thing that attracted me to Toronto Police was the many different career paths that you can pursue in one organization,” said Egorov. “I have had a good career so far in my young life, but I just thought it was time to do something different.”
After inspecting the new class, Saunders told the graduates they will be defined through their actions and behaviour.
“If you treat everybody with dignity and respect and if you connect with compassion, you will have a fantastic career,” he said. “There is no greater calling than to serve those that are in need and that is what we ask of you to do. That is what we demand of you and that is what you swore you said you would do. The foundation of everything you do is measured on your behaviour, not as an individual anymore, but as a member of this Service. All eyes are watching. We are the most filmed police agency in this country and there’s a reason for that. We lead the way. You are our future leaders.”
The Chief said that citizens respect a trustworthy police service.
“We have to treat everyone with respect and dignity if we are going to get it right,” he added. “If we lose that trust through our actions and behaviours, there will be segments of the community that will feel that we treat them differently. If we do that, then we have lost what we have sworn to do which is to serve everyone fairly. And if there’s a segment of the community that feels that way, not only will we lose their trust, but they may very well work against us.”
Mayor John Tory, who is also a member of the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), said the graduation marks the start of what will be a highly respected career for the recruits in public service.
“But it is a career that requires a great deal of courage, compassion and commitment and one in which you will have extraordinary responsibility to act in a way that builds trust and enhances the trust between the public and the police and also the good reputation of the Toronto Police Service and indeed the City of Toronto itself,” he said.
In welcoming the recruits to the provincial police fold, Ontario’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the graduates should be proud of the hard work they put in to launch their law enforcement careers.
“It took a great deal of effort and ingenuity to get to where you are,” she said. “…As you progress in your career, you will have some challenging days. When that happens, I hope you have done what you have done to date which is to reach out to your colleagues, family and your support and know that we as a province support you in your endeavours and wish you well in your career.”
The new class, whose ages range from 20 to 49, brings extraordinary language skills to the Service with 51 per cent speaking more than one language.
A total of 71 per cent have completed post-secondary education and 36 per cent of the class comprises visible minorities.
TPSB member Ken Jeffers told the graduates that their diversity is a mirror of Toronto.
“And in it lies our strength,” he said. “The quality of our Service is strengthened when the diversity of our great city is reflected in those who police it. Through you, we can reach out to the different communities and neighbourhoods, speak to community members in their home languages, build and strengthen relationships and thus enhance our ever-important partnership with the public.”
As they embark on a new career, Jeffers reminded the recruits that they have an opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact on the city.
“You gain the opportunity to make a personal contribution to the safety and well-being of the community that you have vowed to serve and protect,” he added. “It is important to recognize the enormity of the service you provide. It is you and your colleagues who do the difficult work of keeping us all safe. It is you who have made the decision to devote yourselves so fully to others to serve and protect us all.
“You signed up for something larger than yourself and, for this, we all benefit. So, today and for all the days you do your job with pride, let me say thank you to you and your families. Be proud of yourselves as you perform your valued responsibilities and take satisfaction in knowing that your role is critical in keeping our city safe, thus allowing us to enjoy a quality of life that is envied around the world.”
University of Toronto English graduate Jeanne Lee was the class valedictorian.
She’s the third Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) graduate to become a uniformed TPS member after Thusanth Selvakumar and Mamon Ahmed.
“I was 14 at the time and I spent the summer at 23 Division,” Lee recalled. “That was a life-changing experience for me.”
She was a Security Supervisor for five years at Women’s College Hospital before joining TPS.
“Graduation is a super exciting moment for all of us,” added Lee, who has been assigned to 53 Division. “Most of us didn’t know one another when we started the process, but after six months, we have become close like family.”
The Harry Mayzel Leadership Award was presented to Marko Vukovic, Myles Glazier was the recipient of the Diversity & Inclusion Award and Femi Oluwamuyide received the Military Veterans Drill & Deportment Award.
Eric Butson won the Physical Training Most Improved Award and Brandon Caron was the Physical Training High Performance Award winner.
Each recruiting class organizes a fundraiser for a charitble cause. This class of graduates raised $2,300 for Toronto Youth Development that provides academic, character development and sports programs for young people.