Auxiliary Officers are called upon to assist uniformed police in missing persons’ searches.
New Auxiliary Officer Ken Woon-A-Tai was thrust into the experience before he even graduated of what it's like to scour the streets desperately trying to find someone.
On his way home a few weeks ago after defensive tactics training, his sister called to say that her friend’s daughter was missing.
“I was tired and it was about 11 p.m.,” he recalled.
When Woon-A-Tai got home, he picked up his sister and they drove around the city trying to help find the girl.
“It didn’t matter that it was late at night,” the 5th Dan karateka and Ontario Film Review Board film classifier said. “You have to do what is right. I am an uncle and the last thing I would want is for my nieces or nephews to go missing.”
Unable to find the girl after driving around the city for a few hours, Woon-A-Tai turned to some of his Auxiliary classmates.
“It was at that moment that I asked my class for help and I was astounded by the response,” said the class valedictorian at a graduation ceremony for Auxiliary Officers. “Several members spread the word while others shared the information to local community groups. Another member even offered to come out and help despite the late hour. It was at then that I felt lucky to be part of such a great group of selfless people. Not only did I feel that they had my back, but I also felt that they had the backs of the people of Toronto.”
The girl was found a few days later and reunited with her family.
Two classes graduated at the ceremony on April 5 at the Toronto Police College.
Paul Chan was the valedictorian of the other class.
“When I joined this program a year ago, I had two brothers,” he said. “Now, I have 38 brothers and sisters in uniform… I can’t help but think that through the time we have spent together at details and the trust, openness and care we have developed for each other, we have transcended Auxiliary members to become part of a family.”
Deputy Chief Peter Yuen congratulated the graduates and assured them that their volunteer service will help to enrich the lives of their community.
“When you wear the uniform, all eyes will be on you,” he said. “So be courteous and professional at all times.”
Toronto Police Services Board member Ken Jeffers said Auxiliary members are an integral and extremely valued part of the Service.
“We at the Board believe that the community is an extremely important resource for the Toronto Police Service,” he said. “Our volunteers represent the diversity that makes the City of Toronto such a unique place and they assist the Service in many ways.”
Jeffers told the graduates that in making the decision to become Auxiliary officers, they are making a personal contribution to the safety and well-being of their community.
“At the same time, by joining the Auxiliary Service, you are embarking on a tremendous opportunity for career advancement should you choose to pursue policing as a career,” he said. “I understand that, for many of you, that is your ultimate goal and I encourage you to work towards this. There are many people who are ready and willing to support you in achieving this goal. Be proud of yourselves when you are in the community performing your responsibilities. Your role is critical for strengthening our police service. The people of Toronto trust you and rely on you.”
Two special awards are presented at the Auxiliary graduation ceremonies.
Acting Staff Sergeant Waseem Shaikh was the recipient of the James Carnegie Memorial Award.
Presented to an Auxiliary member who demonstrates outstanding leadership skills and proven commitment to the community, the award honours the legacy of the organization’s first Auxiliary officer, whose community involvement was extensive and distinguished for four decades before his passing 20 years ago.
Born and raised in Toronto to immigrants from Pakistan, Shaikh secured a liberal arts & science diploma from Seneca College and an honours degree in health studies from York University before joining the Toronto Transit Commission as a customer service station agent.
An Auxiliary member since 2013 at 31 Division, Shaikh created a community initiative – L.O.C.K.E.R.S -- to work with local schools to help prevent bullying.
“He takes pride in his current role within the Community Partnerships and Engagement Unit (CPEU) to help train new Auxiliary recruit officers on aspects in various topics, including enhanced radio training, Auxiliary Officer scenarios, ceremonial drill and team building through physical fitness and self-confidence,” said Inspector David Rydzik
Shaikh served with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve for five years up until 2011.
“My time in the military allowed me to learn how to function within a team environment, respect and care for others and acquire aspects of good citizenship,” he said.
Auxiliary Staff Sergeant Joyce Kwok was presented with the William Blair Award, created in 2013 by the Divisional Policing Support Unit (DPSU), which is now the CPEU to honour an Auxiliary member who has demonstrated outstanding commitment to community service.
Seeing her father, who was a medical doctor, volunteer with the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade in Hong Kong, inspired her to join the Auxiliary program 16 years ago.
After eight years at 12 Division, she was transferred in September 2017 to the CPEU.
In each graduating class, the student who demonstrates outstanding performance in the various training programs is presented with the Julian Fantino Award for their proficiency. A former TPS Chief, Fantino was a Metro Toronto Police Auxiliary member for five years before joining the Service in 1969.
The winners were Sherpaul Gill and Amanda MacDonald.
Born in British Columbia and raised in Brampton, Gill graduated from the University of Windsor with a degree and Sheridan College with a business administration advance accounting diploma.
He’s a real estate sales representative, part-time security officer and a fundraising coordinator with Peel Crime Stoppers.
Halifax-born MacDonald, who is a customer service and logistics specialist with a car seat manufacturer. The St. Lawrence College for Child & Youth Care 2014 graduate joined the 13 Division Community Police Liaison Committee the following year.
Of the 71 graduates from the two classes, a total of 58 per cent have post-secondary education and 66 per cent speak more than one language.
Auxiliary Superintendent Duncan Walker, who retired in January after 46 years with the Service, attended the ceremony.
The Auxiliary program was established 62 years ago in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.
Over that time, members have provided countless hours of service during the 2010 G20 Summit, papal visits in 1984 and 2002 during World Youth Day celebrations, at the 2003 Rolling Stones concert and at the sites of the 1962 propane plant explosion in Maple, the 1969 natural gas explosion in Malton and the 1979 trail derailment in Mississauga.
Auxiliaries volunteer approximately 70,000 hours of their time annually to assist the Service’s community mobilization initiatives, crime prevention programs, special events, parades, searches for missing persons and emergency call outs.
Click here to learn more, or apply as an Auxiliary Officer