After 21 weeks of intense training and preparation, the newest Toronto Police officers were inspected by Chief Mark Saunders at the Toronto Police College for the final time May 1 before being deployed to serve the public when they are needed most.
“Everyone here who has taught, trained, nurtured, listened and worked with you – they don’t do it because it’s their responsibility, they do it because they have tremendous pride in this organization and what it represents,” Chief Saunders said. “You are going to be our legacy when it comes to law enforcement and the public.”
The Chief said that the new constables have made the conscious choice to help others and the training has equipped you to harness that choice.
“One of the great parts of policing is the satisfaction of helping others,” he said. “It’s now up to you to make the most of your career.”
He encouraged officers to stay grounded in their families and support each other.
A total of 134 constables completed 12 weeks at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer and their nine weeks of training at the Toronto Police College was condensed into five weeks.
“You were asked to do two specific things: do your best and get through this challenging time. And you did it with flying colours in a quick period of time,” said Toronto Police College Supt. Christopher Kirkpatrick, who noted that the full resources of the College staff were focused solely on preparing the police recruits.
“They are fully equipped with the knowledge, skills and abilities to immediately be deployed to Divisions and serve the public,” he said.
The Toronto Police College plans on a formal graduation at a later date.
Ontario Police College Valedictorian Kristopher Bone, and was awarded the Harry Mayzel Leadership Award at the inspection ceremony, spoke to his class about their new outlook to measure their success as a team – both to serve with integrity as well as overcome obstacles put before them.
“Strength is more than just the number on the barbells you are lifting,” the former English teacher said. “The more important strength is the strength of character… Anyone can be strong for themselves that is nothing more than human nature and a gym membership. It’s being strong enough for others who can’t fend for themselves… and you are truly strong.
Torin Offord clinched the Academic Prize with a 100 per cent mark in her training.
Offord, who graduated from McGill University Philosophy & Sociology, is ecstatic to be serving the city she was born and raised in.
“This is a sharp career pivot for me as I was a part of a management team at a restaurant,” the 14 Division officer said. “I was thinking about becoming a lawyer, but it seemed I could do more hands-on work as a police officer.”
While finding the training challenging, Offord enjoyed it.
“I feel I have all the tools to do my job efficiently and effectively,” she said. “It’s disappointing that I am not able to celebrate this monumental moment with family and friends because of COVID-19. On the other hand, it’s gratifying for me to be graduating at this time as I know I will be going straight into the community that needs all the help they could now.”
Migrating from Nigeria eight years ago to pursue higher education, Hugo Agunmadu plunged into volunteerism in the Kitchener area.
It was during his community service and interactions with police officers that he developed an interest in policing.
“Their professionalism stood out,” the father of two children said. “I started to see myself in that role.”
An elementary school teacher in Nigeria, Agunmadu dabbled in human resources after completing a post-graduate certificate at Conestoga College.
“I did some recruitment and found that wasn’t for me,” he noted. “I was looking for a career where I would be out in the community helping people daily.”
Paul Millar feels fortunate to serve in his new role, which began as a volunteer Auxiliary member and later as a District Special Constable (DSC) in 2018. The DSC plays a support role at Divisions, doing everything from canvassing for evidence to protecting a crime scene.
“I enjoy working in the community and I would love to be a Neighbourhood Community Officer during my career,” Millar said.
Jenna Bunce was at a crossroads after completing an Indigenous Studies degree at Trent University and working as a horticulturist for three years.
“I fell in love with the work I was doing and interacting with people, but I was looking for more and I didn’t know what that looked like,” Bunce said.
Last year’s Bunce’s partner, Jessica Tessman, became a Toronto Police uniformed officer.
“I helped her study and got to see her go through the process,” she recalled. “I thought policing was something I would like to do. I made a list of some of the qualities I feel are strong in me and some I demand out of a job so I could feel satisfied and it made sense in my head that policing was that fit.”