Detective Constable Stuart Parsons has spent most of his 32-year policing career with Toronto Police Traffic Services making our roads safer and investigating collisions and criminal acts on our streets.
As his outstanding policing career winds down, he was honoured with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police’s (OACP) Lifetime Achievement in Traffic Safety Award.
Parsons, who joined Traffic Services Investigation Office in 2005, retires later this year.
Traffic Services Unit Commander Supt. Scott Baptist, who made the nomination, said Parsons is an exceptional investigator with a relentless drive for holding those responsible for traffic offences accountable for their actions.
“He has case-managed some of the most serious cases we have dealt with and he’s our go-to expert on big investigations,” said Baptist. “As a coach officer and mentor, he excels at training frontline officers through thoroughly investigative complex cases from start to finish, passing on a lifetime of knowledge, experience and service to the next generation.
“His experience, knowledge, ability and comforting demeanor have proven irreplaceable when dealing with highly traumatic scenes, victims and their families.”
Starting in 1988 as a Cadet for six months issuing parking tickets, Parsons spent less than two years at 54 Division before joining Traffic Services.
In his role in the Investigation Office, he’s responsible for investigating Fail to Remain Collisions, Life Threatening and Fatal Collisions.
“I am dealing with the biggest and worst cases from impaired driving causing death to failing to remain after a fatality,” Parsons said. “It’s my job to hold those responsible accountable for their actions, I also work with victims and their families and I always promise them that I would do my best for them.”
Of the hundreds of cases he has handled, one stands out.
On June 29, 2018, Martin Hines – driving under the influence of marijuana and cocaine – was involved in three separate vehicular collisions that resulted in two deaths.
He pled guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death, two counts of criminal negligence causing death, a count of impaired driving causing bodily harm, a count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and two counts of robbery.
The fatalities occurred in Brampton and Toronto.
“That was a multi-jurisdictional case in which I was the lead investigator,” said Parsons. “I had an Excel spread sheet as there were over 200 witnesses to keep track of because there were seven different scenes. It was the most complex case I have worked on and the reason it’s so memorable is that I got a good outcome and Hines received the second highest penalty in Canadian history.”
He was sentenced to nine years.
Marco Muzzo, who killed three children and their grandfather in March 2016, received a 10-year sentence.
Toronto Police won four of the eight awards that recognize excellence in policing and policing initiatives in Ontario.
Chief Ramer presented the awards to the winners at police headquarters on June 17.
“I am proud they have been acknowledged for their outstanding work,” he said. “When you look at it, we are been compared with officers from around the province. The fact that we have been able to win four of the awards says a lot about the great people we have and the fantastic things they are capable of doing.”
The Service’s Full Body Scanner (FBS) project team was recognized with the Innovation in Information Technology Award presented to a police agency that leverages technology to develop and introduce significant change that proves to be a game-changer for their organization and/or the policing community.
The Service created the FBS pilot in November 2017.
Led by Supt. Kim O’Toole with the support of Supt. Lisa Crooker and S/Sgt. Stefan Prentice, the project aimed to reduce the number of strip searches of persons in police custody while enhancing the safety of police facilities by detecting contraband items.
Using low-dose x-rays to scan a person, the FBS technology can detect metallic, non-metallic and organic material that may be hidden by clothing or inside a person.
“We are committed to modern policing and using innovative solutions to ensure those in our custody are treated with dignity while keeping our members safe,” said Chief James Ramer.
TPS was the first global police agency to test a FBS in the context of policing where persons in custody are only detained temporarily.
To build a successful pilot that could withstand extensive scrutiny, the project team collaborated with the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Information Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, the Special Investigations Unit, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the TPS Legal Service, Information Technology Service and Strategy Units.
During the pilot, a total of 594 searches were authorized of which 52 per cent were diverted to FBS in lieu of strip searches. Members reported less stress and increased confidence in the detection of 56% for drugs and 77% for weapons.
Since the pilot’s completion, numerous police agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom have inquired about the project results.
Retired Supt. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins was the recipient of the Excellence in Leadership Award for her outstanding work in leading the Service’s planning and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Commander of the Emergency Management & Public Order Unit in January 2020, she recognized a potential threat in an unknown respiratory disease emerging in Wuhan, China. Uncertain of risks to the Service, she directed her team to monitor the situation, review and update the TPS 2009 Pandemic Plan.
Once a global pandemic was declared, Beaven-Desjardins was appointed the COVID-19 Incident Commander, providing direct advisory support to the Chief of Police and leadership.
Under her command, significant and long-lasting positive changes, including a digital transformation, emerged.
The other changes include the formation of a parallel group of TPS key members, the development of a solid relationship within TPS that resulted in units that had rarely crossed paths engaged in innovative problem solving, the creation of a comprehensive document serving as a foundation for police services to meet the consequences of future public health emergencies, the development of new, extensive remote work capability, the creation of 31 new applications suites, ranging from crime trend tracking to forecasting member sickness rates and the establishment of a COVID-19 Feedback portal.
Const. Matthew Borch was presented the Community Safety & Crime Prevention Award.
The award is presented to an officer who, with their community partners, collaborate to enhance community safety and well-being.
Recognizing a need, the 41 Division officer developed a police-led cooking program that helped young people develop culinary and essential life skills.
Launched in 2019, the Life Skills to Succeed program attracted nearly 100 high school students residing in 41, 42, 11 and 22 Divisions.
During the four-week program, they obtained food handler, Level C First Aid and CPR certifications.
Borch also engaged the youths in conversations around effective communication, emotional intelligence and maintaining healthy relationships and his 41 Neighbourhood Officer team teamed up with the City of Toronto to launch a job fair, enabling the young people to showcase their newly acquired skills.