Toronto Police’s longest serving Black female uniformed officer retires

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 9:08 a.m. July 26, 2021

After 35 years on the job, Staff Sergeant Janine Crowley has retired as Toronto Police Service’s longest serving Black female uniformed officer.

Woman in police uniform smiling, standing inside a gymnasium hall
Staff Sergeant Janine Crowley

She signed off on June 30.

“I had the date in mind, but submitting the paperwork was the hardest part for me,” said Crowley. “It took about six months, but once I made up my mind to go ahead with that process, there was no turning back.”

In Grade 13 at Clarkson Secondary School, she went on a ride-along with a cousin.

Kim Duncan-LeCoure spent 31 years with Halton Regional Police and was an Ontario Police College Chief Instructor for 46 months.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Crowley. “A few weeks later, a girl in my class was going to Toronto to apply to be a cadet and I accompanied her.”

She also submitted an application to Peel Regional Police Service.

“I was accepted by both Services at around the same time, but I chose Toronto because I didn’t want to police in Mississauga where I grew up. In Toronto, I figured I wouldn’t run into too many people I know.”

Initially, Crowley’s mom didn’t support the decision.

“With our father, he told us to give 100 per cent in whatever we chose to do and give it our best,” she said. “When recruiters came to do a home visit, she left the house. Dad and my older sister stayed.”

Stanley Crowley, a basketball referee who was inducted into the Ontario Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, died in February 2020 at age 92.

Being Black and female, Crowley knew there would be challenges.

Terry James, who retired 11 years ago after three decades on the job, was the only Black female officer with the Service when she joined in 1986.

“Growing up in a predominantly White neighbourhood, I didn’t have any racial issues,” said Crowley. “I started with Traffic Service and things were okay. The hardest part was when I went from Traffic to 22 Division. During parade, the Sergeant used the ‘n' word while reading the notes of events that took place the night before. He would look at me and say, ‘You are not one of them’. On another occasion, I went out with another officer as my partner and we didn’t last five minutes. I told him to take me back to the station.”

After nearly a decade at 22 Division, Crowley was assigned to Intelligence Service’s Organized Crime Unit headed by retired Supt. David McLeod.

He was an Inspector at the time.

“It was fun working with that unit as it was the first time I was surrounded by quite a few Black officers,” she said. “I learnt a lot from them.”

The late Carl Moore, who was a member of the specialized unit, encouraged Crowley to apply to be a Sergeant.

“He was retiring because of illness and the last thing he said to me was you should go for it,” she recalled. “Up to that time, I had no intention of becoming a Sergeant as I was enjoying being a Constable.  It was only because of him that I wrote the exam.”

Promoted on Christmas Eve 2001, Crowley worked briefly in the Mobile Unit before being transferred to 13 Division. Two years later, she returned to the Intelligence Unit to work on wiretaps with retired officer Kim Gross.

In 2012, she was assigned to Professional Standards before her last stop at Toronto Police College.

Since December 2018, she was the Staff Sergeant in charge of the Community Policing section thatis responsible for the delivery of basic training to all police recruits from the moment the recruit is hired as a cadet-in-training until they are assigned to work in the field as a fully trained and sworn police constable. In addition to basic recruit training, this section is responsible for coach officer, lateral entry officer and auxiliary police officer recruit training.

Group of men and women, wearing face masks, standing in a gymnasium hall
New recruits Joshua Rigg and Marlene Ayoub presented a bouquet of flowers and a gift card to Crowley on behalf of the last class that graduated on July 5

The high esteem in which new recruits hold Crowley was evident on her last day on the job.

Constables Joshua Rigg and Marlene Ayoub presented a bouquet and gift cards to Crowley on behalf of the last class that graduated on July 5.

“Without your leadership, guidance and support as well as an incredible team of handpicked staff, we wouldn’t have been able to come this far over these past seven months,” Ayoub said. “During this time, you watched us go from complete strangers to working alongside one another in dynamic scenarios. You have seen our strengths and weaknesses and you have utilized that to create a better training program so that we could become our absolute best.”

The last three years, said Crowley, were the highpoint of her career.

“The recruits come in here raw and you see them grow and mature,” Crowley said. “That gave me a lot of satisfaction.”

Superintendent Kim O’Toole said Crawley is irreplaceable.

“She has impacted the lives of so many recruits that have gone on to do amazing and incredible things in their career,” the Toronto Police College Unit Commander said. “We, as the management team, are extremely grateful for your dedication, undying optimism and being able to see the vision that a recruit class presents. You see that in their dress uniforms and at a graduation. You have this unique ability to see people in what they will become after all the training we provide them.”

Crowley has a simple message for young women considering a career a policing.

“In any career, you will face some challenges,” she pointed out. “I have enjoyed this job immensely. If this is a dream, I encourage them to pursue it as there are so many opportunities. Of course, the standard for you might be a bit higher because you are female. If you want it, believe in yourself, go and get it, always do the right things and never compromise your integrity. You can control your reputation and integrity. When you lose that, you lose everything.”

In retirement, Crowley plans to travel, ski and return to Humber College to complete the Bachelor of Applied Science in Justice Studies program.

“I will start in the fall and do that part-time,” the Police Foundations graduate said. “I am really looking forward to that as I have been so busy and never found the time to get my degree. I can focus on that and on me now.”

TPS crest watermark