Citizens Step In to Keep Their City Safe
Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) bus operator Reanna Bourque was travelling southbound on Progress Ave, near Highway 401 on March 6, 2022 when she noticed a man in distress running in front of live traffic towards the overpass railing.
“He looked quite upset, so I pulled over as he was coming towards my bus,” said the operator, who has been with the TTC for just over a year. “I exited and when I asked him if he was okay. He talked about suicide. From previous training that was a red flag to call 9-1-1, which I did.”
As the man made his way towards the bridge railing, Bourque grabbed ahold of him.
“I was able to pull him down even though he was very distressed,” she said. “When I turned around, three gentlemen who were in the bus along with a passing motorist, helped me to restrain him, which was fantastic. During all of this, I was still on the phone with 9-1-1.”
Police arrived shortly after and transported the man to a local hospital.
Adrian Leckie, Mah’Djamiu Lawal, Lukshikan Vijaykumar and Raguruban Yogarajah, who assisted Bourque, were also presented with Community Member Awards.
Five-year-old Christopher Michel-Almora was the youngest recipient.
On May 21, 2022 during a heavy rainstorm in the city, a massive fire broke out at their home above a commercial property on St. Clair Ave. W.
Michel-Almora, the youngest family member, promptly alerted everyone in the house to the charging flames and they were able to flee the building unharmed.
The blaze destroyed the family’s belongings and left them homeless.
“I am so proud of Christopher,” said his mom. “He is such a brave boy.”
Two Toronto Community Housing Special Constables, who helped a Toronto Police officer apprehend a violent suspect, were presented with Community Member Awards on October 30 at police headquarters.
On New Year’s Eve last year, Andrew Garcia and Tyler Brown were on duty near Parliament St. & Queen St. E when they observed a woman struggling with a police officer.
The woman was being taken into custody after causing a disturbance and stealing from a local pharmacy.
“We were in a car and we saw the officer with a woman who was combative,” recalled Brown. “It appeared there was a struggle between the two and I and my partner went to his assistance. There was a bit of a foot pursuit before we were able to apprehend the suspect without incident.”
Garcia said he and his partner know the female from previous encounters and were able to identify her to police.
Both Garcia and Brown were Correctional officers for two years before becoming Special Constables four years ago. They aspire to be Toronto Police officers.
Chief James Ramer thanked the recipients for contributing to the safety of the city.
“The actions taken by these individuals have helped their fellow citizens and, in some cases, have helped the police solve crimes and apprehend dangerous individuals,” said Ramer.
He acknowledged the Special Constables whose quick actions helped police make arrests and take guns and illegal drugs off the streets and TTC operators who showed compassion for individuals who were hurt or in crisis.
“And it is not just City employees that deserve recognition,” noted Ramer. “We also applaud the many regular citizens who, through their observations and actions, were responsible for protecting children, helping strangers in distress and holding violent offenders to account. Many of you have helped to save a life. All of you have contributed to the safety of our city and your actions reflect our own core values of connecting with compassion and doing the right thing.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair James Hart said the Service – as it continues to modernize and transform, reimagining what community safety means – is looking to the community to partner with in creating a safe Toronto.
“Each of the individuals being honoured today rose to the challenge and did what was necessary to prevent a death or a crime or to support a good cause,” he said. “Through their quick thinking, their keen observations, their compassion and their persistence, they helped to capture suspects, solve crimes, assist people in need and even save lives.”
Hart noted that extraordinary actions like those displayed by the awardees play a critical role in building safe neighbourhoods and communities.
“Selfless and compassionate actions of individuals like you contribute beyond measure to making Toronto the best and safest city in the world,” he added. “This is a city where people care about one another sincerely and deeply.”