Focused Dispatcher Wins Communicator of the Year
Megan Colicchio was chosen Toronto Police Communications Operator of the Year for her steady and calm presence in dispatching the police response for a call for intimate partner violence involving a gun.
Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw and Acting Staff Superintendent Shannon Dawson presented the award to Colicchio.
He said the eight-year veteran did an outstanding job during a complex series of calls that required a high level of skill, focus and teamwork.
“Many people call us for help each year because they know you will answer,” said Demkiw. “When you take that call, you don’t know the situation that is awaiting you on the other end. Making quick, accurate and critical decisions under stressful conditions are essential in helping those in need. When Megan took the call in August 2022 to dispatch to an event involving intimate partner violence, she likely didn’t foresee that it would conclude with the arrest of two suspects and the recovery of two firearms. She ensured that the important information was not only communicated, but that it was organized.”
Chief Demkiw said Colicchio was an example of the many people keeping the city safe.
“You, Megan, are the reason why Toronto is one of the best cities in the world. Your steadfast commitment to teamwork helps to build trust and strengthen our relationships with the communities we serve and it sets a shining example for every member of the Toronto Police Service.”
Communications Operators are a vital link between citizens needing urgent assistance and police, fire and medical personnel responding to calls for service. They answer 9-1-1 calls and are required to learn how to ask pertinent questions, give sound advice and process calls relating to a range of offences and incidents. Dispatchers then ensure police officers have all the information they need to keep everyone safe.
Colicchio did just that after a call came in after 11 p.m. on August 12, 2022. A woman had called 9-1-1 advising that her boyfriend, who had allegedly assaulted her a few days earlier was out on bail and may be at her apartment.
Colicchio dispatched 43 Division units who located the victim, who has once again been assaulted, who let them know the man was not alone. Police Dog Services were dispatched and helped set up a perimeter that did not locate the suspects but did find a gun.
A few hours later, Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) called to advised they had responded to an address in the area where the same victim was located – this time the estranged boyfriend was alleged to have been demanding a dog while brandishing a gun.
Colicchio broadcasted the updates and re-engaged with various Toronto police units in search for the man.
As the incident evolved, officers requested Colicchio liaise with DRPS to get further information and the DRPS helicopter was assigned to the call, spotting the vehicle heading back into Toronto.
As the suspect vehicle made its way into Peel Region, Colicchio engaged with the Peel Regional Police Service. Toronto Police 43 Division vehicles attempted to box the vehicle in but the suspect made contact with scout cars and fled. Soon after, the helicopter spotted the vehicle again as it sped eastbound towards Etobicoke.
As the suspect vehicle headed back to Toronto, Colicchio ensured 22 and 11 Divisions were advised.
At 3:56 a.m., the helicopter pilot advised that the suspects had left the vehicle behind and were on foot southbound from Bloor St. They also advised that one of the men had retrieved something from the car trunk.
Colicchio kept up with the updates and reminded units that the suspect might have a firearm.
A perimeter was set up utilizing units from 43, 22 and 11 Divisions and the helicopter continued providing updates.
At 4:09, Police Dog Services advised that one of the suspects was in custody. Six minutes, later, the other suspect was apprehended. A second firearm was recovered in the stolen vehicle console.
Communications Services Manager Kerry-Anne Murray-Bates praised Colicchio for professionally controlling the air during the challenging and dynamic event for an extended length of time.
“Megan was engaged and focused from beginning to end,” said Murray-Bates. “She expertly managed to update CAD entries accurately and responded to units needs. She demonstrated a high level of ability to multi-task and respond to all officers and agencies on her band as well as communicating with her supervisors to ensure both public and officer safety were kept at all times.”
Colicchio said her work can be difficult and stressful but it is rewarding to be a part of a team that comes together to keep people safe.
“However, I started this job to help people as that is what I like to do,” she said. “Winning this award just does not come down to me. I think my entire platoon deserves it too. We show up for work every day making sure everyone is safe.”
Colicchio was inspired to think about a role in policing by her father Staff Sergeant Richard Hemingway who retired from Toronto Police in 2010 after 38 years on the job.