Members honoured for long service
Two month after sending in a job application to the Service, she was hired in December 1982.
“I was absolutely ecstatic and overjoyed,” Pickering, whose first day on the job was January 4, 1983, recalled. “It’s safe to say that’s the best Xmas present I have received and I doubt anything else will beat that.”
Pickering was among 29 Service members who received their 30-year Civilian Long Service Pins on November 5 at the Old Mill.
She spent 11 years as a communications dispatcher and 16 years with telecommunications, before being assigned to the college as an instructor.
“While I would say that working as a dispatcher was the most challenging period of my service, this has been amazing career and I have enjoyed every moment of the ride,” she said. “As a dispatcher, you are dealing with so many emergency crises, including people who are contemplating suicide and you have to talk them out of that. I relished the role I played in assessing and relaying information from the public to the police.”
A York University psychology graduate, Pickering left Communications after starting a family.
Other civilian members were recognized with 40- and 20-year Long Service Pins that feature the Toronto Police Service (TPS) crest cast in gold with stones set in the banner.
The month of December is also significant for Detective Daniel Darnbrough and Sergeant Roland Wardle who were hired in 1973. They were among 15 recipients of Police Exemplary Service Medals for four decades of admirable service.
Working two jobs and about to turn 24, Darnbrough was looking for stability, job satisfaction and the opportunity to assist the community when the Service hired him.
“Looking back, I have accomplished all of those things I was yearning for and more,” he said.
Having spent almost 38 of his 40 years at 32 Division, Darnbrough considers the North York station home away from home.
“I have worked with some wonderful people there, including former Chief Bill McCormack who was my Staff Sergeant,” he recounted. “The next thing I knew he was the Chief of Police and he still reminds me up to this day that I didn’t buy him a hamburger for his promotion.”
Promoted in 1985, Darnbrough has been the recipient of TPS recommendation for bravery and exceptional service.
Just over a decade ago, he and Sergeant Robin Jitta, now assigned to 22 Division, were presented with Service Awards.
Alerted by York Regional Police to an abduction and extortion in Toronto, the two officers launched an investigation based on witness information and cellular phone transmissions.
As a result of their actions, the suspects and the victim were located at a Scarborough hotel.
Darnbrough, who plans to retire next year, is also the recipient of a Toronto Police Officer of the Month Award in 1976.
Responding to an abduction call early one morning, he located the victim and the suspect in the Bathurst St. & Sheppard Ave. E. area.
“It was around 7 a.m., and I chased the suspect up a hill before catching up with him,” he recalled. “As I was about to make the arrest, I glanced back briefly and saw several police cars with sirens heading in my direction. I felt good knowing that I was not alone."
When Sergeant Roland Wardle received his 20-Year Medal two decades ago, he was a piper and part of the ceremonial unit that provided the platform party escort.
This time, he had a front-row seat to the event where he was honoured for 40 years of exemplary service.
“I had to wait a year, from the time I put in my application to the day I received a call out of the blue that I was hired,” Wardle said. “I will never forget that day.”
Following assignments at #1 and 3 districts, and the police college where he spent five years, Wardle has been with Communications for the last decade.
He’s a member of the specialised Primary Report Intake, Management & Entry (PRIME) unit that provides the public with telephone and online responses to non-emergency and administrative calls for service.
“Working with the Service has been a fulfilling experience,” said Wardle, who retired from the Pipe band for health reasons.
A total of seven Auxiliary members, including Staff Superintendent Ben Lau, were also honoured with Auxiliary Police Medals, circular and constructed out of pewter.
Lau said the Service has made many positive steps since he joined in 1989.
“There is far more acceptance of us by police officers and also the community who value our voluntary service,” he said. “I have witnessed that progression and am proud of it.”
Nearly 300 Auxiliaries volunteer nearly 70,000 hours annually, assisting in community mobilization initiatives, crime prevention programs, special events, parades, searches for missing persons and emergency call-outs.
Lau has donated thousands of hours to the Service.
“When I was much younger, I estimated I gave almost 300 hours a year,” he said. “As I advanced in age, it was around 150.”
Chief Bill Blair thanked the long-serving members warmly for their dedicated and unyielding service.
“This is one of our best days, when we get to honour those who have served,” he said. “Though we measure these awards by the passage of time, what we are really doing here today is talking about service. It has been said that there is no higher calling than service and no better expression of that calling than public service. Those we honour today have answered the call to duty. They made a choice to serve and that means something. Today, we recognize not just the passage of time but exemplary service.”
In his congratulatory remarks, Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee reminded the recipients they are leaders in the organization and the community.
“Whether you are a police officer, civilian or Auxiliary member, all of your years of experience, in my view, have earned for you the title of leader in this police service and in the community,” he added. “It’s a responsibility you have taken on and a role that we need you to continue to play. You should be proud to be such loyal and longstanding members of our service.
“There is no doubt that the organization owes its outstanding reputation to the excellent work you do. It’s through your countless contributions, knowledge and expertise that the Service maintains its position of prominence and prestige in the world of policing.”
A total of 176 past and present members were honoured at the recognition ceremony.