Mentors Lead New Constables to Policing

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Toronto Police College

A year after arriving with his family from Iraq as refugees in 2011, Parsa Hazeri entered high school in Grade Nine at George S. Henry Academy and became very close to then School Resource Officer Constable Patrick Thompson.

“I barely spoke English and I had a hard time adjusting to my new environment,” he said.

Meeting Thompson was like a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

“I didn’t have a lot of friends and so I spent a lot of time in his office and he took me under his wing,” said Hazeri. “He helped to advance my English, he advised me about the steps I needed to take if I wanted to get into policing and he answered every question I asked, including ‘Why are your boots so shiny all the time?’ He told me it was about representing yourself well professionally. He was always there for me as a mentor and I knew that policing was going to be the career I was going to be in.”

With Thompson’s encouragement, the young man was accepted into the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) Summer program in 2015 and assigned to the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General Probation & Parole Office.

“After Officer Thompson pushed me to put in that application and I got through, I was so excited,” he said. “I got to visit some of the Toronto Police specialized units that summer and realized there are so many opportunities within the Service. Once I graduated, nothing was going to stop me from becoming a police officer in Toronto.”

After graduating from high school in 2017, Hazeri took a year off to volunteer full-time and then enrolled in Humber College’s Protection, Security & Investigation program.

He was a Security guard at Humber College for two years before successfully applying to Toronto Police Service (TPS) to become a uniformed officer.

Hazeri was among 122 new recruits who received their badges on October 23 at the Toronto Police College.

He is assigned to 33 Division where his mentor has worked all 21 of years on the job.

“I am so happy for this young man,” said Thompson, who attended the ceremony. “This guy stuck so close to me that he was like my shadow. He kept in touch and was always seeking guidance and advice. He will be an exceptional officer.”


A close-up of a handshake
Chief Myron Demkiw hands a badge to a new Constable Photo: Brent Smyth


A dozen of the new officers have military experience, 91% attained post-secondary education and 36% speak at least one language other than English, including Arabic, Tamil, Urdu, German, Greek, Korean, Hindi, Serbian and American Sign Language.

In welcoming the new members to the policing family, Chief Myron Demkiw said their diverse experiences and diversity will enhance Canada’s largest municipal police service.

“I know that each of you brings unique and diverse life experiences and a number of intersectional identities to your respective policing careers,” he said. “Your language skills, your academic excellence and your lived experiences will serve you well throughout your respective careers and they will also help you better understand and relate to our communities.”

Toronto’s seventh Police Chief shared important lessons with the graduates he wished he had known when he joined the Service in 1990 a year after completing his undergraduate degree in Political Science & Criminology at the University of Toronto.

“It is important to seek first to understand before you seek to be understood, continuous learning and education helped enhance my knowledge, skills and abilities as a police leader and there is immense value in consistently prioritizing and practicing self-care,” Demkiw told them.

“As police officers, our health, safety and well-being are essential for us to serve our communities effectively. I am confident that had I prioritized and practiced better self-care, I would have been better able to serve our communities throughout my career. Additionally, this would have served me well in my personal life and the relationships I value most with my wife and our two sons.”

Speaking directly to the recruits’ families, Demkiw promised they are in an environment that cares deeply about them and will do everything to ensure they return to their homes safely after every shift.

“I know some of you are worried,” he said. “And I completely understand why. I want you to know that we have done, and will continue to do, everything to ensure your favourite officer is safe as they can possibly be and that they have the best available training, equipment and support through guidance and supervision to help keep them safe.

“When you leave here today, I’d love for you to remember that your favourite officer is part of one of the most highly trained recruit classes in the history of the Toronto Police Service, your favourite officer is a member of our police family and, by extension, you too are now part of our police family and your favourite officer’s health, safety and well-being is and will always be my top priority.”

After eight years in Human Resources, Anne Carol Arokianathan-Lourdo was looking for a challenge.

With a lifelong dream to be a police officer after hearing about the positive accomplishments of her paternal grandfather who was in the India military, she bided her time.


Police officer smiles at the camera
Police Constable Anne Carol Arokianathan Lourdo is 41 Division's newest officer Photo: Brent Smyth


Coming to Canada five years ago as a student, Arokianathan-Lourdo applied to Toronto Police Service last November.

“I did apply to another service, but Toronto was always my preference,” she said. “They moved my application way faster and the whole process was very smooth. I attended a couple of Information and Physical Readiness Evaluation for Policing (PREP) Sessions at the Toronto Police College just to get a sense of some of the requirements needed to be a police officer. The sessions were very informative and I was well received.”

Arokianathan-Lourdo, who is assigned to 41 Division, has a Bachelor’s in Electronic Communications and a Master’s in Business Administration.

She worked in Dubai for two years as a Human Resources Recruiter before relocating to the Greater Toronto Area.

During his fourth year of Business & Communication Studies at McMaster University, Mark Cruz recognized that policing could be a viable career.

“I had never given it any serious thought until then,” he said.

Recognizing he didn’t have any law enforcement experience, Cruz worked in security for a year before sending applications to five Ontario police services, including Toronto.

“The process moved seamlessly with Toronto and here I am,” said Cruz, who grew up in Rexdale.

After making the decision to pursue a policing career, he turned to his then youth pastor Steevens Audige for counselling.

The People Church Congregational Life Pastor joined the Service three years ago and is assigned to 53 Division.

“He encouraged me and assisted me during the process of applying,” added Cruz, who is going to 14 Division. “He has been my mentor.”


Police Chief smiles at new officers
Chief Myron Demkiw chats with new officers during inspection Photo: Brent Smyth


There was something about people wearing law enforcement uniforms that caught Niko Sheferman’s attention.

“I saw the way people respected them and the ways in which they helped citizens,” she said. “I never felt scared approaching a police officer and I told myself since I was very young that I would be like them one day.”

Sheferman, started school in Grade 9 in Canada after migrating from Israel 12 years ago, volunteered with Victim Services in York Region and did the 9-1-1 dispatcher course as part of the 911 & Emergency Services Communications studies while at Seneca College before putting in her resume to Toronto and another police service last year.

“Toronto moved very quickly and I am so glad to be here,” she said. “The training was long and extensive, which will work to our benefit. It shows that Toronto cares about its recruits and wants them to have the best.”

Sheferman is assigned to 43 Division.

Before joining the Service, some of the new officers were in civilian roles with TPS, including Parking Enforcement, Communications Services and Special Constables while others transitioned from other professions, including nursing, social work and real estate.

“Each of you bring unique experiences and lenses which help to better understand your roles and enhance your connections to the public,” noted Toronto Police Services Board Vice-Chair Lisa Kostakis. “You come from across the globe and your diversity is a mirror of our extraordinary city. And in it lies our formidable strength. The quality of our Service is strengthened when the diversity of our great city is reflected in those who police it.

“Through you, we can reach out to our different communities and neighbourhoods, speak to community members in their home languages, create and fortify relationships and thus enhance our ever-important partnership with the public, the critical key to all we do.”

Kostakis urged the recruits to stand and walk proud.

“Do so, however, with humility and humbleness,” she said. “Serve our communities with compassion and protect respectfully. Always know that your Toronto Police Association, your Board, your Command and most definitely your Chief and, just as important, your loved ones have you.”

The graduates were part of 535 recruits from across the province training at the Ontario Police College – the largest cohort of police officers.

“These are amazing people who came forward and said I want to make a difference to keep Ontario safe,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner who attended the ceremony. “You can make a difference in your community’s life absolutely everyday… Ontario is a diverse province and this class looks like Ontario and we are excited about that.”


Police Officer smiles at the camera
New Police Constable Mark Cruz will start his policing career in 14 Division Photo: Brent Smyth


Several awards were presented at the graduation.

Keegan Tyhurst earned the High Academic Achievement Award with a mark of 97.6%, Nikol Sheferman was the recipient of the Harry Mayzell Leadership Award, Bryan Cheron captured the High Performance in Fitness Award, Daniel Helliwell won the Most Improved Fitness Award and Roshan Mendonca was recognized for Drill, Dress & Deportment.

Parsa Hazeri was the recipient of the Gulshan Kassamali Diversity & Inclusion Memorial Award while the Glen Cole Memorial Award was presented to class valedictorian Michael Williams.

“Being a police officer means we are held to a higher standard at all times,” Williams said. “It is the duty to serve that is at the heart of our core function. This standard was etched into us on day one of our training.”

The recruits spent three months at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer and 11 weeks at the Toronto Police College.

“During our training, some of us like myself lost loved ones,” said Williams. “It was extremely difficult to maintain focus, but we managed to get through it with the support and encouragement of our fellow recruits and management staff. For that, I say thank you. We have been trained by the best and now we are ready to represent the Toronto Police Service, delivering police services in partnership with our communities.”

Every graduating class raises funds for a charity.

Class 23-02 collected nearly 190 new toys that will be donated to the Hospital for Sick Children.


Two police officers hug
Two new Police Constables celebrate Photo: Brent Smyth




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