New Constable Reconnects with Police Mentor
Growing up Rashid Mbarouk saw the toll that violence took on a community and was inspired to do what he could to keep his city safe.
The Tanzanian immigrant came to Canada with his family in 2004 settling in Lawrence Heights, where he was exposed to the tragedy of losing friends to gun violence.
Despite the turmoil around him, he aspired to be a police officer. After telling his Grade 10 guidance counsellor, she connected him with the School Resource Officer at the time, Constable Lance Waddell.
“She told me ‘Officer Lance’ is a very nice person, I should talk to him and he might be able to help me,” recalled Mbarouk. “When I met him for the first time and told him what I wanted to do, he advised me not to get into trouble with the law, volunteer in the community and pursue my passion. He also said if I needed any advice, I should not hesitate to reach out to him. That was the first positive interaction I had with a police officer. Previously, I was stopped by police and the engagement was always negative. He changed my whole perspective on the way I look at police.”
After finishing high school, he completed the Humber College Police Foundations program and worked as a security officer part-time before applying to several police organizations in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.
“I really wanted to be a police officer and it didn’t matter how far I had to go to become one,” Mbarouk said.
His dream came true when he was hired as a cadet-in-training, beginning his three months of training this Spring.
In April, while completing training at the college, Mbarouk had the chance to complete another journey, having the opportunity to say thanks to the police officer who nudged him on his path.
“It was at the end of my lunch break and this new cadet stopped me in the hallway,” said Waddell, who is a Neighbourhood Community Officer in 42 Division, but wasn’t wearing his uniform that day.
“He appeared nervous but looked me straight in the eye and asked if I was ‘Officer Lance.’ Once I confirmed it was me, he asked if I remembered him. It took a few moments, but I recognized his face. I said ‘Rashid’ and then was overcome with joy and a few tears after he said I was the one that inspired him to become a police officer. That encounter was deeply moving.”
Waddell is the son of community worker Lynette Waddell, who died in 2002. In 1997, she was honoured with a Harry Jerome Award for Volunteerism.
“My mom was very passionate about helping others,” he said. “The dedicated work I put in the communities I serve is a testament to the principles and values she instilled in me. As I begin my 18th year as an officer, I can say with extreme confidence that the work we are doing means more than we can truly comprehend. To impact the lives of many is the main goal, but even if we can only have one positive impact from time to time, I consider that success.”
Waddell presented Mbarouk with his badge on graduation day June 5 at the Toronto Police College, closing the loop on that positive moment he had years earlier.
The rookie cop starts his policing career in 51 Division.
Mbarouk said policing will allow him to connect with people who faced the same challenges he did as a young man exposed to violence in his own neighbourhood.
“I can relate to some of the challenges that residents’ face in the community."