New Officers Join Ranks
In high school, Tenzin Choephel knew he wanted to be an Emergency Services provider.
“It was either policing or firefighting,” he said.
Choephel, who speaks four languages, eventually settled for a law enforcement career.
“As I grew older, I could see that policing is a profession where you are able to connect with many people from diverse backgrounds and that was really appealing for me,” said the new Police Constable who received his badge at a graduation ceremony on June 24. “You get to hear their stories and then apply your training to assist them.”
After completing Centennial College’s Police Foundations program, Choephel did Humber College’s one-year Crime Scene Investigation program and worked in the hospital sector for a few years before joining the Service as a Court Officer.
“That was a great experience as I got the preparation I needed for the role I am now in,” he said, of working as a Court Officer who provide security at courthouses and transport prisoner among other duties. “Working with police officers, I asked questions and just got a feel for what the job of policing a large city like Toronto entails.”
The new officer, who won the Most Improved Fitness Award, is assigned to 43 Division.
In the banking sector for three years, the monotony of office work seeped in and Rashi Soni began seeking out a new challenge.
“I love community work and being among people, so I looked at policing and thought that would offer me what I was looking for,” she said. “It was the same thing everyday for me in my previous job and I wanted to move away from that.”
A positive interaction with a Toronto Police officer three years ago motivated her to consider policing as a career.
“Something happened at a friend’s house where I was at the time and I told my story to the officer,” said Soni, who migrated from India in 2017. “The officer listened and was very patient and professional. Before he left, I asked him what does it take to become a police officer. My interest peaked after he was finished and I did my research to find out more about what I needed to do to become an officer.”
She applied in March 2020 and was successful on her first try.
“I did some security work while doing my full-time job,” said Soni, who is assigned to 23 Division. “I was working seven days a week and all that hard work paid off.”
Like Soni, new Constable Jessica White found herself working an office job and began asking ‘What career would push me to learn and constantly grow?’
In looking for the answer, she thought policing would be the perfect fit.
“I was sitting at a desk all the time and the work I was doing became repetitive,” said the University of Guelph-Humber graduate.
White completed the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program with Peel Regional Police Service while in high school in Brampton.
“I was 16 at the time and I got some exposure to what policing entails,” she said.
As she embarks on a new career that is both demanding and challenging, White is looking forward to serving the citizens of the city.
“It’s quite an honour to wear the uniform and I hope I can make a difference in my new role,” said White, who will work out of 33 Division.
Shortly after leaving India seven years ago, Ankit Dabhi made friends with immigrants from India and joined them in playing cricket on weekends in Windsor.
Some of the games were against teams with police officers from the area.
“I quickly realized that policing here is so much different than back in India,” said Dabhi. “I never saw officers back home playing with the kids and I rarely saw cops in cruisers interacting with citizens in the area that I grew up in.”
He sought out officers to talk about how to join policing.
“I asked them how I could become one of them and they advised me, saying I should take a few relevant courses and try to reach fitness levels that are required for the job,” said Dabhi, who has an undergraduate degree in Electronics and Communication and a graduate degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the University of Windsor.
After competing his Master’s, he came to the Greater Toronto Area and joined the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) as an Auxiliary member.
He is assigned to Traffic Services.
In welcoming the new recruits, Chief James Ramer said they will have the opportunity and privilege to keep the public safe and to make enormous contributions to the lives of city residents.
“It is our responsibility to make sure we are meeting their expectation in the areas that matter most to them,” he said. “As an organization, we are taking steps to support you on the frontline and to support the needs of our growing city.”
While policing is a rewarding career, Ramer reminded the graduates there will be times when they will be deeply impacted.
“As your Chief, I strongly encourage you to ask for help when needed,” he said. “The Service will support you and provide you with the resources you need. And while we look after you, it is equally important that you remember to look after each other. Advocate for colleagues who may not be able to advocate for themselves. And at all times, respect each other.”
To maintain public trust, Ramer said each graduate must hold themselves accountable on and off the job.
“Ask yourselves if the actions you are taking during the course of your duties reflect the expectations of our communities, and of your colleagues, to be treated fairly and with dignity,” he said. “Ask yourselves every day if you’ve done all you can to support one another, your community and your organization. Be a part of what makes this Service great and know that I have every confidence that you will.”
Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Jim Hart told the recruits that they are joining a ‘family’ and that their wide range of experiences, skills and backgrounds are assets for their work.
Of the 75 graduates whose ages range from 23 to 45, a total of 33 per cent speak at least one language other than English.
Twelve of them speak multiple languages, including Punjabi, Spanish, French, Cantonese, Arabic, Hindi, Korean and Bulgarian.
“Your diversity is a mirror of our extraordinary city,” said Hart. “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 that is the critical key to all we do.
“As our newest members, we welcome your contribution as to how we can serve the public most effectively, most efficiently and most compassionately, dedicated to delivering police services, in partnership with our communities, to keep Toronto the best and safest place to be.”
Hart reminded the new officers that they are joining a Service whose members often go above and beyond the call of duty.
“Most Torontonians will never hear about the daily heroism on display in communities across Toronto,” he said. “Notably, our members never ask for recognition. Indeed, they usually and humbly say, ‘We were simply doing our jobs’. And today, you join their extraordinary ranks. You are the people who will change the lives of Torontonians on a daily basis.”
Mayor John Tory, who is a TPSB member, was on hand to welcome the new recruits to the police fold.
“This marks the official start of a career that will impact not just your own lives in a very significant way, but the lives of many other people,” he said. “What goes with that when you start a career like this is a commitment to the people that you are serving and to the city itself.”
Tory said Canada’s largest municipal police service is one of excellence.
“There are issues all the time,” he added. “As a big organization with heavy responsibilities as our police service is, there are going to be discussions, issues, debates and criticism and sometimes they are warranted. But the bottom line is that we are extremely well served by our police service in this city.”
Brandon Vukovich and Colman Fung, who each obtained a mark of 99.2 per cent, were the High Academic Achievement Award winners.
Tyler Brown was the recipient of the Harry Mayzell Leadership Award, Jacob Field-Stephens captured the High Performance in Fitness Award, Justin Benoit was recognized for Drill, Dress & Deportment and Jesseca Regisford was presented the Gulshan Kassamali Diversity & Inclusion Award
The Glen Cole Memorial Award was presented to class valedictorian Andrea Persichetti who served as a District Special Constable before becoming a uniformed member.
A total of 20 of the graduates were employed with the Service as District Special Constables, Parking Enforcement officers and Communications Operators before making the transition.