New Police Constables Ready for Road

Office of the Chief
Toronto Police College

A class of 146 new police officers marched into their new careers all carrying with them the goal of serving their community. 

“I am incredibly happy and excited for each and every one of you as I welcome you to our police family,” Chief Myron Demkiw told the recruits assembled at the Toronto Police College. “I look forward to supporting you as you begin your career as a Toronto Police officer. Each of you brings unique and diverse life experiences and intersectional identities to your policing career. 

“Your language skills, your academic excellence and your lived experiences will serve you well throughout your career and they will also help you better understand and relate to our diverse communities and community members. While you each have come from different backgrounds with unique combinations of education and experiences, you also share many similarities. You are alike in your compassion for others and your desire to selflessly serve your communities. It is these similarities that brought all of you together six months ago right here.”

Police officer facing camera among other facing other way
Chief Myron Demkiw inspects the new Police Constables Photo: Kevin Masterman

The graduates ages range from 21 to 51 and 77 of them speak a second language and 75% hold post-secondary degrees and diplomas, including five Master’s.

With the newly minted officers, Demkiw shared three important lessons he said he wished he had known when he joined the Service in 1990.

“It is important to seek first to understand before you seek to be understood,” he said. “I have learned, sometimes the hard way, just how important it is to listen and understand first. Listen very carefully to your supervisors, your Coach Officers, your community and, of course, your significant other. And always remember that community members call us when they need our help the most. They may need that help on one of the most challenging days of their lives.”

The Chief also encouraged the newcomers to enhance their knowledge through continuous learning and prioritize and practice self-care.

“As police officers, our health, safety and well-being are essential for us to serve our communities effectively,” Demkiw pointed out. “I am confident that if I had prioritized and practiced better self-care, I would have been better able to serve our communities throughout my career.”

Speaking directly to the recruits families, the Chief said their loved ones are in safe hands.

“I want you to know that we have done and will continue to do everything possible to ensure your favourite officer is as 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,” he said.

“Your favourite officer is part of one of the most highly trained recruit classes in the history of the Toronto Police Service and your favourite officer is a member of our police family and, by extension, you are also now part of our police family. Your favourite officer’s health, safety and well-being is and will always be my top priority.”

A police officer stands in a hallway with a wall of glass, showing snow on the ground outside
New PC Matthew West Photo: Brent Smyth

Matthew West started as a Toronto Police Communications Operator and Special Constable before finding himself as an officer.

Being away from his family for three months at the Ontario Police College (OPC) at Aylmer was the hardest part of the six-month training for West, but the preparation was worth the sacrifice.

“I would go home some weekends for just a day,” he said. “That was tough because I was never separated from my family for that lengthy period… The training was of a very high standard and I know we are well prepared for our new roles.”

When looking for a multifaceted career, Gagandeep Mundi zeroed in on policing.

“I consider myself a ‘Jack of All Trades’ and I wanted to be part of something that reflects that,” she pointed out. “As I looked at my options, policing seemed to be one of the few careers that offered what I am looking for.”

To prepare for a career with Toronto Police, Mundi was a health care Security Guard for two years.

“I wanted to get a sense of how you deal with people who are in crisis so that I could use those skills as a police officer,” she said.

She said the comprehensive training at the Colleges gave her a great deal of confidence.

“I soon found out that the training involves a lot of theory to assist with our decision-making when we are out on the streets,” said Mundi, knowing that she will continue to learn so much more. “In my interactions with the community, I know I will learn new things and, in the process, grow as a person.”

Toronto Police Services Board Vice-Chair Lisa Kostakis said the diversity the new police officers bring to the Service mirrors their city. 

“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.”

In welcoming the recruits, Kostakis reminded them they are joining an organization comprising a talented and committed team that is renowned and respected globally.

“Today you begin your career as police officers and gain an incredible and unique opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact on our city and a personal contribution to the safety and well-being of the community that you have vowed to serve and protect,” she added. “It is important to acknowledge the sheer enormity of the service you will provide. It is you and your colleagues who do the difficult work of keeping us all safe. It is you who have made the decision to devote yourselves so fully to others to serve and protect us all.”

Two people speak to row of police officers
Solcitor General Michael Kerzner and Mayor Olivia Chow join the inspection of new Police Constables Photo: Kevin Masterman

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said the recent shootings in the Jane & Driftwood area should serve as a reminder of the work that needs to be done to make the city safer.

“The recent city budget puts Toronto on that path – gets us back on track – towards a more affordable, caring and safer city,” she pointed out. “It invests in safer communities, in mental health crisis response, in young people, in school nutrition programs, and yes, in Toronto’s Police Service.” 

Chow called on the graduates to approach their job with humility, curiosity and patience.

“Also, do so with an open mind and an open heart,” she said. “Learn and grow to be a better police officer and serve our city and the people who call it home for years to come.”

Ontario’s Solicitor General Michael Kerzner told the graduates each of them will play a critical role in the well-being of the city.

“You will be part of a legacy that has kept Toronto safe for a very long time,” he said. “You will encounter challenges along the way, you will help people along the way and you will be part of a community where you can make a difference.”

A police officer stands in a spot of sunlight causing a long shadow while standing in a gym
New PC Harjot Singh Photo: Brent Smyth

Growing up in India, Harjot Singh admired the police officers in khaki uniforms.

“I liked the way they interacted with the community,” he said. 

Soon after migrating to the Greater Toronto Area in 2018, Singh joined a security company to enhance his law enforcement experience.

He was also a volunteer TPS Auxiliary member for just under a year, serving in 22 and 32 Divisions. At 32, he was selected to take part in that Division’s Neighbourhood Officer Pilot Program that allowed Auxiliary members to accompany NCOs on their beats.

“That was a powerful program that allowed me to see the interaction between the community and the police and how that could be useful in building community trust,” said Singh who is assigned to 31 Division.

He was a Correctional Officer before joining TPS.

The journey was not easy for Marlyn Tolang who left the Philippines in 2011 and worked to secure her resident status before enrolling in a Police Foundations program.

“I was juggling work, school and physical workouts while ensuring my family back home were taken care of as I was the family breadwinner,” said Tolang.

To prepare for a career as a uniformed officer, she was an Auxiliary member and Special Constable.

Tolang is among 28 new uniformed officers who were employed in civilian roles.

Police officer marching
New Constable Marlyn Tolang Photo: Kevin Masterman

Among the graduating class is Sa’Ed Nur who completed the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program in 2015 where high school students get paid experience working in policing units. He was assigned to Communications Services – the 9-1-1 call centre.

He later graduated from York University Law & Society program and was a security guard for six years before joining the Service.

“I was born and raised in Toronto, so this is the only police organization I wanted to be part of,” said Nur, who is going to Traffic Services.

Established in 2006, the six-week summer program caters to high school and university students, between 15 and 18, who come from City of Toronto-designated Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and often struggle to find summer employment.

Since the program inception 18 years ago, 39 alumni – 21 uniformed and 18 civilian – have returned to work with TPS. Three cadets are currently in the current class at OPC.

Police officers marching
New Police Constables marching into the graduation ceremony Photo: Kevin Masterman

Several prizes were presented at the graduation.

Phoenix Ramz earned the High Academic Achievement Award with a mark of 99.4%, Kevin Machado was the recipient of the Harry Mayzell Leadership Award, Dylan Guzzi captured the High Performance in Fitness Award, David Murphy won the Most Improved Fitness Award and Sohail Abdul Aziz was recognized for Drill, Dress & Deportment.

Jamie Jenkinson was the recipient of the Gulshan Kassamali Diversity & Inclusion Memorial Award while the Glen Cole Memorial Award was presented to class valedictorian Breton Van Schubert.

“Over the past six months, we have learned the fundamentals of law together, sweat through physical training sessions together, stood shoulder to shoulder on firearms lines and worked through the complexities of scenario training side by side,” Van Schubert pointed out. “The truth is what we have is each other. At the beginning of our training, that would not have brought much comfort to any of us. It is a rare thing to put trust in complete strangers. However, we quickly realized that policing requires you to trust fellow officers and to be trustworthy in return.”

On behalf of the class, Van Schubert acknowledged the Toronto and Ontario Police Colleges training officers.

“There is truly no way to repay you,” he added.

Beginning last August, the recruits spent five weeks at TPC where they were introduced to the Criminal Code and the Highway Traffic and Provincial Acts. 

They also received Bias Avoidance, Indigenous Experience, Mental Health & Addiction, Peer Intervention and LGBTQ2S training before heading to OPC on September 6.

Police officer standing in a row
New Police Constable Joshua Greenblatt waits to receive his badge Photo: Kevin Masterman

At Aylmer, the focus was on academics, police vehicle operations, defensive tactics, firearms and physical training.

Back at TPC since December 11, they spent the last 10 weeks doing scenarios, report writing, vehicle stops and additional physical training.

“A lot of that training in the last 10 weeks is hand-on and Toronto-focussed,” said Staff Sergeant Leo MacDonald, the Community Policing Section Head at the College for the last three years. “They drive through the city and we do different scenarios, including practicing pulling over vehicles and parading prisoners. And in the last week we spend time on drills to ensure they can march properly.”

The day after graduation, the recruits head out to their Divisions for station orientation before being matched up with a Coach Officer who partners with them.

Every graduating class raises funds for a charity.

Class 23-03 donated 474 items, including hats, scarves, mitts, gloves, socks and clothing to John Howard Society and 100 children items to families in need through Progressive Place Weston Community Hub. 

Police officer holding hat under arm
New Police Constables hold their forge caps during the benediction Photo: Kevin Masterman

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