Performing at Top of Dream Job
About two years after migrating from Portugal with her family, then-12-year-old Eliana Santos called 9-1-1 after a thief broke into her uncle’s truck.
“He told me to do that while my mom ran after the suspect, caught him and literally knocked him (to the ground) before 14 Division officers showed up,” she recalled. “They showed me their badges and I was in awe of the professionalism they displayed in conducting their investigation. I told myself that I wanted to be just like them.”
Now Detective-Constable Eliana Santos is being honoured for her police work with the Ontario Women in Law Enforcement (OWLE) Excellence in Performance Award on June 9.
“This award means a lot because I put a lot of time and effort into my work,” said Santos, who is a Toronto Police Service (TPS) lead affiant. “I really love my job.”
To obtain a warrant, the affiant drafts an Information to Obtain.
In her role, she spends countless hours sitting behind a computer and typing all hours of the day to support complex investigations spanning as long as six months.
Superintendent Steve Watts and Detective Sergeant Travis Clark, who nominated Santos for the award, said she is unflappable.
“There is a tendency for affiants to become flustered, discouraged and short of patience when they near the end of typing an affidavit for a six-month period,” they noted in their nomination. “She has unbelievable patience and always has a smile on her face.”
The nominators noted that Santos is unparalleled in organization and information retention and she has an excellent understanding of the law in one of the most technical areas of the Criminal Code.
“The success of the Toronto Police Service Major Project Section (MPS) over the past seven years is a direct result of her work and leadership in one of the most difficult roles policing has to offer,” they said. “Through her determination and willingness to overcome any obstacle in her path, her leadership and work inspiration is a constant inspiration for her colleagues and the community.”
Crown Attorney Vince Paris said Santos stands as the epitome of wiretap affiants.
“Major organized crime investigations are some of the most complex undertakings of any police service,” noted the Guns and Gangs Support Unit Team Leader. “They require an encyclopedic knowledge of the facts, a firm understanding of the law, keen writing skills and a near superhuman ability to organize volumes of information. Affiants are the focal point of the investigation and the prosecution as their end product can be under attack for months on end. She is the keystone for the Crowns in their prosecution of their cases.”
Speaking no English on her arrival in Canada in 1988, Santos became fluent in the language after three years of school.
The former President of her high school’s Multicultural Society completed a student co-op placement with the Service’s Homicide Unit in 1997 and was the recipient of her school’s Excellence in Co-op Award.
While enrolled in Humber College’s Law and Security Administration program, Santos worked two jobs and was a Big Sister volunteer.
Hired by the Service in 2000 as a Civilian Monitor working on wiretap investigations, she achieved her lifetime goal to become a uniformed officer four-and-a-half years later.
Starting at 13 Division, Santos was assigned to the Primary Response, Community Response and Major Crime Units before joining the Major Project Section in 2015 after completing the Wiretap Affiant Course.
The unit conducts complex large-scale wiretap investigations relating to groups that constitute criminal organizations. The investigations entail surveillance, background investigations of known violent criminals and countless hours of warrant preparation.
Santos was the lead affiant for Projects Kronic in 2017, Kraken two years later and Red Owl in 2021.
When not the lead affiant, she assumes a ‘supporting affiant’ role. She was ‘support affiant’ for Projects Patton in 2018 and Sunder in 2020.
“The’ supporting affiant’ title does not accurately reflect her role during these projects,” noted her nominators. “She leads, trains and mentors the affiant team through all the steps of preparing an affidavit in support of an Authorization to Intercept Private Communications. These affidavits and supporting appendices routinely consist of approximately 3,000 pages.”
The projects that Santos has been an affiant on while at the MPS has led to the arrest of 459 persons who were mostly very violent criminals, the seizure of 172 firearms, millions of dollars of currency and assets and multiple kilograms of varying controlled substances.
The arrests and seizures of illegal items were conducted through the execution of 712 Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substance Act warrants that Santos and her affiant team wrote.
“Eliana’s leadership and selflessness is recognized by all of her supervisors and peers,” added her nominators. “She is known throughout our Service as the expert on wiretap affidavit preparation. She routinely is called upon to also provide her knowledge and advice to outside police agencies who are commencing a wiretap investigation. She has a superior work ethic and the career path she has chosen is a difficult one.”
Dayna Boyko, Keri Fernandes, Christine Kluge, Martina Kovacevic, Rebecca Sisk, Kelly Skinner and Katherine Stevenson were also nominated in the Excellence in Performance Award category.
Other TPS nominees were Ivy Nanayakkara (Civilian Award of Achievement), Nicole Rebelo (Innovation), Patricia Oliveira (Mentoring & Coaching) and Roman Dabrowski (Teamwork).
Several members were presented Long Service awards.
They were Joanne Tawton (40 years); Lisabet Benoit, Leslie Koski, Lor McGee and Cheryl McNeil (35 years); Barbara Adam, Anne-Marie Bishop, Rhian Koski, Mary Rice, Joyce Schertzer, Ann-Marie Tupling, Kathy Washington, Diane Brown, Barbara Douglas, May Won and Jackie Rasmusson (30 years); Karen Durant, Liz Figueira, Janelle Blackadar, Lee Ann West, Michelle Flannery, Andrea Forbes, Michelle Powell, Natasha Prasad, Melva Radway, Cristina Ramsbottom, Jacqueline Baus and Lynne Cawker (25 years).