Plaque launched to honour police veterans

11 Division
The Toronto Police Military Veterans Association has unveiled a plaque in police headquarters lobby.

It recognizes active and retired Service members who have served overseas with international policing operations, post-war military units and in Vietnam and World War II.

The plaque was unveiled on June 3.

Veterans Association past president Jack Reid said he has always been impressed with officers’ willingness to go beyond the call of duty and serve their country overseas.

“We have added this plaque to recognize your service to the country and the community,” he said.

“When you come here in November, for the Remembrance Day service at headquarters, you will know that you are remembered as well. That’s the purpose of this plaque and we thank you for your service.”

Superintendent Diane Miller, the highest-ranking female Toronto police officer to be part of an overseas mission, spoke on behalf of officers who have served in international missions abroad.

In the past 14 years, a total of 89 Toronto police officers have been seconded to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and deployed to missions in Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Jordan, South Sudan, Haiti and Afghanistan.

“Each mission location presents its own unique circumstances and challenges,” said Miller, who returned from Afghanistan last March.

“The roles of our officers in the missions vary widely. There are two things, though, that all missions have in common and they are why we go and what we bring back. We go to work with international partners to rebuild and strengthen police services and related police institutions in countries experiencing conflict or upheaval, to help local police build capacity, to maintain law and order, to create a safe and stable environment and to allow for other humanitarian assistance and development that will lead to sustained peace.

“And we go with the hope that a more secured environment over there may prevent crime from spilling across borders into Canada and other countries.”

Group of officers sitting in the lobby of Toronto Police Headquarters during plaque unveiling
Chief Bill Blair and Deputy Chief Peter Sloly at the plaque unveiling ceremony Photo: Ron Fanfair

Chief Bill Blair thanked the officers for their sacrifice and said the plaque will serve as a marker for the contributions.

“Your service and sacrifice have added greatly to the tradition of honourable service that our police service has always enjoyed,” he said.

The funds for the plaque came from a successful “pennies drive” that resulted in nearly $3,000 being raised two years ago.

A Service member for 25 years, Sergeant John Thibodeau conceived the idea while watching a documentary,For King and Empire: Canada’s Soldiers in the Great War, that explores the battlefields, cemeteries and monuments of the First World War. The men who fought recount their stories and viewers learn how the naïve and amateur soldiers became the most feared, efficient and deadly Allied fighting machine on the western front.

Shortly after watching the show, it was announced that the Canadian penny would be phased out.

With help from Constable Margaret Entwistle, the 11 Division officers co-ordinated the “pennies drive.”

Two police officers standing in front of a wall with two plaques on it
Const Margaret Entwistle and Sgt. Jack Thibodeau Photo: Ron Fanfair

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