Police Officers of the Year Save Man in Crisis

Office of the Chief

A group of 33 Division Toronto Police Service officers who prevented a man in crisis from dying by suicide were recognized with the Police Officers of the Year Award on May 15 at Hotel X.

Constable Paul Frias, Chris Dowling, Nana Kiany, Trevor McGarrity, Colin Nasmith and Michael Rowe were the recipients.

On November 21, 2022, a young man called 9-1-1, saying his father was on the 18th floor balcony, he wanted to kill himself and was about to jump.

The officers rushed to the scene and immediately launched into action, each playing a crucial role in the collaborative response.

The first officer on the balcony, Frias found the man precariously perched, standing on the railing without holding anything for support and refusing to listen to anyone. McGarrity gained entry to the balcony above to potentially take hold of the man. Dowling took over radio communications, providing detailed updates for everyone involved and Kiany gathered information from the man’s family to support the de-escalation process.

“My first priority was to make contact with him, get him to focus on me and try to convince him to come down from the railing,” said Frias. “This 18 minute conversation convinced the man to descend from the railing and Rowe helped secure him from harm. Dowling and Nasmith then took the man into custody and transported him to hospital for treatment.”

Superintendent Donovan Locke praised the officers’ teamwork.

“All of the officers who responded to this call worked effectively as a team in order to safely rescue the man who was intent on taking his life,” he noted. “Our officers risk their lives daily by putting themselves in frontline response to meet the needs of the community and, in this instance, someone who was in crisis. This is the pinnacle of de-escalation. They effectively used their training to positively interact with the individual. As a result, we had a positive outcome.”

This year, there were 11 stories of a single officer or group of officers based on bravery, humanitarianism, superior investigative work and outstanding police skills.

Read all the stories here


Officer jumping in air holding an award
Constable Don Louie E Laurel has some fun after receving his Police Excellence Award for helping solve a murder investigation


The Police Officer of the Year is selected by seasoned journalists, community and business members.

Chief Myron Demkiw said he is proud to be leading a police service with exceptional members.

“We are policing at a time when it is critical to work respectfully and collaboratively with our communities and build trust with them,” he said. “Every interaction we have is of critical importance. Your compassion, commitment to teamwork and unwavering dedication to our city’s complex needs, sometimes incurring risk to your own safety, not only reflect on you and our Service, but also inspire admiration and respect and help us build stronger and safer communities.”

Toronto Police Service Board Chair Ann Morgan said her organization deeply admires the work uniform and civilian members do to protect city residents.

“We know that for those who choose to join the police service, it is so much more than a job,” she noted. “It is a career built on personal, genuine and enduring dedication to community safety. It is a true calling, premised on a genuine commitment to ensuring that all Torontonians are safe and feel safe. And it is a noble vocation fueled by a sincere desire to make a real and meaningful difference in our neighbourhoods.

“For all of the police officers we have here tonight, those who have chosen this career, this path and have chosen to dedicate your own life to serving and protecting others, this choice is very much a reflection of who you are, the risks you are willing to take and the sacrifices you make every single day.”


Police Officer at podium
Chief Myron Demkiw speaks about the pride he has in TPS officers at the Police Excellence Awards


Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid expressed pride in the work uniform Service members do daily to keep citizens in the city safe.

“Make no mistake, this is a reflection of policing that goes on in our city each and every day,” he said. “You save lives… Without hesitation, you run towards danger when almost everyone else is running away. Tonight we are here to give you the recognition that you deserve. You may think you are just doing your jobs, but you are heroes.”

Kelly Penton, a Booking Officer at 42 Division, was the recipient of the Civilian Excellence Award.

On May 19, 2023 while working the day shift, she received a phone call at the front desk from a man advising he was at Scarborough Town Centre with the aim of causing harm to an old acquaintance. He also claimed he had a knife.

Penton calmly engaged the man who, a short time late and as a result of her engagement with him, walked into the Division and surrendered the knife.

She and other Service members displayed tremendous empathy and compassion with the man, who cooperated with them, while admitting he was in distress and did not wish to harm anyone.

Apprehended under the Mental Health Act, the man was transported to hospital for assessment and treatment. After his release, he and his family were provided additional resources through the FOCUS table at the Division, which helps connect people who are in need of community supports with those resources.

Penton said that taking care of this person alongside her colleagues was extremely fulfilling. 

“This was a situation where someone was in distress and was seeking help, so I am happy that I, along with team members at our Division, were able to help him and resolve the situation without anyone getting harmed,” she added.

Special constbale standing
Booking Officer Kelly Penton received the Civlian Excellence Award for helping a person in crisis

In 2009, a Business Excellence Award was established to honour exceptional Service members whose valuable contributions enable the organization to work effectively and efficiently.

A panel of business experts select the winner.

The Talent Acquisition, Workforce Planning and Insights and Corporate Communication teams are this year’s winners.

The team comprised Roberta Darnborough, Ritul Anand, Melissa Gibson, Stephanie Sayer, Kevin Masterman, Superintendent Ishmail Musah and Staff Sergeants Asif Ali and Michelle Campbell.

The Toronto Police Service is committing to attracting, hiring and retaining a workforce that reflects the city we serve. 

Between 2020 and 2022, the team developed a series of integrated and proactive approaches to promote, attract and measure recruitment and selection. One of the first phases of this work was to begin socio-demographic data collection as part of our hiring processes, to be able to report the demographics on who is applying and who is hired.  

In addition, they created a number of effective recruitment strategies targeting underrepresented groups, including a 2022 online recruitment campaign titled ‘Why TPS’, resulting in 33,000 click-throughs, and 35 million impressions, significantly widening the reach of our organization.

The data collection and promotion efforts led to important and necessary adjustments and process changes along the way, resulting in significantly enhancing the diversity of the organization’s workforce.   

Cadet classes increased in racial diversity by 33%, with a 39% increase in hiring of Black Members, there was a 15% increase in cadets fluent in two-plus languages and the number of female Uniform Senior Officers increased from 18% in 2019 to 25% by the end of 2022 

“The mindset of the team from the very first day was that we wanted to ensure our organization reflects the community it serves,” said Musah. “Their hard work has supported that and the Chief’s goal of increasing diversity in the Service.”

The inaugural Police Animal Excellence Award was presented to Staff Sergeant Michael Palermo and canine partner Luke.

They were recognized for their dogged effort to find an 86-year-old man with dementia.

The man, who suffered from other underlying medical conditions, went missing from his Lawrence Ave. E. apartment building late on October 19, 2023, leaving behind his mobility devices, making him vulnerable to falls.

Adjacent to his building is a heavily wooded ravine that, when combined with his frailty and without shoes, and dressed in little clothing, presented significant and immediate safety concerns.

Palermo, along with his five-year-old canine partner Luke – a highly motived half German Shepherd, half Belgian Malinois cross – carefully assessed the hazards associated with the ravine, and began to track the man.

A steady rain made finding a track more difficult than usual, with the team gaining and losing momentum, but persisting with the search.

“We worked together for four years as partners so if there was no scent, I could tell by his reactions and body language,” Palermo said. “But from what he showed me, the intensity, the way he was pulling with his nose down to the ground, I knew there was scent; it was just a matter of taking the time and pinpointing an exact track.”

After more than an hour through brush in pitch-black conditions, they came to a ridge and Luke began barking. Using his flashlight, Detective Sargeant Palermo found the man lying down and covered in leaves, suffering from the cold, but otherwise uninjured.

Throughout it all, Superintendent Colin Greenaway said the team never lost hope in their search.

“Michael’s hard work and dedication resulted in the life of an elderly male being saved,” he said. “At no point, did he ever think of giving up. His genuine care for the community kept him focused, despite the odds that faced him.”

The Toronto Board of Trade created the Police Excellence Awards in 1967.

“For many of you here tonight, this is the first time being recognized for doing something that you didn’t think twice about doing and, in most cases, will do all over again if the situation presents itself,” said Police Excellence Awards Committee Chair Chris Worth. “I want you to know that every time you put on that uniform, go out and you uphold the commitment to service, you put others’ lives and livelihood ahead of your own. You represent what it means to be an outstanding member of one of the best police services in the world.”

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