Recognizing Community Partners

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Everyday people and policing partners were recognized with Toronto Police Service awards at police headquarters on April 7 for helping police save lives and solve crimes.

On October 21, 2023 just after mid-day, Pantelis Kavouras was walking with his dog along the Lake Ontario shoreline trails south of Glen Everest Rd. in Scarborough when he heard faint breathing and moaning sounds coming from the water.

A few minutes later, he saw a man partially submerged with his face up in the water.

Kavouras pulled the mam as much as he could out of the water and called 9-1-1.

Constable Jeff Lyle was the first officer on the scene.

“Pantelis ran up a very steep hill with his dog and waved me down,” said the 41 Division officer. “He directed me along with the Fire Service and paramedics to where the guy was. His torso was out of the water, but his legs were still in.”

Toronto Fire Services and the Toronto Police Marine Unit coordinated a rescue effort that saw the man being taken by boat to Bluffers Park where an ambulance was waiting to transport him to hospital.

Lyle nominated Kavouras for the award.

“The initiative he showed during this dynamic rescue event, quick thinking and willingness to help a fellow community member in distress is highly commendable,” said the officer, who has been with the Service for five years.

Superintendent Warren Wilson, the 41 Division Unit Commander, said Kavouras deserves the accolade.

“His selfless and gallant actions to save the life of a complete stranger were simply incredible,” he said.

Three Toronto Community Housing Special Constables hold framed wards next to a police officer
Toronto Community Housing Special Constables (left to right) Daulton Rutherford, Leigh McCormick and Haddy Hakim with Deputy Chief Lauren Pogue Photo: Brent Smyth

A group of Toronto Community Housing special constables were also commended for their quick thinking and diligence when a woman called them to remove a man from her home.

It was on New Year’s eve morning when Special Constables Daulton Rutherford, Leigh McCormick and Haddy Hakim responded to a call.

“She said he didn’t want to leave, he was rude to her and she wanted him out.” Rutherford recounted. “When we got to the unit, the man was sleeping on the bed. We woke him up and saw a firearm attachment on the floor. While speaking with him, he pulled out wads of cash and was fidgeting around looking for something.”

Hakim quietly left the room and alerted police.

When 41 Division officers arrived and detained the man, a firearm was found under a pillow. While searching, they alleged to have recovered 3.83 grams of fentanyl, 22.73 grams of cocaine and over $1,300 in cash.

Early last Thanksgiving Day on October 8, community resident Mahlia Richie observed a man walking close to the intersection on Birchmount & Sheppard Avenues without shoes and in shorts, talking to himself.

“It was a cold morning, so I told him to stay put at the bus stop where he was,” she recalled.

Richie called 9-1-1, went to a nearby Walmart store and bought a hoodie, pants, large pack of socks a gift card.

‘When I got back, he was gone,” she said. “So I gave the clothes and card to the officers to hand it over to him when he was found.”

Why did Richie go out of her way to help a stranger?

“I grew up with a giving mom,” said the mother of four children. “I have been active in my community for many years and I love helping people who are in need. I am raising my children the same way.”

Deputy Chief Lauren Pogue thanked the recipients for their selflessness.

“I want you to know you are appreciated and that you are an inspiration to others,” she said. “Your incredible actions have earned you your respective awards. Your selflessness, quick thinking and willingness to help people in times of desperate need and your prompt actions in assisting police in apprehending suspects make all of us so proud.”

As a Toronto resident and Deputy Chief of Canada’s largest municipal service, Pogue was honoured to meet the recipients.

“It is extraordinary individuals like you who play a pivotal role in transforming a good city into a great city and who help make this great city an amazing place to live, work, play and worship,” she added.

A woman stands with a framed certificate between a police officer and a member of the Toronto Police Services Board
Mahlia Richie (middle) accepts her award from Deputy Chief Lauren Pogue and Toronto Police Services Board Vice Chair Lisa Kostakis Photo: Brent Smyth

Toronto Police Services Board Vice-Chair Lisa Kostakis said community members who have been instrumental in assisting police in keeping neighbourhoods safe should be commended.

“As we continue our journey of transformation, reimaging what community safety means to all of us, we are looking more than ever to our community to partner with in creating a safe, liveable and kind Toronto,” she said. “This is a particularly poignant event. As we honour and thank members of the community for their acts of selfless bravery, caring and compassion, we are reminded that there are many good people in our city, people who truly care and who are prepared to go the extra distance to demonstrate this.”

Kostakis noted that the honourees rose to the challenge and intervened to prevent a death or a crime or just simply to support a good cause.

“Through their quick thinking, their keen observations, their compassion and their persistence, they helped to capture suspects, solve crimes, assist people in need and even save lives,” she added. “Selfless and compassionate actions of individuals like the honourees contribute beyond measure to making Toronto the best and the safest city in the world. This is a city where people care about one another, genuinely and deeply.”

Other honourees were Heather Pleizier, Odene Green, James Themelkos, James Romano, Parvin Bahadori, Sasimoorthy Eswaramoorthy, Sourav Mukopadhay, Ashaque Rahman, Mittapalli Soumith, Nur Uddin, Mehrdad, L’Nay’ya Brooks, Omar Ahmed, Dylan Walchetseder, Jacob Meiss, Jacob McKenney, Alice Litherland, Kaitlyn Burwell, Anna Armstrong, Duncan Rowat, Victoria Miller, Justin Migchels, Bhagat Singh, Tremaine Blair, Dwayne Smart, Ali Ibrahim and Mark Malkovsky.

Special Constable Derek Anderson and Milena Music of the Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit were also recognized.



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