Retracing First Steps in Policing

11 Division
Deputy Chief Rick Stubbings and Staff Superintendent Bryce Evans re-visited the streets where they trace their law enforcement roots to in Canada three decades ago.

They did a walkabout in the Roncesvalles Ave. and Howard Park neighbourhood in 11 Division on June 12.

“It was our formative years,” said Stubbings. “It’s where we have a lot of fond memories and where we learned to develop as a police officers and how we relate to the community.”

The senior officers both retire at the end of the month.

Stubbings joined the Service in 1982 after serving as a cadet. He spent seven years at 11 Division where many others got their start at the time, including Chief Mark Saunders.

“This area has changed quite a bit,” he said. “Back in the day, it was a largely Eastern European and a simple type of environment. Now, there is more diversity and the shops are trendier.”

Stubbings said most of the arrests in his early days on the job were for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

“There was this one particular guy, Walter, who was nice and kind,” he said. “He, however, had a drinking problem. Every officer that worked at the Division during that era would have interacted with Walter, who was quite the character. When we arrested him and put him in a cell, he would sing for us. We took care of members of the community like that. They were vulnerable people. You treated them with respect and dignity.”

Two men in uniform walking along a sidewalk with shops
Acting Deputy Chief Rick Stubbings and Constable Mathew Abramovitz talk about policing Roncesvalles Ave. Photo: Ron Fanfair

He said being a police officer is about building trust, whether with shopowners or people who commit petty crimes in the area.

“It is all about relationships and respect. You can rely on the community and they can rely on you just as equally,” he said.

Introduced to policing as a teenager, while playing hockey with a group of guys who he didn’t initially know were 31 Division officers, Stubbings said he has had a fulfilling career.

“I always wanted to leave feeling just as enthusiastic as the first day I joined 35 years ago,” he said. “The time has come for me to turn things over to the younger generation.”

Evans joined the Service in 1980 after spending two years with the Atlanta Police department.

“Toronto is a big city and when I looked around, I realized this was a place with more opportunities to grow in law enforcement,” he said. “As a young recruit I spent a lot of time in this neighbourhood.”

Constables Mathew Abramovitz and Neil Murray accompanied the senior officers on the walkabout.

“It’s nice doing this with the senior officers who are on their way out,” said Murray, who has spent all 10 years of his service in the Division. “We got to hear some real interesting stories from them about their time doing this beat.”

Abramovitz enjoys working in the Division.

“I have been here for 11 years and relish every day coming out here,” he said. “Deputy Chief Stubbings and Staff Superintendent Evans laid the foundation for us and we are glad to have taken over from where they left off.”

Stubbings and Evans, along with Staff Inspector Mike Earl who worked at 11 Division with them in the early 1980s, retire on June 30.

“There were a lot of great police officers out there at the time and we all elevated our game because of that,” said Stubbings, who remembers Earl as having a photographic memory for details about suspect descriptions. “Meeting the officers that we went out with today, you know we’re in good shape going forward. They’re smart, young people and they’re really engaged in the community.”

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