Special Constables Follow Passion
Patrena Thomas has taken on a brand new role on the frontline of policing after working behind the scenes for over a decade.
After 14 years as a Monitor with Intelligence and the last six as a Communications Researcher, she is putting on a uniform in service of her city.
Thomas is among 59 Special Constables who received their badges on November 7 at Toronto Police College.
“After starting a family in the last few years, I decided now is the time to start a new chapter with Toronto Police,” said Thomas, one of three women in the class.
In becoming a Special Constable with an eye to becoming a police officer, she is on a path to make her parents proud.
“My late dad, who died when I was very young, wanted to be a cop and he didn’t get that opportunity,” the Seneca College Fashion Arts graduate said. “Mom had to raise seven of us after he passed away and she didn’t get the chance of getting into policing, which she desperately wanted. All of my siblings are in the medical field and I am in the only one that chose to be in a law enforcement.”
Thomas is deployed to 43 Division.
Special Constables serve in a variety of different roles, from managing the custody and transporation of prisoners at a police station or in a courthouse to working in the field doing crime scene management, canvassing and report-taking.
Adriana Carpanzano has always been interested in pursuing law enforcement.
“More than that, representing women and those who identify in the LGBTQ2S+ community are very important to me,” she said. “Those are huge for me.”
Carpanzano was a Parking Enforcement officer for two years before becoming a Special Constable.
“They helped me to learn more about the city and the community,” the former hospital security guard who is assigned to 51 Division said. “I really enjoyed those two years on the street as I got to meet a lot of great people and I got the opportunity to learn how to deal with community members and enhance my communication skills. I also met a lot of good people in the Service that helped me get where I am.”
For the first time in the Service’s history, the class combined Court Officers, Divisional Booking Officers and District Special Constables into a ‘generalist’ role.
“The amalgamation of these positions and the comprehensive training you have received will allow us to serve Torontonians with greater skill and knowledge than ever before,” said Chief James Ramer. “Although you have come from different places, have different backgrounds and education and speak different languages, you are alike in your compassion and have demonstrated a genuine commitment to your community. I have every confidence in your ability to serve with professionalism, with integrity and according to our core values.
“I know you will be guided by integrity and self-responsibility and that you will treat people with respect, equity and dignity. By doing so, you will support our Service in building and maintaining trust with the communities we serve.”
Ramer reminded them that performing their tasks in Canada’s largest city will not always be easy.
“It will be challenging, but rewarding,” said the Chief. “Remember your training. And always remember that the decisions you make reflect not just you as a person but on the Toronto Police Service, the family that will be here for you on the good days and the bad. Today is just the beginning and I know you will make a positive impact on your fellow members and the public. I know you are up to the job.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Jim Hart said the amalgamation of the Special Constable position and their comprehensive training remove previous barriers, allowing the recruits to serve Torontonians with greater skill and knowledge.
“These new members benefit the Service by creating more flexibility in deployment and operational considerations while streamlining administrative processes,” he said.
The class took part in a rigorous 13-week course that included academic, practical and dynamic scenario training.
Topics ranged from very practical, including report writing and crime scene management and administering Naloxone to broad-based such as mental health and addictions, guns and gangs and ethics and inclusivity.
Some of the graduates will assist in Divisions, supporting police officers in their work as well as managing prisoners. Others will work in Court Services, deployed to maintain security at courthouses and transporting prisoners.
“Each of these are vital roles, each of these are critical responsibilities, all of which contribute to the dynamic and complex work of the Toronto Police Service in ensuring that neighborhoods across the city are safe, that residents from every community are served and protected by our organization,” said Hart.
“Regardless of where you are placed and regardless of the responsibilities you take on, you will now form an important part of the matrix of community safety provided by the Toronto Police Service as you serve and protect residents in neighbourhoods across the city. You are part of a significant evolution in policing, a transformative and progressive approach that will enable us to respond to the community in a more effective and efficient way.”
Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, Franco Pasceri had been considering a career in law enforcement.
Working in the health & wellness sector, the personal trainer switched to carpentry during the lockdown.
“I was looking for something more stable and I decided to make that jump during the pandemic,” Pasceri said.
Starting in 14 Division, he is looking forward to the new role.
“I am excited because I am going to a Division I am very familiar with,” said Pasceri. “I am of Italian descent and I will be working in the heart of Little Italy where my grandmother resides. I will see how things go before deciding whether I want to be a uniformed police officer.”
Class Valedictorian Jermaine Alexander provided his classmates with some meaningful advice.
“I hope that each of you, when you look at your badge, remember not only how hard you have worked these last 13 weeks, but also the authority, duty, responsibility and trust that comes with it,” he said. “Moving forward in your new careers, I urge you to temper the power of your badge with humility, integrity, patience and respect because those qualities will enable you to serve the community better while representing the Toronto Police Service.
“Conduct yourselves with honour, remembering that your credibility and reputation are the most important assets that you possess. Let each action be driven by the desire to not only uphold, but also strengthen your reputation. If you lose your credibility and people cannot trust you, or if you give someone a reason to doubt you, what do you have at the end of the day? You are given the opportunity to create your reputation with every call you respond to, every report you write and every person you interact with.”
Awards were presented to Ryan Wong for attaining the Highest Academic Achievement mark of 98.75% and Hady Major and Danny Yousif who came out on top in the Physical Training High Performance and Physical Training Most Improved categories respectively.