Special Constables Step Into New Career
Sara Vollmerhausen followed her heart, her head and listened to her friends in the Toronto Police Service before pursuing her new career.
“The thought was always in my mind, but hearing what Toronto Police stands for and its values align with what I want to do long-term convinced me here is where I should be,” said Vollmerhausen, who was sworn in as a Special Constable on July 6 at the Toronto Police College.
Growing up, she aspired to be a Park Ranger.
“I love working outside,” said Vollmerhausen. “But then I decided to go a step further, because I enjoy engaging with the community. I could make much more of a difference in the city’s neighbourhoods than working in a park somewhere in a remote area.”
Graduating from York University with a Chemistry degree and Humber College with a Forensic Identification graduate certificate, she sees herself pursuing a forensics position later in her career.
“I like doing more of the hands-on of forensics like securing the scene and collecting evidence,” she said. “For the time being, I will use the extensive training I have received as a Special Constable to keep the city safe.”
Assigned to 51 Division, Vollmerhausen excelled during the training, winning awards for Highest Academic Achiever with a mark of 98% and the Highest Physical Fitness Performance.
In the late 1990s, Justin Alfred completed the Law & Security program at Humber College with the aim of becoming a police officer, but never attained the goal at the time.
He went on to have a 22-year career with Canada Post, including 13 years as a mail carrier.
“I just wanted a change and to be part of law enforcement,” said Alfred, who won the Leadership Award. “Also, I wanted to show my two children that anything is possible and you don’t have to stay comfortable in the space you are in.”
He will be training as a Court Officer at the Superior Court for a month before going to 14 Division where he will spend two months as a District Special Constable and Booker.
The Special Constable Generalist course combines Court Officers, Divisional Booking Officers and District Special Constables training so that new Special Constables can start in any role and move to different roles in the future.
They will do a wide range of work, from managing the custody and transportation of prisoners at a police station or in a courthouse to working in the field doing crime-scene management, canvassing and report-taking.
In welcoming the new class, Chief Myron Demkiw said they bring unique lived experiences and an invaluable wealth of knowledge that will help them excel in their new roles.
“You each represent your own communities and many of you bring fluency in multiple languages,” he said. “This is something we truly value as many of you will contribute to helping us serve Toronto’s diverse communities in their language of choice.”
They speak a range of languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and Italian.
This is the third class to be cross-trained in three Special Constable roles.
“You are part of a new era in policing,” Toronto Police Services Board Chair Ann Morgan told them. “The amalgamation of these positions along with the comprehensive training we have offered these recruits remove barriers that have existed in the past, allowing them to serve Torontonians with greater skill and enhanced knowledge.”
Morgan noted the extensive training the recruits received will be extremely useful in ensuring that communities across the city are safe.
“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,” Morgan said.
“Thank you so much for signing up for this vital role, for wanting to contribute so meaningfully and powerfully to making our communities safer and better. You signed up for something larger than yourself and for this, we all benefit. So today and for all the days you do your job with pride, with dedication and with honour, let me say to you and your families, thank you.”
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 topics 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.
Thomas Kinchsular captured the Most Improved Physical Fitness Honour while Hamidullah Najibullah, an Auxiliary member for a year at 32 Division, was the class valedictorian.
“We have supported each other and pushed one another to be better than most,” he said. “Each graduate carries a unique and valued mindset for being here today. They are some of the finest our profession has and I admire what they stand for as it reflects the values we represent – from service at our core to doing the right thing and connecting with compassion.”
Each TPS recruit class selects a charitable organization to support. The new class chose Covenant House Toronto that supports the city’s vulnerable youth by providing counselling services, safe housing and essential items.
The Chief was extremely pleased with this effort.
“I know that you have and will continue to give so much of yourself to this career and, because of this, it is vitally important not to forget about your own self-care,” added Demkiw. “I spoke to you earlier and I asked each of you to make a commitment to prioritizing your self-care and to looking after each other. I went a step further and asked you to formalize your commitment by signing a document that outlines ways in which you will do this.
“I am hopeful that this personal commitment will be one of the many steps that we take together to co-create an organizational culture that prioritizes your health, safety and well-being. Your health, your safety and your well-being are, and will always be your top priority.”
The other graduates were Adam Abdulsater, Harshdeep Aheer, Tyler Anderson, Christopher Angus, Zachary Clendinning, Faisal Ghaly, David Gheorghita, Benjamin Ibrahim, Darayus Irani, Tristan Jenkins-Roe, Rong Li, David Luc, Robert Newell, Joel Pateman, Stanko Pavic, Nicholas Reid, Amin Romani, Victor Sanzarevsky, Claudio Savone, Mario Sipione, Shannon Van Meggelen, Wajhat Ullah Siddiqui, Nilab Waziri, Matthew West, Omid Youssufi and Syed Zaidi.
The graduation was historic in that it marked the first time that uniform civilians wore the new No. 1 civilian uniforms.
Historically, Formal Dress No. 1 uniforms, intended to be worn as a symbol of honour for special occasions, were made available to uniform civilian members upon request and with approval.
In addition to Special Constables, Formal Dress will now be standard issue for uniform civilians, including Custodial and Parking Enforcement Officers, Document Servers, Station Duty Operators and Crime Scene Support Technicians.
“This gives uniform civilians the honour of wearing formal dress to mark important points in their career and important touch points with the community, including graduations, award ceremonies, funerals and community events,” said Cindy Grant, Acting Director of Finance & Business Management.
Learn more about becoming a Special Constable on our Careers webpage.