Students Volunteer in Community Policing

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


22 Division

A group of Humber College students stepped up to volunteer in their community as they pursue a career in the criminal justice field.

A total of 37 new 22 Division Rover Crew members were invested on March 11 at the Toronto Police College.

So far this school year, in matter of four months, they volunteered at more than 15 events throughout the city and there are over a dozen more events planned in the coming weeks and months.

“Arriving here is an indication of your abilities, your resilience and your steadfast commitment to public service,” Acting Chief Lauren Pogue told the Rovers at the 21st annual Investiture ceremony. “Your role and active participation supports our Service in building and maintaining trust with the communities we serve.

“For some of you, this experience will launch you to other career paths in law enforcement, including positions as police officers, special constables, auxiliary officers and correctional officers. I know that you will continue to be guided by integrity and self-responsibility and that you will treat people with respect, equity and dignity throughout the course of your duties.”

Pogue expressed confidence that the Rovers will serve with professionalism, integrity and according to the Service’s core values.

“Your actions speak louder than words and you are appreciated,” she added. “There is no higher calling than serving others.”

Rovers volunteer in the community while pursuing post-secondary education and working full-time jobs.

A woman in a Rover uniform smiles in a lobby
Madison Iacovazzo hopes to work in forensic investigations one day Photo: Brent Smyth

 The 22 Division Rover Crew is a partnership between the Humber College Police Foundations two-year program, Scouts Canada and 22 Division to offer Police Foundations students a chance to volunteer with police through a Scouts program in order to gain experience and give back to their community.

Madison Iacovazzo is in her second year in Humber’s program.

“I have a passion for Forensics and want to get into policing to pursue that field,” she said. “The Rovers program has been great as it has given me the opportunity to volunteer in the community and meet police officers to learn about how they got where they are today. That has been a big motivation for me.”

A man in a Rover uniform smiles to the camera
Lucas Archdall is proud to have taken the first step towards a career in policing Photo: Brent Smyth

Kalan Barton-Best returned home to Canada after playing basketball at a U.S. college before deciding to pursue Police Foundations after meeting Toronto police officers.

“They took me under their wing and are mentors,” he said, of Sgt. Charles Zekeres and retired Sgt. Candace Paul. “I am also able to pick other officers brains and that has been quite an asset as I prepare for a career in policing. The Rovers program has also been huge for me as you meet people in the community and talk to them.”

Lucas Archdall has been in the Rovers program since last October.

“I have enjoyed the networking,” said the young entrepreneur who owns a landscaping business in Richmond Hill. “Through this program, I have been able to see that police officers are human and they care for people. Joining the program is one of the best things I have done in my life.”

Initially Natasha Portillo took a paralegal course after high school.

“I didn’t enjoy it and I think that had to do with me be a hands-on person,” she said. “After giving policing some thought, I realized that could be a career where I could use my skills to excel. Once I joined the Rover program, my questions were answered.”

Some of the Humber program college professors are retired or serving Toronto police officers.

“In relating their experiences, it makes it easier for our studies,” Portillo said. “They are very engaging and easy to get along with.”

She plans to pursue the University of Guelph-Humber’s Justice Studies two-year program before applying to Toronto Police.

A man smiles at the camera outside of the police college
Kalan Barton-Best is committed to joining the Toronto Police Service in the future Photo: Brent Smyth

Inspector Anthony Paoletta, the 22 Division Unit Commander, thanked the Rovers for their commitment to the community and dedication to scouting.

“The level of commitment, combined with the extensive training that each new Rover has received, will help prepare them to participate in and support key events within the community,” he said.  “Still, the desire to serve the community with respect and compassion within each new Rover will genuinely support the Toronto Police Service in building and maintaining trust with the communities we serve.”

The Service now has a complement of 65 Rovers who support special events in Toronto, such as the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other local events, such as bicycle rodeos and annual toy drives.

The Rover program is a unique and important pathway for Humber’s Police Foundations and Justice students to gain experience and connections in policing.

Nivedita Lane, Humber College’s Associate Dean of Justice Studies, thanked Scouts Canada and 22 Division for its support and mentorship of the long-standing initiative.

She told the TPS Rovers they should be incredibly proud to be invested.

“When I first learned of the program, what struck me was the incredible impact of the community outreach that happens in it,” Lane said. “We all know that community impact goes both ways in that you get as much as you give. As such, volunteering your time and energy in this initiative has had a great impact in our local communities while helping to develop your skills as you pursue a career in policing or community justice services.

“Research shows that volunteering for a cause or project you are passionate about will not only build skills but also boost your well-being and capacity to connect with others.”

In welcoming the Rovers, Scouts Canada Greater Toronto Council Commissioner Ashfaque Nalim said they are part of the world’s largest youth organization.

“You are not just a member of this group,” he added. “You are part of a big family of scouts in Canada and around the world.”

Rovers are the scouting designation for young men and women between the ages of 18 and 26.

A large group photo of all the Toronto Police Rovers, and the platform party of special guests in the front row
The Toronto Police Rover program, with the platform guests seated in the front Photo: Brent Smyth


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