Teens Partner With Police
Grade 11 Don Mills Collegiate Institute student Aaron Anton wanted to line up something to do in the summer when he learned about the Toronto Police Service (TPS) Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program.
“I decided to give it a shot,” said Anton. “As I went through the interview process, I became aware of all the possibilities within the Service. Before that, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
He was among 155 YIPI students sworn in on July 4 for the 17th annual summer program that hires high school and university students between 15 and 18, who come from City of Toronto-designated Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and often struggle to find summer employment.
Anton plans to consider policing as a career.
“Last semester, I took a law course,” he said. “With that and the policing experience I am about to get, I will take a closer look at becoming a police officer because that is a job where you can truly make a difference.”
Doreen Muyobolce, 18, is excited to be part of the program.
“Policing is something I have been thinking about as a career and I am so happy to have been selected,” said the St. Joseph’s College School Grade 12 student. “I will try to get as much experience as I can over the summer that will prepare me to be an officer.”
Giuseppe Colonna, 17, graduated last month from Chaminade College School and is off to York University to pursue an undergraduate degree with the aim of getting a Bachelor of Education certification.
He was turned on to policing by watching 'The Rookie', an American police procedural drama TV show.
“I was really fascinated by that show,” Colonna said. “Since then, policing is something that I have considered as a career option. I want to get educated and teach for a while before I pursue my dream job that is policing.”
Chief Myron Demkiw told the participants they represent the future of Toronto.
“You will help shape our communities and find solutions to some of our toughest problems,” he pointed out. “At the Toronto Police Service, we support our young people and help build future leaders in neighbourhoods across Toronto.”
The students will work across 16 Divisions and various units within the Service.
“What you learn as part of this initiative will help you navigate the challenges of becoming a leader, promote better decision-making and equip you with the skills to prepare you for your chosen career” added Demkiw. “I should also mention that this program benefits not only the young people who take part in it, but the Toronto Police Service and the City of Toronto as a whole.
“As a police service, it gives us the opportunity to interact and learn from you and helps bridge the gap that sometimes exists between young people and the police. It allows us to build relationships with you while opening your eyes to the complex and exciting world of policing. Some of these relationships end up being long term.”
There are 31 YIPI alumni working the Service, including 16 who are uniformed members.
They include Adam Holness, Anthony Perkins and Gianluca Civichino who received their badges last month.
“As someone who was in your exact position 10 years ago, I can tell you that you truly have the best summer job a youth can have in this great city,” said Holness, who is assigned to 33 Division. “Like it was for me, for many of you it will be your first job and you are most likely going through various emotions such as nervousness, shyness and excitement. But I encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon your success. You only have once chance to be a YIPI, so make the best out of it.”
He offered the participants a few tips as they embark on the summer program.
“Come prepared and ready to learn, show up on time, be coachable, take on tasks and step out of your comfort zone, ask questions, build connections and remember to bring your access card every day,” he added. “As young people, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the world around you. Whether you are interested in becoming a police officer, a community leader or just someone who cares about making a positive impact, there is a place for you in the world of policing.”
Perkins, the youngest member of the last Police Constable graduating class at age 20, left Jamaica in 2007 at age five and was a YIPI member in 2019.
He encouraged the participants to use the program to learn and grow.
“You will never leave the way you came,” he said. “Ask questions, make connections and keep an open mind because your journey has just begun.”
Civichino graduated from the program eight years ago.
“I remember being so excited that I was able to work with the police service I always dreamed of being part of,” said the 41 Division officer. “I was able to get first-hand experience and participate in community activities such as removing graffiti, connecting with local food banks and networking with police officers at my assigned division.”
There were 600 applications for this year’s summer program.
Toronto Police Services Board member Nadine Spencer told the students they will be engaged in meaningful work this summer
“It is work that develops important employment and life skills while fostering hope and pride among our young people,” she said. “You will visit a number of Toronto Police Service facilities and participate in various fun and exciting community events, making powerful connections with the public. The benefits of the program are many. The opportunity to work in the Toronto Police Service for an extended period of time provides young people with direct knowledge of our organization and encourages them to consider policing as a career.”
Justin Ericksen, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, Toronto Regions Program Supervisor, said the YIPI initiative is one of his favourite programs because of the value it provides on many fronts.
“The program delivers real value that can shape the lives and the future of young people and it opens the doors to endless possibilities for our future generation,” he noted. “While this hybrid offering may be slightly different than programs of the past, participants still gain incredible experiences over this eight-week journey.”
Over 2,000 young people have graduated from the program.
“This program gives youth the opportunity to realize that your voice matters and that you possess limitless potential to make meaningful contributions to your community,” added Ericksen. “I am thrilled that despite the challenges the pandemic has placed on all of us that we could find a way to continue our partnership to provide life-changing opportunities to our young people through this incredible program.”
The students will earn $15.50 during the eight-week program.
In 2008, the program was permanently incorporated into the Ontario government’s list of youth programs. A year later, the Ministry of Children & Youth Services expanded its funding to the program to accommodate a 50 per cent increase in hires.
A YIPI after-school winter program was established in 2013.
To learn more, visit the Youth In Policing Initiative webpage here.