YIPI Graduates Grateful for Summer with Toronto Police

By Ron Fanfair

Ron Fanfair


Growing up in Toronto and having a strong sense of community fueled Daniel Betita’s desire to be a positive societal contributor.

It also stimulated his interest in policing in Canada’s largest city.

Completing the eight-week Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program reinforced Betita’s aspiration to be a cop.

“The YIPI program is more than just a program,” he said in his valedictorian address at the graduation ceremony at the Toronto Police College on August 25. “It has woven values, life skills and a sense of camaraderie deep within us. It has not just equipped us with practical skills, but also armed us with the fortitude to face challenges head-on with a resolve that is unshakeable. Now we stand on the precipice of a future, brimming with potential, ready to harness the wisdom and experiences gleaned through YIPI.

“United, we are all self-possessed to paint our community with positive change, living out the ethos captured by the very ‘I’ in YIPI. Let us journey forward, not as mere participants, but as ambassadors of empowerment, driving transformation and embracing the challenges that lie ahead.”

The St. Joan of Arc Catholic Academy graduate will enter the University of Toronto next month to pursue Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies.

A total of 153 students finished the YIPI program this summer. 

By completing the program, Chief Myron Demkiw said the participants demonstrated a commitment to hard work and achieving goals.

“When you come from different places and have different backgrounds, you are alike in your dedication to this unique learning opportunity where you meet many new people and become part of an incredible team,” he said. 

“At the Toronto Police Service, we support our young people and help build strong leaders in neighbourhoods across our great city. That is why for 17 years, the Youth in Policing Initiative has been equipping young people like yourselves with the leadership skills and work experience you will need to succeed.”

Chief of police clapping at a podium
Chief Myron Demkiw applauds the YIPI graduates during his speech Photo: Brent Smyth

Having spent the last eight weeks with the Service, Demkiw hopes the students gained a positive outlook and confidence in addition to experience that they can take back to their communities.

“It has been a pleasure to build relationships with our future leaders and community ambassadors while opening your eyes to the complex and exciting world of policing,” he told the graduates. “Thank you for your commitment to the Toronto Police Service. We hope you have grown from this experience.”

The other valedictorians were Noah Getahun and Bhavakeshan Jayakkumar.

“The heart of this program lies in the kindness and co-operation that flowed between us,” said Jayakkumar who is a Grade 11 student at RH King Academy. “From cruiser rides across the city to detailed instructions on how to get certain tasks done and  sharing sweets and treats with us, these small acts of kindness showed that we were not just participants in a program, but we were a community. As I stand before you, I can’t help but acknowledge that each of our experiences has been unique.”

Getahun’s first day at 41 Division was memorable.

“I was in the boardroom waiting to do a ride along with an officer when he got a call and left in a hurry,” recalled the Joan of Arc Catholic graduate who is enrolled in Toronto Metropolitan University’s Mechanical Engineering degree program. “When he came back and we were on our way, I learnt that the officer was married with children. That hit me. When he got the call for unknown trouble, he never thought twice about his own safety. He just wanted to get out there and help someone. That elevated my respect for officers who risk their lives daily trying to protect us.”

On behalf of the graduates, Getahun thanked program co-ordinator Melva Radway and her assistants for helping them navigate their placements.

“The countless emails and questions we threw their way might have seemed endless,” he added. “But their dedication and unwavering support showed us that we were more than just participants in a program. We were part of a family, united by the shared goal of growth and discovery.”

Student speaking at a podium
Valedictorian Noah Getahun speaks at the graduation Photo: Brent Smyth

Toronto Police Services Board Chair Nadine Spencer thanked the young people for their participation in the program.

“The opportunity to learn and grow is mutual,” she pointed out. “Not only do young people gain exposure to the world of policing, but Service members too have the opportunity to learn from youth from a rich variety of backgrounds, to understand their lives, to hear their ideas, their insights and their hopes.”

Spencer is confident the experience will forever change the participants.

“Remember the lessons that you have learned here, both the skills and abilities that you have been taught as well as the key principles and values like teamwork, integrity, community focus and respect that are a part of all that we do,” she added. “We are proud of you, our future community leaders and will be excitedly watching where this experience takes you in the years to come.”

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services partner with TPS on the program.

Program Supervisor Justin Ericksen thanked the Divisions and officers that mentored the graduates, and family and friends who supported the participants.

“You should all feel a sense of pride and joy today,” he noted. “Your presence today is a testament to your commitment to the graduates.”

Ericksen reminded the graduates they were selected based on their individual skills and abilities.

“Throughout the summer, you have demonstrated your commitment to your community,” he said. “You earned a unique perspective into the complexity and variety of police work and I hope that it strengthened your appreciation for the police service.”

Deepika Chandrashekar sang the national anthem while Naswan Zaiyyan and Erica Jatto performed musical pieces.

During the summer program, participants between the ages of 15 and 18 were exposed to a diverse range of roles and responsibilities.

Students assigned to 13 and 53 Divisions assisted with the collection and delivery of canned goods and other items to the food bank, 43 Division students attended a Tim Hortons camp, 22 and 33 Division students took part in their Division’s Open Houses while others visited the Marine and Mounted Units.

Nearly 130 graduates completed their First Aid Certification.

Group of students talking
YIPI graduates celebrate after the graduation ends Photo: Brent Smyth

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