Youth Program Inspired Police Constable
Constable Su-Jeong Lee started on a path towards policing after a spending a summer at 23 Division as part of the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program.
Just 14 at the time and unsure of a career path, she said the experience was amazing.
“I spent a lot of time with the Crime Analyst working on break-and-enter cases and helping her create a potential suspect portfolio,” said Lee, who was born and raised in the Jane & Finch community. “After going through that whole process, I knew I wanted to be a police officer. My parents wanted me to go the traditional route and become either a lawyer, doctor or something like that, but that was not going to happen after I passed through the YIPI program.”
The YIPI program allows young people to earn money while developing job skills and exposes them to policing by having them work alongside Toronto Police members over the summer or after-school in order .
Four years ago, she became the first female YIPI graduate from Toronto to become a uniformed officer.
After graduating from Northview Heights Secondary School, Lee took the advice of another officer she encountered while in the YIPI program.
“He told me to go to university and do what I enjoy,” said the University of Toronto graduate. “He said it didn’t necessarily have to do with anything that was police-related because the Service embraces members who are well-rounded.”
Lee majored in English & Philosophy and minored in Geography.
While in university, she took up a security job at Women’s College Hospital to prepare for a law enforcement career.
Balancing work and studies was challenging for Lee who was promoted to a supervisor role at age 22.
“I did an 8 to 4 at Women’s College and then ran over to U of T, which is nearby for the next five hours on campus,” she said. “It was hard, but the experience I gained in the security role was very enlightening and I enjoyed my studies.”
She completed her university degree after six years and applied to the Toronto Police Service in 2018.
“This is my city and I didn’t see myself going somewhere else,” Lee said. “I wanted to be in a place where I am familiar with and that is Toronto.”
Hired four years ago, she is assigned to 53 Division as a Primary Response Officer and also is a trained Scenes of Crimes Officer, who gather evidence at crime scenes such as a break-and-enters taking photographs and fingerprints.
“During the SOCO course that I completed two years ago, I found that I really enjoy taking photos and fingerprints,” she said. “Those things enhanced my investigative skills and I wanted to do more.”
Lee thanked her 53 Division supervisors, including Staff Sergeant Peter Henry, for providing opportunities for her to grow, including a 10-week assignment at Forensic Identification Services.
Lee enjoys policing Canada’s largest city.
“I never saw myself sitting behind a desk,” she pointed out. “I love to be on my feet. With policing, no two calls are the same and every day is a new day with something different.”
Since the YIPI program was launched in 2006, seven graduates have gone on to become TPS uniformed officers and another seven are filling civilian roles in the Service.
The Youth in Policing Program is currently accepting applications for their Fall after-school program.