A group of 23 Division officers, who rescued a young child by the legs from falling from a three-storey window, were honoured with the Toronto Police Officer(s) of the Year Award on May 25.
They are Sgt. Brian James and Consts. Ramandeep Singh, Kwabena Saffu, Deanna Jovanovich and Nicholas Ditlof.
In June 2020, they responded to a person in crisis call at a residence.
When they arrived, they found a man dangling a crying child – later identified as his six-year-old son – out of the window. The boy’s grandmother had tried to help him before being punched and choked by her son. The boy managed to pull from his dad and hold onto an adjacent window ledge.
Firefighters assembled a safety tarp to catch the child if he dropped.
As the officers entered the room, the man jumped from the window, falling three storeys onto a driveway as his son dangled from a nearby window ledge. The officers ran to the window and were able to grab the boy’s arms and bring him to safety.
With assistance of other responding officers, the man was taken into custody and transported to a hospital for psychiatric treatment. He was later charged.
Since the incident, officers – who have been impacted by the call for help that day – have visited with the child and his family.
James, who is in his 26th year with the Service, credited excellent teamwork for the successful outcome.
“A lot of people did very real things,” said James. “There were three officers upstairs who were able to save the kid from falling out the window. There were other officers, who once the accused had jumped, who were able to arrest him.”
Each month, an officer or a group of officers is selected for Police Officer(s) of the Month, based on bravery, humanitarianism, superior investigative work and outstanding police skills.
The Police Officer(s) of the Year is selected by seasoned journalists, community and business members.
Two Toronto Police court officers were honoured with the Civilian Excellence Award for saving the life of a drug overdose victim.
On November 25, 2020 at around 2 a.m., Paul Hawke and Harrison Marshall were in a Prison Transportation vehicle heading to Traffic Services headquarters at 9 Hannah Ave. when they saw the victim in the middle of the roadway.
“We were going there from Scarborough because our vehicle needed to be out of service as the camera wasn’t working,” said Marshall. “When we got out of our vehicle, it was clear this was a classic sign of opioid overdose.”
Taking the Naloxone kit from his partner, Marshall delivered two doses to the victim and started to perform CPR.
“That seemed to work as he began to come around and that was when we took him to the side of the road so he wouldn’t be run over by an oncoming vehicle,” he noted. “EMS came a few minutes later and was able to provide the man with the proper help he needed.”
Prior to joining Toronto Police, Marshall worked with Correctional Services.
“In that role, I employed numerous amounts of Naloxone,” he added.
Hawke, who joined the Service 30 years ago, called EMS and acted as the lookout to ensure the area was safe while his partner delivered the Naloxone shots.
In 2009, a Business Excellence Award was established to honour exceptional Service members whose valuable contributions enable the organization to work effectively and efficiently.
A panel of business experts select the winner.
With funding from the provincial government to support the development of an online guide for human trafficking survivors and their families, the winning team developed a website that provides survivor-led material for individuals seeking assistance and support.
The team included Mark Jones, Scott Mackey and Katherine Ziebarth of Analytics & Innovation and D/Const. Jason Reynolds of the Sex Crimes – Human Trafficking Enforcement Team.
Given a year to roll out the website at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team overcame the hurdles with speed, efficiency and professionalism.
“It’s great to be recognized for the hard work and time put into this project,” said Reynolds who joined the Service 22 years ago. “The expertise of Mark, Scott and Katherine came out in a big way in terms of them getting the website in order and utilizing the input of survivors and advocates with respect to generating the content. It is just a great team achievement.”
Chief James Ramer told the award winners that their actions set a shining example for every Toronto Police Service member.
“Whether you are uniform or civilian, making a quick life-saving decision or spending long hours doing painstaking investigative work, you are the reason why Toronto is one of the best and safest cities in the world,” he said. “As you know, we are in policing at a time when working respectfully and collaboratively with each other and with our communities has never been more important.”
“Your steadfast commitment to teamwork, to going that extra mile to find solutions to the complex needs of our city, sometimes at risk to your own safety, makes volatile situations safe, provides comfort to victims and builds trust with our communities.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Jim Hart praised the honourees for going above and beyond the call of duty to enhance the Service’s proud tradition.
“Collectively, through their quick thinking, keen observations, compassion and persistence, they protected other officers and members of the public, created innovative processes, averted potential violence, helped the international community and saved lives,” he said. “They embody the Service’s core values, principles that the Service holds as paramount and, in so doing, they serve as heroes to Service members and community members alike.”
Hart also acknowledged the many Service members who are quietly doing their work without seeking recognition.
“You are dismantling gangs that threaten our neighbourhoods with violence and weapons, you are de-escalating people in crisis with incredible compassion and respect and you are removing dangerous drivers from our roadways,” he pointed out. “You are rescuing people with intent on ending their lives, perilously mounting overpasses and balconies to bring them down to safety, even when it jeopardizes your own.
“I know you are out there, on our streets and working behind the scenes each and every day, making our city safer, kinder and better. I know that you face great danger with selfless courage and deal with countless situations of chaos, sadness and risk with your trademark professionalism, care and dedication. You never ask for recognition. However, you deserve our recognition, you deserve our praise and you deserve our immense gratitude. Let me assure you that you have all three.”
Hart reminded the unsung officers that they are not just saving lives.
“You are changing lives,” he added. “You are reminding people daily that policing is not simply enforcement. It is serving and protecting all members of our communities in a way that is professional, innovative, strategic, compassionate, kind, proactive and equitable.”
The 55th annual awards ceremony took place at Hotel X.
“This is certainly a great night for policing,” said Toronto Police Association Chair Jon Reid. “The members here offer a glimpse into the work that happens every day in the city. De-escalating people in crisis, responding calmly in the face of danger, rendering first aid, working with other law enforcement and providing resources and support to the most vulnerable victims of crime are just a few to name.
“In all these situations, our members relied on their skills, experience and training to make our city a safer place. Without hesitation, they put their lives before others. In addition, through their actions, they clearly demonstrated what sets apart Toronto Police Service from other law enforcement agencies. Few other Services manage the breadth of issues, the complexities of crime and the diversity of a city the way we do. There are few other Services who invest in training, nurture skills and expertise and partner with government and community the way we do.”
Premier Doug Ford made a brief appearance at the ceremony.
“I have great respect for the men and women of Toronto Police Service who, every day, put themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities,” he said. “This evening, we recognize some of the finest women and men who have distinguished themselves. But the reality is every member of the Toronto Police Service deserves our respect and admiration.”
Information about Police Excellence Awards can be found at policeawards.ca.