The Dispatch Magazine Winter 2024

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THE

DISPATCH A biannual publication for the Police Association of Ontario’s over 28,000 sworn and civilian police personnel throughout the province

WINTER 2024 ISSUE #88


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WINTER 2024


CONTENTS

On the cover: South Simcoe Police Association President Leah Thomas reflects on the past year since the tragic deaths of Constables Devon Northrup and Morgan Russell.

DEPARTMENTS 5

Message from the President

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Since We Last Spoke

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Events

32 Police Hero Award Finalists

PUBLIC POLICY

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PAO Staff President: Mark Baxter

18 Solicitor General Michael Kerzner A message from Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General of Ontario, about how our government is supporting our members.

Executive Director: Tyler Callaghan Communications Specialist: Heather Hogan

20 Lobby Day

Counsel: Michael Duffy

BY MICHAEL DUFFY

Have a closer look at our provincial member priorities coming out of Lobby Day.

Events and Member Services Manager: Ashley Bain

OUR PEOPLE 10 Association Spotlight: South Simcoe Police Association

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BY HEATHER HOGAN

President Leah Thomas reflects on the past year since the tragic deaths of Constables Devon Northrup and Morgan Russell.

Magazine Team Editor: Heather Hogan

Designer: Stefan Lehmann Advertising Sales: IMarketing

PAO Board of Directors

BY HEATHER HOGAN

Son follows his father’s footsteps and becomes a police officer.

President: Mark Baxter (Brantford) Chair: Tim Reparon (Waterloo Regional)

14 Civilian Member Spotlight: Cindy Mitchell, London Police Association

Uniform Directors: Cameron Gough (Kingston) Colin Woods (Thunder Bay) Matt Jotham (Guelph) Mike Adair (OPPA)

BY HEATHER HOGAN

The Payroll and Benefits Supervisor builds bridges between the members and management.

Civilian Directors: Anne Brennan-Walsh (Belleville) Jim Mulligan (Hamilton)

FEATURES

The Dispatch is the official magazine of the Police Association of Ontario. Serving the PAO’s member associations and its individual sworn and civilian members, we strive to inform and connect our audience.

24 Sworn Member Spotlight: Constable Tanka Awosika, Thunder Bay Police Association BY HEATHER HOGAN

28 Beyond the Blue Gala

Executive Assistant: Annika Vassallo

Copy Editor: Sibernie James

12 Sworn Member Spotlight: Constables Neil and Tyler Moulton, Guelph Police and Brantford Police Associations

Constable Tanka Awosika makes a difference in the lives of youth in his community.

- Juliana Silva

The Dispatch WINTER 2024 Facebook: PoliceAssociationofOntario Twitter/X: PoliceAssocON LinkedIn: Police Association of Ontario Email: communications@pao.ca General Inquiries: 416-487-9367 Advertising Inquries: 1-800-210-8579 Ext. 8007

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BY SCOTT MILLS

Members and police partners were recognized for championing change in mental health and wellness initiatives for a safer workplace. 30 Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial BY HEATHER HOGAN

Our members pay tribute to eight colleagues we’ve lost this past year. THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

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WINTER 2024


MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

T

he Police Association of Ontario prioritizes our members’ mental health and wellbeing. Given that our members are overexposed to trauma daily, the need to prioritize member wellness and mental health has never been more critical. This is particularly important following a year marked by an unprecedented number of officers killed in the line of duty and those who died by suicide. Ensuring we all work collaboratively to reduce the stigma around mental health has never been more important. Many of our members and I, especially those with the Hamilton Police Association, were shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of Constable Greg Mills in September. Our members not only have to deal with the stress and mental anguish of the difficult calls they respond to and the dangerous situations they walk into — they also grieve the deaths of their colleagues. Although employee wellness is primarily the employer’s responsibility, in this issue of The Dispatch, you will read about an incredible not-for-profit organization supporting our members and their families to get them through their darkest days (pages 28 to 29). On October 10, World Mental Health Day, I wrote an op-ed in the Hamilton Spectator highlighting the harmful policies in place in many police workplaces that stigmatize workers who choose to prioritize their mental health and well-being. I stated that senior commanders and human resources managers in every police service in Ontario play a critical role in helping members navigate the WSIB process – a process that lets first responders quickly access WSIB benefits by presuming that mental health injuries are work-related. Given the challenges around access to mental health support and the stigma that continues to exist within our police workplaces, we made advocating for changes a top priority at our 24th annual Lobby Day at Queen’s Park.

This included calling for legislative changes that will provide members with a clearer support path from WSIB when mental health issues require members to file a claim with the WSIB. Our local association executive members play a crucial role in the success of our important work in making our association an effective advocate for police personnel across the province, and this year was no different. We’ve asked the Province to amend the timeline for mental health claims so our members can quickly get the help they need and also to amend Section 14 of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act so that presuming work-relatedness when diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder also presumes loss of earnings due to inevitable absences (pages 20 to 22). On September 25, we added eight names to the Honour Roll tablets on Parliament Hill at the 46th Annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa. The memorial service occurred only two days after the on-duty killing of Maple Ridge RCMP Constable Rick O’Brien in Coquitlam, B.C. – a poignant reminder of the daily risks our members undertake. In this issue, we ask President Leah Thomas from the South Simcoe Police Association how her members are coping with the loss of Constable Devon Northrup and Constable Morgan Russell after they were fatally shot last year (pages 10 to 11). As members who experienced a profound loss, they still need our support, and we are committed to supporting all members grieving the tragic loss of their colleagues. As we continue to deal with the grief we have experienced this year, remember that you are never alone; you are part of a police personnel family exceeding 28,000 strong, advocating on your behalf and working to reduce the stigma. If you or someone you know is struggling, please contact your local association, and they will ensure you receive the assistance you need or visit pao.ca/MentalHealth.

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With the Community Safety and Policing Act (CSPA) coming into force on April 1, 2024, the PAO is working with our policing partners and government stakeholders in Ontario to ensure that the Act and its associated regulations are known, shared, and discussed. Your local will update you on recognition, education, budget arbitration, oversight, and governance. Also, read about our exceptional members, Police Hero of the Year Service Awards Finalists, on pages 33 to 34, hosted in October by the Windsor Police Association and then the Hamilton Police Association. In 2024, the PAO will continue to build a space that allows our members to thrive by providing critical education around implementing the new Act and advocating for our members’ safety and well-being so they may continue to serve their communities. In Unity,

Mark Baxter

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SINCE WE LAST SPOKE

PAO’s Board of Directors on Lobby Day.

Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial, Ottawa.

AUGUST

Sept. 22 New Ontario Minister of Labour

Aug. 21-23 PAO attend the 2023 Association of Municipalities Conference More than 2,500 stakeholders gathered in London to take part in the conference.

SEPTEMBER Sept. 5 Remembering Constable Orrette Robinson – Sault Ste. Marie We were deeply saddened by the news out of Sault Ste. Marie that Constable Orrette Robinson was killed in a motor vehicle collision while driving home. We offered our condolences to the loved ones and members of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Association.

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Sept. 14 London Police Association’s Rick Robson Awarded with the Association Leadership Award at Beyond the Blue Gala Congratulations to Rick and all the Champions of Change for the great work you do to advance mental health.

Sept. 20 Members ride 688 km to Ottawa to raise money for fallen peace officers The Ride to Remember has grown to a four-day journey from the Ontario Police College in Aylmer.

Sept. 21 Members kick off the Run to Remember at the Ontario Police Memorial at Queen’s Park An emotional and inspiring morning marked the start of the Run to Remember as many of our members began the 460 km trek to Parliament Hill at the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial.

PAO welcomed Ontario’s new Minister of Labour, the Honourable David Piccini.

Sept. 25 Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial, Ottawa Thousands of police personnel from across Canada, including our Ontario members, participated in a solemn march to Parliament Hill for the 46th Annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa to honour the eight colleagues we lost this past year.

Sept. 27 Hamilton Police Association miss their friend and colleague, Constable Greg Mills Hamilton Police Association suffered an immense loss of Constable Greg Mills. This is a reminder to members to lean on each other and access the mental health resources that are available to you.

OCTOBER Oct. 3 PAO honours Police Service Hero Award Finalists in Windsor Congratulations to Retired Constable Terry Dodich, Constable Jeffrey Loewen, and Sergeant Nathan Harris for their outstanding service to their community.

Oct. 4 Members say goodbye to RMCP Constable Rick O’Brien Members attended regimental service for Ridge Meadows RCMP Constable Rick O’Brien in British Columbia.

Oct. 12-14 Civilian Conference Advisory Council Presidents’ Meeting in Niagara Falls Hosted by the Niagara Police Association, the PAO held its annual Civilian Conference. Our civilian members go above and beyond to tirelessly serve all our police personnel members. Association Presidents

WINTER 2024


SINCE WE LAST SPOKE

Run to Remember.

met to discuss pressing issues and provide updates pertinent to our members.

Oct. 27 PAO honours Police Service Hero Award Recipients in Hamilton We recognized three outstanding 2023 Police Hero Award recipients from the Hamilton Police Association: Special Constable Supervisor Hannah Demik, Constable Robert Lawther, and Constable James Durka.

Ontario Provincial Police Association Members at the regimental service for Ridge Meadows RCMP Constable Rick O’Brien in British Columbia.

York Regional Police Association Members outside of Queen’s Park on Lobby Day.

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Nov. 10 President Mark Baxter recognized by the Three Strohm Sisters Foundation President Mark Baxter was recognized for championing mental health for his members at the Three Strohm Sisters’ Annual Law Enforcement Partnership Fund Gala in New York.

Nov. 14-16 PAO hosts 24th annual fall membership meeting and Lobby Day To represent a strong voice for our police personnel and community safety across the province, 45 member associations attended 75 meetings with elected officials at Queens Park.

Dec. 5-6 Members attend bargaining workshop As we head into a crucial year of bargaining, a respected veteran in policing labour relations, Bill Cole, led our members in a specially designed workshop to guide members through the process.

UPCOMING EVENTS JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MAY

JUNE

Jan. 23 - 24, 2024 Winter Membership Meeting

Feb. 14 - 16, 2024 Executive Member Workshop

May 28 - 31, 2024 Annual Meeting and Special Meeting

June 24, 2024 3rd Annual PAO Charity Golf Tournament

Feb. 26 - 28, 2024 2024 Employment Conference and CSPA Summit THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

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ASSOCIATION SPOTLIGHT

Grief Has No Time Limit, Members Need Consistent Psychological Support By Leah Thomas, President, South Simcoe Police Association

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t’s hard to believe that it has been over one year since Morgan and Devon were killed in the line of duty. It’s been a tough year for many people within our Association, Service, and communities as a whole. Traumatic grief is different for everyone, and what I have learned over the last year is that there is no timeline for dealing with such trauma – it’s as individual and unique as a person’s fingerprint. Immediately after learning that two of my colleagues (and friends) were involved in a shooting, my initial reaction was that of shock. How could something so horrific occur in our small family? I knew I had to get to the hospital and be there for our members. As I was informed when each passed away, I realized that I had to be stoic and strong for our members. In many instances, I was the person who broke the news to them. They were falling and needed someone to catch them and help lead them through this grave tragedy. The

Constable Morgan Russell Constable Morgan Russell

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first few days and weeks following their deaths, I was in autopilot mode, going through the motions and helping people. I did not have time to grieve or even think of my own well-being. As the Association President, people looked to me for help and guidance through these uncharted waters. Other members of our Association Executive also rose to the occasion and were there to support our members. Some members immediately needed to take time off work to process their grief. Many approached our Executive Members they felt comfortable with to assist them with the paperwork. The paperwork from WSIB is not reflective of psychological trauma, which made it difficult for someone struggling psychologically to complete it entirely. This was the first of numerous obstacles members faced to satisfy WSIB’s requests. The forms are geared toward physical ailments, leaving many sections blank. We helped them through the initial leave process and their eventual

Constable Devon Northrup WINTER 2024


South Simcoe Police Service at the Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa. return-to-work process. Other members did not take time off right away because they felt the best way to process their trauma and grief was to be at work. A small subgroup sought psychological help during this time to help them work through everything. Others did not receive any form of help and are struggling to this day with the trauma. There is still the stigma that first responders are infallible and need to be strong, and devoid of any emotion. There is also a mentality that it has been over a year since Morgan and Devon died, and it’s time to move on. This is very disheartening to hear because it plays into the old “tough it out” culture that fuels negative mental health stigmas. As for myself, I am only now able to process the trauma that I experienced over one year ago. The six-month WSIB presumption clause does not work for many first responders and people like me who are only now coming to grips with our grief. During the past year, people were afraid to talk about Morgan or Devon for fear of upsetting someone grieving or struggling in silence. We should all be allowed to grieve in our own way without any expiry dates associated with it. Sometimes our roles dictate how and when we can grieve. I could not deal with losing Morgan and Devon for a very long time. I struggled in silence. Over time, the hurt has lessened, but the grief is still very present. Many, like me, will experience this grief every day for the rest of our lives. Coming into work every day to see their photos everywhere and the desks they sat at brings a flood of emo-

THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

tions. Some days, those emotions make me smile, while other days, the feelings are overwhelming and reduce me to a puddle. There is no telling how grief will affect a person on any given day. I like to talk about them to keep their memory alive. I need to hear their names positively and not just in the horrific way they were taken from us. Hopefully, this small act of opening the lines of communication regarding grief will help reduce mental health stigmas in the workplace. As an Association Executive, we supported our members’ needs when tragedy struck us. There was an outpouring of support from other services in the immediate aftermath, and for that, we are eternally grateful. As time passed, the supports slowly decreased to a point where they are no longer available. Members don’t have access to the same resources they had a year ago. We are still very committed to our members and will continue to help them along their journey as they process or work through their grief. The trauma we all experienced last October will never be forgotten. Some members are still struggling with the grief, and it is reasonable to believe that it may continue for years to come. We are building a culture with our recruits and members that supports member well-being and open lines of communication where it would be okay to say, “I am not okay.” We will continue to assist our members in accessing support. However, access to psychological assistance needs to be more consistent, streamlined, and easier to navigate.

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SWORN MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Like Father, Like Son Constable Neil Moulton Guelph Police Association

Constable Tyler Moulton Brantford Police Association

By Heather Hogan

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onstable Neil Moulton, part of the Canine Unit with the Guelph Police Service, presented his son, Tyler, a new police recruit with the Brantford Police Service, with his badge. An honour given to him by Brantford Police Service’s Chief Rob Davis.

The Chief called his name, and Tyler Moulton marched to his father. Tyler and Neil saluted and shook hands. Happy tears welled up in Neil’s eyes. He said it felt like just yesterday, 24 years ago, when his son was at his badge ceremony; he remembers Tyler trying his hat on and how big it was for him then. Now, Tyler has a badge of his own. Neil is less than a year away from retiring and was surprised that the Chief called him to address the new recruits. “I went up, and I said you got to look out for each other, and you’ve got to look out for your family. You must be mindful that your family is also taking this job on with you.” Tyler, following in his father’s foot-

steps, worked at the Ministry of Correctional Services as a Correctional Officer before being recruited to work for a police service. Neil says, “I must have done something right, and I couldn’t feel more proud.”

The Son’s Policing Journey Begins Tyler’s journey to becoming a police officer began as a small child, growing up with his younger brother, Cameron. Being part of a policing family meant they knew their dad went to work to keep people safe. It’s also a job that affects the whole family. It’s no surprise to Tyler that police workplaces put significant demands on an officer – stress can come from ongoing exposure to trauma and critical incidents, interrupted sleep, the physical and time demands of the job, and more. However, this did not deter Tyler from wanting to serve. “Growing up, I always knew policing was what I wanted to do,” says Tyler. “Just looking up to my dad, I knew that that was a field I always wanted to explore.” After completing his Police Foundations at Fanshawe College, he headed west to Banff, Alberta, to work at a ski resort. His brother Cameron soon followed his brother in Police Foundations and went out west, too. Tyler wanted to gain life experiences, including travelling the world to Central America, to find himself.

The Father Reflects on How Policing Has Changed

Constable Neil Moulton

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Neil reflects that life is different than it was 30 years ago. “When you left school, you went out and got a job, you bought a house, you got married,” he says. But he raised his sons to make their

Constable Tyler Moulton own decisions, steer their own path and follow their dreams. And that is exactly what Tyler did. Tyler enjoyed living out west for a few years until 2019 but realized it was time to return home to his original dream of becoming a police officer. He started to plan and act methodically to get hired by a police service. He began by taking university courses to get an edge in recruitment. Following this, his father picked him up in Alberta, and they road-tripped it back to Ontario. Neil asked Tyler if he was set on what he wanted to do. He wanted Tyler to be sure that policing was the road he wanted to go down. He said, “Buddy, your mom and I will support you. But policing is changing. Like, the whole world is changing. Are you sure you don’t want to be a firefighter? Everybody loves a firefighter.” Neil was describing how the culture towards people’s reception of the police has changed. Following the death WINTER 2024


This is a sensitive, sore spot for Neil. Tyler knew that making a call to his dad about his car accident might stir up some emotions. Constable Kovach’s funeral was the first police funeral Tyler had attended. He is acutely aware that policing comes with risks.

The Father Embraces Retirement, The Son Carries on His Policing Legacy

of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, anti-racism, violence, and police protests gained traction across the world, including Canada, as did calls to “defund the police.”

The Son Joins the Brantford Police Service “I don’t know if it’s from growing up playing sports or just how my parents raised me, but when I set my sights on something, especially with something that I plan on doing for the rest of my life, I have a no-quit mentality,” says Tyler. “I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Policing was what I wanted.” Tyler went through the application process, which was tough and competitive. He didn’t get accepted everywhere he applied, and it took time. But he found his fit with the Brantford Police Service. He completed police college, got married and had a daughter, all within a short period. “I wanted kids, and I wanted a family at some point, and I wanted to be able to give them what my parents were able to give me,” says Tyler. “Growing up in a policing family, I also saw all the bonds and friendships and camaraderie that my dad had. Like, we grew up around police officers. I got to see those bonds outside of work that my dad had with people at work, and I’ve never had that in any other job.” Tyler describes his father as very open and honest – not sugarcoating the profession. But his father protected his fam-

ily from the unspoken – the hard stuff. After being sworn in, completing training at the Ontario Police College, and a three-month ride along with a coach officer at the service, Tyler was out on his own in the fall of 2023. He appreciates his father even more now that he is in the field.

My Kid is a Cop, He’s a Man, But Still My Kid “I still refer to Tyler and Cameron as my kids,” says Neil. “Guys at work will ask, so what’s Tyler doing? I’d say my kid’s a cop now, working in Brantford. They say, well, he’s a man. He’s not a kid anymore. But I still refer to him many times as a kid because he’s still my kid, but he’s a man.” It’s now dawned on Neil that ‘his kid’ is now responsible for helping people and making a difference in their lives – just like him. It hit home for Neil and his wife of thirty years, Kim, when they got a terrible call. While on duty, Tyler was involved in a collision going through an intersection. He had the right of way, and a car ran the red light and t-boned the car beside him, which then struck his vehicle. Luckily, he walked away unscathed. “It hit me especially hard,” says Neil. “I was on the scene when Constable Jennifer Kovach, a 26-year-old officer from the Guelph Police Service, lost her life in 2013 due to an incident involving a transit bus. She died in my arms.”

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Tyler recalls his father saying that it was important for him and his brother to understand the reality of policing and that it is dangerous. Tyler advises anyone getting into policing to have their “core people in line beforehand. People you know that you’re going to be able to talk to in and out of policing, along with your teammates you work alongside with.” His dad is one of Tyler’s core people. Neil remembers his son calling him excitedly telling him what he got to do that day. His enthusiasm, energy, and gumption linger in Neil’s memory. While he still has a deep love for his work, particularly in the Canine Unit, Neil believes it’s time to embrace retirement after 24 years of dedicated service. Neil jokes that navigating and leaping over obstacles, especially fences, is becoming a bit challenging at the age of 58. When Tyler was out on the road with his coach officer for three months before being on his own, he said he prepared him well. He also leans on his teammates to show him the ropes. But now that he’s out on his own, he enjoys making his own decisions, taking a call, leading his own investigation, because he feels well prepared. “I love that factor. So as sad as it was, not having my coach with me, being out on my own and doing my own thing is a lot of fun,” says Tyler. Right now, Tyler is focused on patrol, learning, and growing. He is hopeful about the future because there are many opportunities and specialty areas in policing. He can’t wait. And he also cannot stop smiling.

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CIVILIAN MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Cindy Mitchell: Building Bridges Cindy Mitchell London Police Association By Heather Hogan

M

eet Cindy Mitchell, a Payroll and Benefits Supervisor for the London Police Service who has been with the organization for an impressive 26 years. Having served on the London Police Association Board as a Civilian Director for six years, she is also currently the Co-Chair of the Job Evaluation Committee. Over the years, her background and expertise in payroll and pensions expanded to include member benefits. As a civilian transitioning into a paramilitary working environment, navigating the chain of command along the two collective member working agreements for civilians and sworn officers was a learning curve. Wading through collective agreements in practice can be complex, especially when your role fluctuates between employee and management. Cindy stresses the importance of being as detailed and specific as possible when developing a collective agreement because the document’s language can be open to varied interpretations. Cindy is ‘all fairness’ in her work. She emphasizes the need to grasp the original intent in the collective agreement. Understanding the intent means you can apply a fair and consistent approach across the organization when drafting future collective agreements.

Association Hat or Management Hat? Both. To the bargaining table, Cindy brings a wealth of knowledge and does

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not shy away from making hard decisions, even when she’s on the receiving end of enforcing the agreement. For instance, she recently had a member who thought they would be entitled to a day off related to court time credits they earned, but their supervisor disagreed. Cindy’s open-door policy allowed her to sit down with the member and take the time to sift through the language in the working agreement. “In this case, I went through the agreement and asked myself, is there some history that can substantiate one way or another? I determined that the employee was correct and was entitled to time off. The supervisor was incorrect. Applying the working collective agreement this way would set a precedent for similar cases in the future.” Cindy describes that she often puts her ‘union hat on at work,’ which benefits her fellow members. “I’ve always come from the angle of what’s right, what’s the right answer. Whether it sides with management or whether it sides with the association, what is the right answer, and how do we apply this fairly, based on the intent?” From Cindy’s point of view, if the members and management are working to find the right answer and both want to do what’s right, there should be no conflict. “For me, whether I have an Association hat on or a management hat on, sometimes the answer isn’t favourable to the member, but it’s the correct answer. So, it’s about managing their expectations, ensuring we’re executing the working agreement the way it was meant to be performed – fairly and accurately.”

A Bridge Over Troubled Communication Waters Cindy is a bridge between management and members. She listens to both sides and provides context to each situation to reach a commonground resolution. When it comes down to it, effective communication can affect the narrative. Collaborative conversations are a must. For example, when she hears a viewpoint from a supervisor or senior officer, she puts on her Association hat and asks, “Have you thought about this perspective? Have you thought about this angle from the perspective of the member? And is this the intent that you want? Is this the right decision, or does the decision need to be massaged a little bit so that it meets both the needs of the organization and the needs of the member?” Cindy cares about her members. WINTER 2024


Using her service role on the Association board, she builds bridges between members and senior management. “I want to help our members by serving as a sounding board, guiding them through the next steps, validating their experiences, and clarifying our processes.” In 2020, during the pandemic, Cindy recalls it was a chaotic time for management to navigate working from home and set parameters for some employees while telling others that working from home was not an option because they were frontline. She often heard from scared and vulnerable civilian members with health issues who had trouble following the organization’s work-from-home policy, because it contradicted or did not align with their direct supervisor’s actions. Cindy consulted the Deputy Chief to align policies with actions so these members could successfully work from home. In this case, she says, “I feel sometimes management’s vision is clear, but the message gets blurred along the way as it goes down to the frontline.” During this tumultuous time, she supported her civilian members by explaining the intent of the work policy and assuring them it would be implemented fairly and accurately.

Job Evaluation Committee Co-Chair for London Police Association The Job Evaluation Committee has equal service and Association representation to evaluate job descriptions and pay jointly. In February 2021, the London Police Service and Gallagher, an insurance brokerage, risk management and consultation firm, began evaluating jobs to assess and update job roles. Updating job descriptions is key to keeping current with the policing sector. It’s one way to ensure members’ pay and job descriptions accurately reflect their work.

Equity and Fairness in Job Evaluations Cindy ensures equity and fairness in job evaluations from the Association’s perspective. Consistently evaluating

all the jobs across the organization also enables members to receive fair compensation and recognition for their work. For example, in this recent round of evaluations, Cindy describes how the psychological aspect of a member’s position is now considered in evaluating a job. “If somebody’s position involves constantly reading disturbing materials or viewing distressing images, we can now evaluate how these job requirements affect them,” she says. “Under our old plan, the harmful effect they could have on a member’s mental/emotional health was never factored in nor scored. There was no value or weight attributed to that. So, we introduced a new evaluation tool that lets us review job details more comprehensively. It ensures we have enough factors to score the position – everything from finance to physical aspects, from supervisory to psychological elements.”

Job Evaluations: Comparing Apples to Oranges As Co-Chair of the Job Evaluation Committee, Cindy ensures the process is consistent and fair. She spends a lot of time explaining the process to her members and manages their expectations of where their evaluation landed. She explains how each job is different, especially among different services. Therefore, it can be like comparing apples to oranges. However, once there’s been a decision and consensus about the job evaluation at the committee level, Cindy says, “The decision is the decision.” And she can confidently execute it because of the fair and equitable process in place. She thinks the Association and service have been successfully communicating and listening to each other. “I think that’s what sets us apart. It’s something that’s very helpful to our membership.” Cindy describes how important it is to establish a fair process and to stick with it. She is quick to respond to members with a win-win solution.

THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

Your Job Information Questionnaire Helps Me Help You It’s important for members to participate in their Job Information Questionnaire. “We always tell our members how important it is to take the time to do your due diligence, to make sure you’ve captured all your duties correctly and accurately,” says Cindy. “We always want to ensure they’ve done that properly.” The supervisor also has an opportunity to review and make notes on the questionnaire. “We report any discrepancies between the supervisor and division commander. We want to make sure that they have communicated them to the employee. The member needs to be aware of any changes to their job description or what the employer feels they should or should not be doing. So if there’s any conflict, we can intervene if we have to.” Also note that in a collective agreement, a member can initiate a request to have their job description evaluated through the process. A manager can also submit a request, especially if they feel a position has significantly changed.

Navigating the Claims System, Reducing Paperwork for Members Cindy believes she has the greatest impact as a Civilian Director due to her knowledge of the process surrounding long-term disability claims, WSIB claims, OMERS waiver of premiums, the paperwork involved with it, and how daunting it is for members. “I’m very happy that I’m able to help our members because when we have a member that is off, whether it’s physical injury or a mental absence, I always find that when you’re not healthy, and then suddenly, you’re bombarded with all this paperwork and all this medical jargon and all these requests…it’s too much! Being here 26 years, I can see it, I can see how overwhelming it is.” Being able to help her fellow members is rewarding because she can ‘move things forward to a better spot’. Cindy says that if you want to improve processes and your work environment, you should join your Association board – you can make a real difference. THE DISPATCH

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THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

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PUBLIC POLICY

A Message from Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General of Ontario Service Over Self to Keep Ontario Safe

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olice officers across Ontario are the true embodiment of the phrase “service over self.” Your role requires adaptability to a dynamic work environment while also being compassionate, and upholding the law with courage, integrity, accountability, and respect. This all happens in a workplace where you must expect the unexpected. Your job is tough, yet thousands of officers across this province show up for duty every day with pride and passion. These days, being a police officer presents a unique set of challenges. But no matter what the world throws at you, you always remain professional. Regardless of what you may be experiencing that day, you all act as the leaders your communities need whenever the moment calls for it. Like all leaders, you require a solid foundation and support. This includes a comprehensive recruitment strategy, world-class training, and state-of-theart technology. It also means having effective and evidence-based mental health support available when they are needed most. Perhaps the greatest honour of being Solicitor General has been attending March-Past ceremonies. Every graduating cadet can make a difference in the communities they serve. That’s why attracting skilled candidates who exemplify integrity, trust, and dedication is crucial to police services. The labour shortage faced by many services across Ontario

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Mark Baxter, PAO President, Solicitor General Michael Kerzner, Jason Tomlinson, President, Ontario Police Memorial Foundation, and Tom Stomatakis, President, Canadian Police Association. makes recruitment that much more important. So we expanded the Basic Constable Training program at the Ontario Police College (OPC) which will now graduate four cohorts per year instead of three. These changes will help us graduate up to 2,000 cadets a year. This government heard loud and clear from frontline officers and associations across Ontario that there have been times when a great candidate simply can’t afford the tuition fees at the OPC. We believe that if you want to serve your community, money shouldn’t be a factor. So in April, we announced that Ontario will cover 100 per cent of the tuition cost for Basic Constable Training for all new cadets. Discussions with police association leadership have also taught us that

mandatory post-secondary school requirement was another barrier to attracting qualified recruits. Many candidates may want to change their career paths but don’t have the time or money to go to college or university before applying to OPC. We believe that one’s lived experience, professional history, and character can make them uniquely qualified for a career in public safety, as this is as important as any qualification. So we removed the post-secondary requirement for OPC recruits as well. Police officers, like other first responders, face unique challenges to their mental health. When you clock in, you never know what may happen during your shift. And sometimes, what you experience on the job isn’t easy to leave at the door. Outside of WINTER 2024


policing, few understand the circumstances officers face daily, and because of this, many officers decide to face these struggles on their own. As one officer once put it to me, “we are the most likely to suffer from PTSI, but the least likely to ask for help.” Premier Ford and I have said repeatedly that we have your backs. And we mean it, each and every day. I’m proud to say that our government has made some great strides to support wellness programs for police officers. We have partnered with Runnymede Healthcare Centre to build the Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Centre of Excellence. Two sites, located in Toronto and Caledon, will provide specially tailored treatment for police officers, firefighters, paramedics, nurses, and correctional officers. The first of its kind in Canada, Runnymede will offer wrap-around supports including prevention, intensive treatment, and return-to-work programming. Make no mistake, this issue is personal to the Premier and me. We have made your wellness a priority. And thanks to his leadership, we will ensure that Ontario’s first responders will never have to suffer in silence. Moreover, we are investing in enhanced mental health services, including support programs to deal with the impacts of work-related stress and impacts on policing personnel and their families. We are also working to develop an online provincewide inventory of regionally available mental health programs to help police associations tap into these resources.

Mark Baxter, PAO President and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. Whether we like it or not, crime exists. There will always be individuals who seek to disrupt public order. And that is why our government has taken bold action to support police services across the province. We are strengthening Ontario’s bail system by investing $112 million to ensure high-risk and repeat violent offenders comply with their bail conditions. In addition, we are fighting auto theft by providing $51 million to help police reduce vehicle thefts and put organized crime rings out of business. Police officers are the keepers of a sacred trust with the people of Ontario. They uphold the law, keep streets safe, and are incredible advocates for their communities’ needs. I have visited dozens of police services across Ontario and have benefitted

greatly from the advice given to me by their officers and associations. It has been my honour to get to know and work with the Police Association of Ontario and especially your president Mark Baxter. His hard work, friendship, and expertise will help us move forward and complete the transition to the Community Safety and Policing Act, the most important update to Ontario’s foundational policing legislation in decades. I also want to acknowledge all the leaders of the PAO including the local chapters who have given me wise counsel. Together, we will always work with one goal in mind, keeping Ontario safe. My sincerest thanks and good wishes to all.

Brad Durst, Canadian Police Association Board Director, Colin Woods, PAO Board Director, Cameron Gough, PAO Board Director, Mark Baxter, PAO President, Solicitor General Michael Kerzner, Matt Jotham, PAO Board Director, Attorney General Doug Downey, Tim Reparon PAO Board Chair, Anne Brennan-Walsh, PAO Board Director, and Jim Mulligan, PAO Board Director. THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

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PUBLIC POLICY

PAO Members Making an Impact at Queen’s Park By Heather Hogan

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s Ontario’s official provincial representative body for over 28,000 sworn and civilian police personnel from 45 police associations, the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) has been a unifying and trusted voice for advocacy in policing since 1933. The PAO provides our member associations with representation, resources, and support. The PAO is immersed in a variety of activities at the provincial level, including our 24th Annual Fall Membership Meeting and Lobby Day, which was held at Queen’s Park on November 14-16, 2023. Our members participated in 75 meetings with provincially elected officials, highlighting our strength in numbers and the positive impact our members collectively make when advocating for police personnel in Ontario. Through lobbying and representation with government principals, the PAO has made significant advances in several critical pieces of legislation which impact our members and the communities they serve. Throughout the week, we heard from Premier Doug Ford, Solicitor General

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Attorney General Doug Downey with the Barrie Police Association. Michael Kerzner, Attorney General Doug Downey, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo, Green Party of Ontario Leader MPP Mike Schreiner, Ontario Liberal Party Interim Leader John Fraser, and Ontario NDP MPP John Vanthof. We have cultivated strong relationships with our elected officials, who recognize the invaluable contribution of the Police Association of Ontario. Our achievements since last year’s Lobby Day,

which centred on police personnel staffing, speak for themselves. We can proudly recognize that the Ontario government has responded by making the path to becoming a police officer more accessible – expanding enrollment at the Ontario Police College and covering the full tuition cost for Basic Constable Training. This year at Queen’s Park, we focused our discussions on our members’ mental health and well-being, as well as strategies to ensure

Premier Doug Ford and Mark Baxter, PAO President. WINTER 2024


the safety of Ontarians. Our priorities included: • The need for a clear support path from WSIB when mental health issues require leave or accommodation for police service members. • Addressing concerns about automated speed enforcement cameras issuing tickets for emergency vehicles exceeding speed limits, emphasizing the importance of a simple change to enhance efficiency and reduce administrative burdens for local communities. During our Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel business sessions, we discussed labour and legal updates. Also, we gained valuable insights on pension advocacy, navigating the PTSD presumption, and social media engagement strategies on Lobby Day. A highlight during our last day was the $6,500 donation the South Simcoe Police Association made to SOLE (Survivors of Law Enforcement Canada). The Canadian Police Association discussed national policing priorities. Our Executive Director, Tyler Callaghan, presented the new Strategic Plan and Michael Duffy, Policy and Research Counsel, led us through bylaw updates, including an amendment to our mission and vision. Moving forward, you can expect to see proactive messaging and engagement with the public and government to act on these priorities.

A Closer Look at Our Provincial Priorities By Michael Duffy

Our members have a crucial role in the success of our important work to make our association an effective advocate for Ontario police personnel, including setting our provincial priorities. This year, Lobby Day conversations centred around the mental health and well-being of our members. Here are our two key provincial priorities:

MPP Neil Lumsden with the Hamilton Police Association. THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

Priority A – A WSIB Framework that Understands Mental Health Injuries Over the last several years, more and more attention has been paid to the psychological toll that police work takes on the individuals who choose to serve their communities. With fewer police officers, dispatchers, and other police staff, our members have had to learn to do more with less. At the same time, Canada’s bail laws have loosened, resulting in a churn of habitual offenders cycling through the courts and Ontario’s communities and a resulting increase in workload for police. We know that these factors, as well as the significant traumas to which police workers are exposed, make police employees more likely to suffer from debilitating mental health injuries. A few police employers have recognized the role that the workplace plays in mental health and have worked toward culture changes that allow members to more readily make use of the resources available to them. However, this is not the norm and too many police employers continue be an obstacle to good health and recovery. Sadly, for those workers who reach the point where their diagnosable mental health issues require them to be absent or accommodated, we are finding that their experience with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WISB) tends to make problems worse. Significant policy and procedure changes are needed at the WSIB as well as within police workplaces to prioritize wellness and increase the chances of successful returns to work. In addition to these policy changes, amending inadequate pieces of legislation will create a framework that more closely reflects the reality of these workplace injuries: 1 - Amend the Timeline for Mental Health Claims First, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WISA) requires that members claim within six months of diagnosis of a compensable illness. This does not reflect the reality of living with these injuries. A member may receive a diagnosis of PTSD or another occupational stress injury at some point in their career, but the injury may not impair their ability to work until far in the future. For members living with these injuries, there is a significant fear in filing an

MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos with Halton Regional Police Association. THE DISPATCH

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MPP John Vanthof with the North Bay Police Association and Ontario Provincial Police Association.

unnecessary claim for fear of stigma. The filing clock should not start running until their diagnosis impacts their ability to work. 2 - Amend Section 14 to Ensure Access to Benefits Second, Section 14 of the WSIA outlines the right of first responders to a presumption of work-relatedness when diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, in assessing the claim, the WSIB does not presume that the member’s loss of earnings is due to absences caused by their PTSD. The WSIB routinely denies claims for Loss of Earnings benefits because the members have failed to show that their absence results from compensable illness. This often occurs after the employer has suggested to the WSIB that the absence from work is due to reasons unrelated to the illness. This undermines the entire presumptive framework and leaves members less likely to recover, instead of more likely. With the need for robust police services more vital than ever, changes to the WSIA can help Ontario’s communities. But any amendments will improve life for our members and the communities they serve only if they are combined with policy changes at the WSIB, and senior police leaders acknowledge how their policies and practices can negatively impact people’s lives.

Priority B – Inappropriate Ticketing of Officers on Duty During a work shift, a standard police constable may find numerous instances where it becomes necessary to exceed the posted speed limit while performing their duties. In many cases, such excesses are accompanied by sirens and flashing lights to indicate to other road users that a police vehicle is engaged in work that requires other users to yield.

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But, in other cases, an officer might briefly exceed the posted limit and refrain from the use of lights and sirens. For example, an officer needs to catch up to a road user driving suspiciously as an indicator to other road users that a police vehicle is engaged in work that requires other users to yield. An officer might also briefly exceed the posted limit and refrain from the use of lights and sirens when, for example, they need to catch up to a road user driving suspiciously in order to read their license plate. The Highway Traffic Act recognizes these circumstances and provides that an officer in a police vehicle does not break the law when, in the legitimate course of duty, the posted speed limit is exceeded. Ontario’s automated speed enforcement regime allows a provincial offences officer to issue a ticket whenever a vehicle is photographed, while radar technology measures its speed as above the posted limit. Currently, officers in the lawful execution of their duties are routinely issued such tickets. This leaves the officer in the position of having to recall their duties at the time of the alleged offence. But there may be no record of the officer’s reason for exceeding the speed limit. In most cases, an officer is required to pay for the ticket and may face additional police discipline because of infraction. This undermines the exemption in the Highway Traffic Act. Instead of issuing the ticket and requiring the officer and/or police service to exercise their right to contest the ticket, the Act and/or Regulation should be amended to require the provincial offenses officer to presume that the exception for emergency vehicles applies and be prohibited from issuing the ticket.

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FEATURE

Tanka Awosika: Improving Lives Through Resolution, Reconciliation and Resilience Tanka Awosika Thunder Bay Police Association By Heather Hogan

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onstable Olamitanka (Tanka) Awosika has been a passionate School Resource Officer with the Thunder Bay Police Service for the past four years and a proud member of the Thunder Bay Police Association. He started serving 13 years ago – first in uniform patrol, then in the Traffic Unit, and now in the Community Services Branch. His policing journey was rooted in Nigeria. As a child, he dreamed of joining the military, an aspiration fueled by the photos of his grandfather in military uniform, Ayoola Awosika, who served in World War II. Despite his grandfather’s passing when he was only three, his impactful legacy lives on through Tanka’s sense of duty to serve. Tanka is part of Thunder Bay Police Chief’s Honour Guard and when participating in Remembrance Day ceremonies, he often thinks about his grandfather’s selfless service for the freedom that all Canadians enjoy today.

A new life, education, and policing career in Canada At the age of 18, Tanka left his home country and came to Canada as an international student. He studied hard to earn his diploma in mechanical engineering technology from George Brown College. He then attended Lakehead University, where he graduated with a double major in math and physics. Tanka settled in Thunder Bay with his wife, where he couldn’t quash his desire to serve and started the process of becoming a police officer.

Policing complex in a cross-cultural society “Upon arriving in Canada, I realized that within Canada, there is a disconnect and distrust between many communities, especially between the Indigenous population and police. This was particularly

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surprising for me as a Nigerian and a Black man, learning about the historical complexities in Canada.” Tanka’s lived experience differed, and it took him time to learn Canada’s history. This allows him to approach policing in schools from a crosscultural view. “Racism is real, and it’s a problem. My approach is centred on the perspective of us trying to learn about each other.”

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As a School Resource Officer, Tanka doesn’t have the same lived experience as a Black person who grew up in Canada and strives to understand other perspectives.

Building trust between students and police Tanka connects with students and helps them get the support they need from the police. He cares about the students he serves and prefers to use diversion and mediation methods to resolve issues within the school. “We’re trying to educate children and create resolutions to help build trust and create a positive relationship with law enforcement at an early age.” Thunder Bay is the most populous municipality in Northwestern Ontario. In 1970, the City of Thunder Bay was formed by merging the cities of Fort William, Port Arthur, and the geographic townships of Neebing and McIntyre. The city takes its name from the immense Thunder Bay at the head of Lake Superior. More than 50 schools are in the city, and Tanka is responsible for serving 25 of them in south Thunder Bay. “I connect with the principals and vice-principals. I call them my coworkers, and they call me when an issue requires intervention.” He also proactively delivers presentations on major areas of concern to students, including online safety and bullying. At times, he is called to the schools to respond to an issue such as assault. “If the incident, is an assault, bullying, threat or anything that is of criminal nature, we intervene to find a solution. Sometimes the parents and involved students come to a resolution; other times, we go through youth diversion instead of proceeding with a criminal charge; and worse case scenario, when there is a need, a criminal charge for something more serious.”

Basketballs, colouring, serving youth in 25 schools Tanka works as part of a team with Community Outreach and often pulls in others as needed, including members of the Community Inclusion Team. He also works with staff and students at Dennis Cromarty High School and Matawa Education and Care Center, both institutions governed by Indigenous organizations with their own liaison officers under the Community Inclusion Team (CIT). His role as a school resource officer came with built-in challenges as he and his partner started during the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately had to adapt to working with schools in lockdown. After the lockdown, he noted adverse effects stemming from the pandemic, such as heightened levels of violence resulting from long isolation periods, reduced physical activity, and increased stress among young people. The resocialization of students is a major hurdle he and the school administration are still struggling to overcome. There is a high demand for Tanka’s time in the schools. But he is only one person, overseeing community policing for 25 schools. He is a big proponent of being in uniform and showing the students who police officers are to increase trust. When he visits high schools, he enjoys walking through the cafeteria, playing basketball in the gym, or weightlifting with the kids in the weight room. In elementary school, he reads books, colours, and

THE MAGAZINE OF THE POLICE ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO

participates in circle time.

Police, trust, and Indigenous communities “I find that as police officers, a common personality trait is jumping to solve a problem immediately and then moving on to the next. Well, that doesn’t work with Indigenous communities,” Tanka says. “Relationships are important. They want to see you, they want to know you care about them, they don’t just want to hear what you have to say, they want action. That is a constant challenge because we are understaffed and have limited time for meaningful community engagement.” In recent years, various critical reports, including those from an expert panel last spring, have exposed systemic racism within the Thunder Bay Police Service towards Indigenous communities. The panel also identified a significant “profound lack of trust” in the police within Indigenous communities.

Better policing through resilience and reconciliation training “To help address the issues that were raised in the report, I have been delivering reconciliation training with all the officers.” Tanka suggests that police officers must slow down and connect with their communities. “When a police officer is tired, stressed out, or overworked, they may not be at their best when dealing with people on their worst days.”

Resiliency training helps officers tackle trauma Tanka says the resiliency training course at the Thunder Bay Police Service helps officers better cope with the often traumatic nature of their jobs. The Comprehensive Officer Resilience Trainthe-Trainer program, an initiative of the FBI National Academy Associates, was first held by the service in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The police service is now returning the program to support police personnel. A toolbox of 12 modules taught in two days was the first course of its kind in Canada. It leverages an officer’s mental, physical, social, and spiritual aspects to help them “promote an environment for well-being” at their workplace. Tanka was one of eight police personnel trained to teach the modules. “Trauma is not necessarily based on an event that occurred, but how we process that event,” he states. “Resiliency training helps us understand how our brain works so that we can learn new skills to process traumatic events in a way that doesn’t lead to occupational stress injury.” Tanka will continue to deliver training to his coworkers as he embarks on the next stage of his career as a Child Abuse Investigator with the Criminal Investigations Branch. “My time as a school resource officer gave me a chance to connect with children and positively influence their experience with police. I look forward to continuing to follow my passion of helping children and eagerly anticipate the positive impact I can make in their lives to improve their situation.”

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FEATURE: BEYOND THE BLUE

CANADA BEYOND THE BLUE: CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE CELEBRATED By Scott Mills

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he second annual Canada Beyond the Blue Champions of Change Gala was held on September 14, 2023, at Palais Royale in Toronto. The Gala was well attended by police services and associations, including OPPA President John Cerasuolo, VP David Sabatini, OPPA Board Members, and staff. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Chief Superintendent Dana Earley. Ontario Solicitor General, the Honourable Michael Kerzner, OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique, and several OPP members were among the close to 300 attendees. The event celebrated Ontario police members and partners who are champions of change promoting mental health and wellness initiatives for a safer workplace. The goal is to reduce the stigma around mental health and recognize those who champion such initiatives. OPPA and OPP members, their families, and community partners were nominated for five Champions of Change awards categories, all of which aimed to recognize their outstanding contributions towards improving mental health in the policing community. The selection committee, including PAO President Mark Baxter, had the challenge of choosing the award recipients as all the nominees had gone beyond the call of duty. Baxter delivered a speech calling for police service members who have died “because of the line of duty” to be recognized and urged employers to stop appealing favorable WSIB outcomes for police personnel, stating, “Our Members are not budget lines, they are people and they deserve to be treated with dignity when they are sick, particularly when they are sick and injured as a result of doing the job.” The following are OPPA Members, their families, and community partners who were either nominated or won awards. OPP Sergeant Bruce Angel of the Grey Bruce Detachment was nominated for promoting a healthy lifestyle after sharing his story on the 10-5 Podcast hosted by the OPP Association. Bruce stated he received over three hundred texts and emails from Members in the days after the podcast was released. Andrew Hodson has been intricately involved with the OPP Haliburton Highlands Detachment providing mental

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Shelly Robson, Rick Robson, Executive Director, London Police Association, Mark Baxter, PAO President, Kristal Jones, President and CoFounder, Toronto Beyond the Blue.

health support within the OPP and the community through the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Andrew was among the nominees for a Community Partner Award. He was nominated by OPP officers involved in a shooting, for his support of them through a traumatic time. Lynn Boucher and her daughter, Veronique Boucher, received the Darius Garda Legacy Award for their relentless efforts to educate members of the policing community and beyond about the signs of suicide. They embarked on this mission following the loss of Retired OPP Provincial Constable Guy Boucher, who was Lynn’s husband and Veronique’s father. In the Agent of Change Award category, 23-year veteran OPP Communications Operator Emily Zufelt was nominated for her courageous and proactive approach to promoting mental health and wellness in the workplace. Emily is known for her podcast “What’s Your Twenty?” Kirkland Lake OPP Court Officer Kimberley Derry was nominated in the Leadership Category for her work to improve the court process in Kirkland Lake. She was described as the cornerstone of the office and a highly respected and knowledgeable Court Officer. Retired OPP Provincial Constable Laura Kloosterman was nominated for a Community Partner Award for her dedication to peer support with Badge of Life Canada and her work before retirement creating an education-based resolution for officers that was accepted and approved by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, the OPP Commissioner, and the OPPA. WINTER 2024


A Social Work Solutions Canada clinician, Dr. Christina Harrington, is well-known to many OPPA members. She has numerous police officers, civilian employees, and their families as clients and was nominated and named the winner of the Community Partner Award for her dedication to providing professional guidance to personal well-being in more than 600 annual counselling sessions. Of note for OPPA members was Dr. Harrington’s advocacy to have Coroner’s Office reports reflect work-related operational stress injuries as contributing factors in police suicides. The OPPA is grateful for the work of all the volunteers at Canada Beyond the Blue, congratulations to Dilnaz Garda, President of Canada Beyond the Blue, and Vice President Kristal Jones and team for hosting an impactful event. Congratulations to all the nominees and all the award winners. If you would like to learn more about the work of Canada Beyond the Blue supporting police spouses and families, visit their website: canadabeyondtheblue.com Originally published in the Winter 2024 issue of Beyond the Badge. Republished with permission from the Ontario Provincial Police Association.

Photo Credit: Myscha Bähr Clinician Dr. Christina Harrington was honoured with the Community Partner Award for her tireless work assisting police officers, police civilian personnel, first responders, military, and public safety personnel.

Dilnaz Garda, President, Canada Beyond the Blue.

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FEATURE

46TH ANNUAL CANADIAN POLICE AND PEACE OFFICERS’ MEMORIAL IN OTTAWA AND RUN TO REMEMBER

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n Sunday, September 25, thousands of police personnel from across Canada, including our Ontario members, solemnly marched to Parliament Hill for the 46th Annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa. We wanted to pay tribute to the eight colleagues we lost this past year and remember the almost 900 men and women whose names are inscribed on the Honour Roll tablets on Parliament Hill.

Canadian Peace Officers’ Memorial Association President Chantal Lewis captured the sentiment, stating, “Seeing one hat is too many, but seeing 11 hats is heartbreaking.” The unprecedented number of officers honoured this

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past year underscored the depth of their impact. The stories shared during the memorial were profoundly moving, revealing the deep connections these officers had within their communities and across the nation. The memorial service took place just two days after the tragic on-duty killing of Maple Ridge RCMP Constable Rick O’Brien in Coquitlam, British Columbia. The event served as a sombre reminder of the risks officers face daily as they fulfill their commitment to public safety. “We lost a police officer on Friday while everybody was travelling here to show support for the families who have made the biggest sacrifice of all,” said Canadian Police As-

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sociation president Tom Stamatakis. “It’s important that we gather and show their loved ones that we remember them.” Our members marched in a parade down Wellington Street before arriving at Parliament Hill for the memorial service, during which Governor General Mary Simon and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc delivered remarks. Eight lives were tragically cut short, leaving families to grieve and mourn, but having a community behind them helps begin the healing process. Our members showed solidarity with the families who feel such a devastating loss. While we can never bring their loved ones back, we can certainly show our gratitude and respect for their sacrifices. Our members also participated in the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Run, known as the Run to Remember, to remember our Heroes in Life who made the ultimate sacrifice. Many of our members felt the absence of a colleague, a friend or a loved one who bravely put on their uniform and stepped into the unknown, fully aware of the risks and challenges they were about to face – but doing so anyway to ensure the safety and security of their community. Like many of our members who participated this year, Constable Devon Northrup from the South Simcoe Police Service participated in the 2022 Run to Remember. By run-

ning, Constable Northrup understood the responsibility we all carry to never forgot those who have sacrificed their lives in service of their community. Now his name is inscribed on the national memorial wall, along with Constable Morgan Russell’s name and all the other heroes in our members’ thoughts and hearts. We will continue honouring their memory and supporting their loved ones and colleagues left behind. “We all have a collective duty and responsibility to look after loved ones. Following the death of their partner, husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, or sisters, we all gather to support them and mourn with them,” said President Mark Baxter. “As the years go on and we carry on the memory of our fallen heroes by participating in events like this, we will continue to be there for the surviving family members and support them in any way we can.” It was an incredible and emotional site for the Police Association of Ontario, along with our Board of Directors and fellow association members, to meet the runners and cyclists as they finished their last leg in Ottawa, the day before the memorial.

Honour roll etched on the memorial’s perimeter wall.

Run to Remember

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BEYOND THE BADGE

Police Services Hero of the Year Awards 2023

Demik Family and Friends

Constable Jeff Loewen

Retired Constable Terry Dodich

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Sergeant Nathan Harris

Special Constable Supervisor Hannah Demik

Constable Rob Lawther with Max Power

WINTER 2024


BEYOND THE BADGE

Police Services Hero of the Year Awards 2023

L

ast spring, the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) was thrilled to announce the winners of their 8th annual Police Services Hero of the Year Awards. Awards were based on the public nominating exemplary police personnel who went beyond the call of duty to protect and serve their communities. The POA’s Awards Committee (members-at-large, President, Board Chair, and civilian association staff ) welcomed the challenging task of selecting the winners from more than 240 deserving nominations. Recently, the PAO travelled across Ontario to celebrate the outstanding finalists and winners in their own communities.

WINDSOR

Hosted by President Kent Rice and the Windsor Police Association on October 3.

Retired Constable Terry Dodich (Finalist) 2023 Extra Mile Award “A uniform or civilian police service employee who has done a one-time, extraordinary act of kindness or bravery” Recently retired, Terry’s 30-year journey with Windsor Police Service is a testament to his dedication. He also volunteered as a peer counsellor to colleagues and mentored youth to encourage them to make positive life decisions. He was instrumental in solving Canada’s oldest cold case – the 1971 murder of six-year-old Ljubica Topic – using Investigative Genetic Genealogy. Terry exemplifies dedication, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to justice.

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Constable Jeff Loewen (Finalist) 2023 Community Role Model “A police officer or civilian police service employee who, in their free time, has made a notable difference in or contribution to their community over a prolonged period of time” Jeff has dedicated 30 years of service to the Windsor Police Service. He has also coached a local high school football team for over 20 years. Jeff ’s nominator, Brian Cyncora, Chapter President of Sleep in Heavenly Peace – Windsor, describes him as an exemplary police officer, serving his community with pride, dignity, compassion and honour. Jeff volunteers with this organization that provides 350+ children with a space for a peaceful night’s sleep. Bedless no more.

Sergeant Nathan Harris (Finalist) 2023 Police Hero Honour Roll “Pays homage to a police officer or civilian police service employee who has made a significant impact over the past decade” Starting his policing career in 2000 with the London Police Service, he returned to his hometown of Amherstburg in 2001 to join the former Amherstburg Police Service, now Windsor Police Service. Nathan is also a volunteer paramedic and youth basketball coach. An inspiration to his community, he also embodies resilience. Nathan did not let adversity keep him down despite a traumatic brain injury and serious injuries throughout his body. With hard work and extensive physiotherapy, he learned to walk again and fully returned to work. THE DISPATCH

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Police Services Hero of the Year Awards 2023 HAMILTON

Hosted by President Jaimi Bannon and the Hamilton Police Association on October 27.

Special Constable Supervisor Hannah Demik (Finalist) 2023 Civilian On-Duty Difference Maker Award “A civilian police service employee who has gone above and beyond the expectations of the job while on-duty” Hannah became the youngest person at age 32 to be promoted to supervisor of the Hamilton police special constables. She oversaw a team of three dozen officers responsible for prisoner escorts to the John Sopinka Courthouse, earning her colleagues’ respect for her exceptional leadership and ability to unite people. Only a year ago Hannah tragically died from heart failure. This award honours her memory and highlights her outstanding character, leadership, and unwavering commitment to law enforcement with the Hamilton Police Service. Immensely proud of their daughter’s accomplishments, parents Pete and Selina Demik accepted her award. Hannah’s close friends, Rebecca Morrison and Sandra Guiliani shed more light on her inspiring journey. In a heartwarming tribute to Hannah, friends started a fundraiser for the U15 Hamilton Hawks girls’ hockey team. Hannah, a passionate hockey player, had been associated with various local hockey leagues. The Hamilton Police Association matched the community’s generous donation.

Constable Robert Lawther (Finalist) 2023 Uniform On-Duty Difference Maker Award “A civilian police service employee who has gone above and beyond the expectations of the job while on-duty” He has provided unwavering support and care to a fellow first responder facing post-traumatic stress disorder. He was hired in 2013 and is currently assigned to Division One Patrol on C Squad. Robert responded to multiple 911 calls for their safety in their most challenging moments, showing genuine concern and compassion.

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This individual was his nominator Max Power, a Primary Care Paramedic with the Hamilton Paramedic Service. He shared a deeply personal story during the ceremony. He credits Robert with saving his life at a time when he had reached a point of despair and doubted his ability to continue serving as a first responder. Max’s story is a powerful testament and underscores the importance of support and camaraderie within the first responder community. It reminds us all that heroes come in many forms, often quietly working behind the scenes to make a difference in the lives of others.

Constable James Durka (Winner) 2023 Community Role Model Award “A police officer or civilian police service employee who, in their free time, has made a notable difference in or contribution to their community over a prolonged period of time” A police officer with the Hamilton Police Service for 20 years, James is a role model in his community both on and off duty. Six years ago, James’ wife Jessica was diagnosed with cancer. He cared for her, all while performing his duty as a detective for the Hamilton Police Service. When Jessica’s cancer was in remission, the couple decided to pay it forward by growing pumpkins at her family farm in Waterford and selling them at a roadside market they named the Juravinski Cancer Centre Pumpkin Patch. James and Jessica, together with fellow officers, have raised $245,000 for the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton. James was recognized in the spring at the annual gala hosted by the York Regional Police Association in Aurora. Guests included family, friends, colleagues, government dignitaries, Pat Mandy, Chair of the Hamilton Police Service Board, and Hamilton Police Service Chief Frank Bergen. For a full list of Award Winners and Finalists, please visit:

policehero.ca Nominations for the 2024 Police Services Hero of the Year Awards open in February.

WINTER 2024


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