Officers, citizens and the media were honoured Thursday night at the Annual South Simcoe Police Service Recognition Awards.
Numerous officers were singled out for excellence in crime prevention, investigation and emergency response. Citizens were presented with public safety awards for lending police a helping hand. And media outlets were recognized for the role they play in helping to prevent crime and to highlight the work police do above and beyond crime prevention.
In addition, several officers and support staff were recognized for their years of service.
20 Year Service Award
30 Year Service Award
Excellence in Traffic Safety
Sergeant David Phillips assumed control of the Traffic Unit in January 2018. He enlisted all officers, not just those assigned to the Traffic and Marine Unit, to join in service-wide traffic enforcement strategy. On a daily basis, officers are now assigned traffic complaint zones to address the areas of concern.
Excellence in Investigation/Traffic Initiated
Constable Rob Griffin stopped a vehicle on Canal Road to check the driver’s sobriety. During his investigation, he detected a strong smell of marijuana. A subsequent search of the vehicle led to the seizure of a loaded .357 magnum handgun. The driver and a passenger were placed under arrest. A third suspect was arrested at a home in Maple
Constable Carl Jarvis, during a RIDE spot check in Innisfil, noticed an odour of fresh cannabis from inside the vehicle. A search under the Cannabis Act resulted in the seizure of 64 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $250,000. Seven people were charged with multiple offences.
Excellence in Safety and Crime Prevention
Special Constable Elisabeth Aschwanden single-handedly organizes the Citizens Police Academy ‘Seniors Edition’. She is also a popular fixture as a school resource officer.
Excellence in Investigation
Constables David Caccia, Tyler Howey, Dan Tucker, Andrew Bowen, Shawn Strilec, Mike West, Jon Day, Kyla Thurston, Clint McLellan and Terri McCallum played key roles in an investigation that began with an armed robbery at a gas station in August 2018 and ended with an arrest in February 2019. A fresh cigarette butt, found in the area where the get-a-way car was last seen, ultimately proved to be crucial in the investigation in that a DNA profile of the suspect was extracted from it.
Acting Sergeant Kai Johnson and York Regional Police Detective Colin Organ teamed up in the investigation of armed hold-ups at several pharmacies in Bradford and York Region. Weapons, cash and a large quantity of drugs, including fentanyl patches, heroin, cocaine and a wide variety of other narcotics were seized. One suspect was sentenced to 10 years in prison; another is serving a three-and-a-half-year term.
Excellence in Emergency Response
Constables Mark Colucci, Adam Walther and David Oxley, Civilian 9-1-1 Communicators Dana Corporon, Holleigh Vella and Robyn Bodnaryk worked together to successfully subdue a man threatening to kill himself at a home in Bradford.
Sergeants Sean Willan and Michael Adams, Constables Gerald Crane, Troy Urbshott, Shawn Strilec, Clint McLellan and the K9 Unit of PC Shawn Gwilliam and PSD Nitro were dispatched to a home in Innisfil for a report of a suicidal man with a firearm. The suspect was uncooperative with police and repeatedly requested that police shoot him and he did not plan on coming out of the house alive. After he lit a fire in the garage, police kicked in the door to the garage, extinguished the fire and placed the man under arrest for weapons-related offences.
Excellence in Innovation
Sue Sgambati joined the South Simcoe Police Service team in March of 2018. Amongst other things, she came with a mission to improve communications between the Service and the communities it serves. She has utilized her vast experience as a journalist, as well as her knowledge of current media outlets, to enhance the image of the Service and to make its outstanding performance visible to the broader public.
Best Radio/TV Story – Rock 95/Kool Fm News – for its coverage on South Simcoe Police Service issuing its first, three-day roadside licence suspension for cannabis.
Best Media Story – Bradford Today – for its coverage of the South Simcoe Police Service HASHTAG Be TRUE (#BTRU), otherwise known as the ‘Be The Real You’ school program.
Best Media Photo – Bradford Today – When two adults and a child died in an SUV collision Sergeant Dave Phillips of the Traffic and Marine Unit held a media scrum to inform the community of the tragic news and appeal for information. Miriam King, a well-established and respected reporter from Bradford Today, captured this moment in her camera’s eye. It instantly captured the emotion of the moment and depicted the professionalism and human side of policing.
Dedicated to recognizing citizens who have provided outstanding support for the Service, acted in a courageous fashion to assist the Service or the public at large or otherwise demonstrated an act of good citizenship in their dealings with the Service.
Joaquim Baptista and Richard Hyland boxed in a Fail To Remain driver at 10th Sideroad and Highway 89, then physically restrained the suspect until police arrived. Both were assaulted by the suspect and a female passenger. A pedestrian who was struck was treated for minor injuries.
Warren Giles attempted to save a woman in an apartment fire in Bradford. Giles grabbed a garden hose and attempted to extinguish the blaze. His actions helped keep the flames from spreading to other units in the building. The woman was transported to hospital in critical condition where she succumbed to her injuries.
Auxiliary Police Awards
Officer of the year – Ryan Gainer – Since joining in 2017, Ryan consistently volunteers for events in both communities and has exceeded the hours commitment every month. Ryan continues to have one of the highest amounts of hours within the unit every year.
Meritorious Action Award – David Stea – One day in March 2019, police were called to an address for a death investigation. Auxiliary Constable Stea was assigned to protect the scene, while officers conducted their investigation. Left in the wake of the death, were heartbroken family members. More and more family members arrived at the home, causing the situation to become even more emotional and chaotic. One of the responding officers said: “Auxiliary Stea acted very professional and was a great help with holding the scene. The call itself was extremely stressful with the large family being understandably inconsolable and crying and Auxiliary Stea handled himself very well and was of great assistance to the service.”
Jeff Stovold – Lefroy Harbour – Over the years, various members of the family have acquired and operated The RV Warehouse, Kon Tiki Marina, the KOA Campground and Lefroy Harbour, where South Simcoe Police Service moors its boat. Jeff’s caring and generosity extends far beyond Simcoe County to an orphanage in Africa. He and his wife Cathy have travelled to Kenya as part of the Rain Harvest Team to work at the orphanage called Mully Children’s Family Homes (MCF). A cause near and dear to the couple, MCF rescues and cares for abandoned and abused children. Jeff’s partnership with the community and South Simcoe Police Service has been unwavering.
Rod Hicks – Former Police Services Board Chair – Rod Hicks joined the Bradford West Gwillimbury/Innisfil Police Services Board in December of 2012. He was elected Vice-Chair in January 2014 and after two years in that role, he became Chair of the Board in January 2016. He served as Chair for three and a half years and during his tenure was involved in negotiating contracts and the hiring of Chief Fletcher and Deputy Chief McElary-Downer. Chair Hicks’ long history of public service dates back to his years with Toronto Emergency Services where he served in many capacities, including Duty Officer.