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Off-duty York officer, Project Chameleon investigators honoured

South Simcoe Police Service recognizes more than 30 people — mostly officers but also Good Samaritans and voluntary members of the auxiliary unit — during ceremony May 6

From a hard-nosed investigator to folks who saw someone in trouble and just wanted to offer help, south Simcoe’s finest were honoured Monday night.

More than 30 people — mostly officers but also Good Samaritans and voluntary members of the auxiliary unit — got some time in the spotlight during the South Simcoe Police Service’s annual recognition awards ceremony, which was held at Innisfil Community Church May 6.

“Bradford and Innisfil are among the safest municipalities in Canada,” Bradford Mayor James Leduc said, addressing the crowd. “Tonight, we come together to acknowledge and reflect upon the dedication and courage of our members of the South Simcoe police and the heroic citizens who helped keep our community safe. We truly appreciate everything you do.”

Awards were handed out for excellence in traffic safety, emergency response, 911 communications, investigation and innovation. Three citizens were also honoured, as were two auxiliary officers, and Elisabeth Aschwanden (20 years of service), Linda’s Floral Design (community support) and Sue Sgambati (Unsung Hero Award) got recognition, too.

Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin noted the “dedication and service” of the officers in attendance.

“Your presence speaks volumes about the importance we place on recognizing and celebrating the achievements of our community and our amazing police family,” she said. “Your chosen career is a demanding one. It requires exceptional skill, knowledge, professionalism and courage and, I’m sure, a lot of patience. You’ve exemplified these qualities time and time again. You wear many hats. Your multi-faceted contributions to our community are invaluable. We’re grateful.”

Here are a few of the outstanding stories from the night:

Tara Broughton (Citizen Award)

On Dec. 21 at about 4:20 p.m., this off-duty York Regional Police officer was driving through a residential area in Bradford.

She noticed a large amount of smoke and fire coming from a garage. She alerted the people living in the home that they needed to leave immediately — the occupants, including the property owner and three generations of their family, were unaware the blaze had been sparked.

Broughton also called 911, and South Simcoe police says her actions prevented a possible tragedy.

Sujay Sunny and Stephanie Gillard (Citizen Award)

When a crash between an SUV and a motorcycle occurred in Bradford on May 9, 2023, at about 4:50 p.m., Sunny and Gillard jumped into action to try to save a life.

This incident happened on County Road 88, near Highway 400.

The motorcyclist landed on the SUV, sustaining critical injuries.

Sunny and Gillard climbed onto the roof of the SUV and performed CPR. These two strangers worked together until emergency services personnel arrived.

Although the motorcyclist died, both residents were commended by the department for going “above and beyond” during the incident.

“I am grateful for the citizen heroes we have here this evening,” Chief John Van Dyke said. “It’s heartwarming our citizens take the initiative to maintain and ensure the safety of our neighbourhoods, or come to the aid of others in their time of need.”

Det.-Const. Dan Raymond (Excellence in Investigation)

In May 2022, two suspects confronted a female victim in the parking lot of a Tim Hortons in Innisfil.

Allegedly, one of the suspects forcefully stole her car keys and threatened her with a knife before knocking her to the ground. The suspects got into the victim’s vehicle and fled the scene.

Raymond attended the scene and gathered evidence, and the vehicle was tracked to a neighbouring municipality. He helped ensure the vehicle was recovered.

Despite limited information from the scene, Raymond chased down leads for more than a year. Eventually, both suspects were identified.

After determining the suspects were on the lam in another jurisdiction, Raymond worked with officers in that police department to lead to an arrest and full confession.

The whereabouts of the second suspect is still unknown.

Twelve officers for Project Chameleon (Excellence in Investigation)

This large and complex investigation began in May 2023, after reports females were being trafficked at an Innisfil residence.

The probe led to the successful release of three females from the trafficking ring. “Countless” hours were dedicated to conducting surveillance, reviewing data and researching suspects.

In November, search warrants were executed on several properties and vehicles.

This collaborative effort involved other police agencies “far beyond what had previously been experienced” in south Simcoe.

In total, eight suspects now face human-trafficking- and drug-related charges, while quantities of cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and fentanyl were removed from the community.

“There are not enough words to express how much I respect and value the excellent work all of you do each and every day,” Van Dyke said. “I am constantly in awe of the incredible people we have.”

Const. Amanda Noel (Award for Excellence in Traffic Safety)

Last year, South Simcoe police made 135 impaired driving-related arrests resulting in 238 criminal charges.

Despite being a junior officer, Noel had the highest number of impaired driving arrests in the service, and was directly responsible for identifying and arresting 10 people for these offences.

She also assisted with several other impaired-related calls.

Noel has developed the skills to identify signs of impairment during general patrol, and while responding to driving complaints and conducting RIDE programs, the department says.

Chris Simon

About the Author: Chris Simon

Chris Simon is an award-winning journalist who has written for publications throughout Simcoe County and York Region. He is the current Editor of BradfordToday and InnisfilToday and has about two decades of experience in the sector
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