It was a night to recognize and honour those who keep the community safe, at the virtual 2020 South Simcoe Police Service Awards.
The group of 70 online guests were welcomed by MC for the evening, South Simcoe Police Chief Andrew Fletcher who first expressed his condolences on the passing of OPP Officer Marc Hovingh, killed in the line of duty on Thursday afternoon, on Manitoulin Island.
Police Services Board Chair Licinio Miguelo thanked Chief Fletcher and the organizing committee for putting together the night's event.
Dignitaries, including Barrie-Innisfil MP John Brassard, Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin, Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin, BWG Deputy Mayor James Leduc, and York-Simcoe MP Scot Davidson ZOOMED into the online event to express their gratitude and congratulations to the Service and award recipients.
York-Simcoe MPP Caroline Mulroney was unable to tune in, but recorded a video message to the award recipients, later posted on South Simcoe Police social media, recognizing the dedication and hard work of the Service.
"We recognize the pandemic has hit us hard and times are tough, but we felt it was more important than ever to pause, focus on the positive and celebrate the great deeds that have occurred this past year," said Fletcher. "Tonight you will hear about courage and compassion in the face of danger, actions of both officers and citizens that saved lives, and of course the classic dogged police work that helps keep our community safe."
Police Exemplary Service Medal - 30 Years of Service – Acting Deputy Chief John Van Dyke
Van Dyke was born and raised in Bradford West Gwillimbury. His parents immigrated to Canada from the Netherlands, arriving in the Holland Marsh in 1929. He joined the police auxiliary constable in 1989, and became a full-time constable in October of that same year. He has worked in various areas of the Service including front-line patrol and criminal investigations. He was promoted to sergeant in 2001, staff sergeant in 2006 and inspector in 2016.
Police Exemplary Service Medal - 20 Years of Service – PC Wes Brown
Brown joined the Peel Regional Police Service in 2000 after graduating from the Police Foundations program at Georgian College. In 2002, he joined SSPS and in 2005 became a member of the emergency response unit, which he now oversees as an acting sergeant. In 2008, he was assigned to the training branch and is responsible for all in-service training and requalifications throughout the organization. He is also a member of the Ontario Association of Police Educators (OAPE), and in 2018 was elected to OAPE executive as treasurer.
Police Exemplary Service Medal - 20 Years of Service – PC Carlos Pinho
Pinho graduated from Seneca College in 1995 and joined the auxiliary in April 1999 where he remained until he was hired as a constable in February 2000. He was assigned to the traffic unit in 2002. He is a qualified breathalyzer technician and is a trained collision reconstructionist and scenes of crime officer. Since 2008, he has been supporting the recruiting bureau and most recently has been specially trained in crisis prevention.
Police Exemplary Service Medal - 20 Years of Service – Staff Sgt. Henry Geoffroy
Geoffroy became a police officer in 1999 in Toronto and joined SSPS in 2002. He has served in areas where including the primary response unit, traffic and marine units, the training branch and the emergency response unit. In 2017 he was promoted to sergeant and in 2018 took over as supervisor, for responsible for the support services unit. He was promoted to staff sergeant in 2019 and currently manages the administration and communications units. He is the recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work with the Police Association of Ontario and Canadian Police Association Boards.
Citizen Awards – Cindy Rossit, Tanya Mapp, Barry Stanley, and Mallorie Wild
On Friday, June 26, 2020, police were called to a plaza on Innisfil Beach Road in Alcona where a one-month-old baby was locked inside a car. Rossit, Mapp, Stanley and Wild were on scene to smash the window, rescue the child and take him to safety in an air-conditioned store. Simcoe Paramedics took the baby to a nearby hospital as a precaution. A 40-year-old woman from Innisfil was arrested at the scene and charged with failure to provide the necessities of life.
Excellence in Investigation – PC Leslie Grace and PC Terri McCallum
The pair was recognized for their dedication and hard work for the key role they played in the investigation that began with an armed robbery at a coffee shop in Bradford in 2011. On Nov. 7, 2011, a suspect entered the shop with a handgun before taking money from the till. Grace and McCallum scoured the scene and were able to find two key pieces of evidence to the crime: DNA from saliva on the sidewalk outside the store and a fingerprint found on a bag, which eventually led to the crime being solved nine years later in 2017. A 27-year-old Aurora man was arrested and charged in connection with the robbery and in February 2020 was found guilty of the crime.
Excellence in Investigation – DC Holly Murray, DC Andrew Smith, and DC Kip Wohlert (OPP)
This award involved three separate international child pornography extortion and luring investigations. The first involved the arrest of a 22-year-old Innisfil man who had been luring both a 12 and 14-year-old from outside of Ontario. In June 2020, he pled guilty to the charges and is awaiting sentencing.
The second case involved a 10-year-old victim from Innisfil who had sent explicit photos of herself to a stranger online in Florida. The team's investigative work eventually led to his arrest by Florida police.
And finally, a case involving a 13-year-old Bradford girl who had been lured online by a man in California. The team worked alongside California police with Wohlert assuming the identity of the 13-year-old, which eventually led to the arrest of the suspect in March 2020.
Excellence in Investigation – Det. Sgt. Kai Johnson, DC Andrew Smith, PC John Ellis
This team was recognized for their leadership in the tragic overdose death of a 23-year-old Innisfil man in April 2017. The complex investigation resulted in the arrests and charges of two men. This investigation was historic as it was the first in the country where manslaughter charges were laid in a drug overdose death.
Excellence in Investigation – Det. Sgt. Kai Johnson and PC John Ellis
On May 17, 2019, SSP executed a search warrant in Belle Ewart and seized three loaded guns. Drugs and cash were seized, and an illegal grow-op was dismantled. A 23-year-old man from Belle Ewart was arrested and charged and remains before the courts.
Excellence in Emergency Response – Communicator Catilin Summers
On Oct. 8, 2019, Summers received a 911 call from a woman in hysterics without a call back number or location. The woman could be heard arguing with a male in the background. Summers eventually figured out the location of the woman who was in Barrie and connected with city police to locate them. It turned out the male was a suspect from an assault call made earlier that day and was considered armed and dangerous. As a result of Summers' actions, Barrie Police were able to bring the woman to safety.
Excellence in Emergency Response – PC Gerald Crane and PC Devon Northrup
On May 20, 2020, SSP was called about a man who was about to end his life at a home in Innisfil. Northrup and Crane raced to the scene and gained entry to a garage and found the man in the back seat of a locked vehicle. They broke the window and brought him to safety and transported him to the hospital.
Excellence in Emergency Response – PC David Oxley, PC Ashley Fairburn, PC Carl Jarvis, Dustin Cooper with Innisfil Fire, and Chris Blackett with Innisfil Fire
On July 12, 2020, SSP along with Innisfil Fire and Simcoe Paramedics responded to a call about a man on Lake Simcoe. They tried to speak to him but he refused offers for help and swam further away from shore. The Marine Unit was dispatched and upon arrival, Const. Jarvis built a rapport and swam alongside the man eventually convincing him to come out of the water. The man was transported to the hospital and connected with needed services.
Two other special awards were presented to Deputy Chief Robin McElary-Downer, who is retiring at the end of the year after serving 36 years with the OPP.
Although McElary-Downer could not attend the evening's event due to a prior commitment, Chief Fletcher honoured her virtually with a handmade token of appreciation crafted by Const. Dan Tucker.
"Thank you for your service to the community Robin, enjoy your retirement," said Fletcher.
Lastly, Miguelo was recognized for his work with the Service. He will be leaving the Police Services Board at the end of the year, having first joined the Board in 2015 and served as Vice-Chair for the past two years.
"It's been a pleasure to work with you, I want to thank you for your support and guidance over the years," said Fletcher, as he presented him with a customized 14K gold pin, created and donated by Bradford's Peter Dykie Jewellery.