Program pairs youth and police for a summer of experience

With summer break fast approaching for high school students all over Toronto, many begin to look for summer jobs to keep them busy over warm summer days.

Students living in neighborhoods such as Malvern, Jane-Finch, Regent Park, Jamestown, and South Parkdale (amongst many others) can apply to work for the Toronto Police for a program called Youth in Policing Initiative.

Students will be paid $10.90 an hour and work 24 hours a week. The program will run from June 30 to Aug. 22.

According to Danielle Francis, the program coordinator, Youth in Policing Initiative is now going into its third year.

“Youth in Policing is a component of the Youth Opportunities Strategy by the Ontario government.

Dalton McGuinty developed the strategy and announced it in early 2006. It was in response to the “Year of the Gun” which saw a record increase in homicides and gun violence,” Danielle Francis said.

According to Francis, 100 students are hired each year and are spread out throughout 17 divisions and 30 other support units such as the Marine Unit, Forensic Identification Services, Mounted Unit and the Community Mobilization unit.

While working for the police, students will be doing mostly administrative work such as filing, photocopying and answering phones.

There is also a portion of community involvement that including graffiti removal, community barbeques and crime prevention brochure handouts. “The youth are not involved in any dangerous police work and are not on the streets fighting crime,” Francis said.

“Based on the successes of the Toronto Police Service, the government of Ontario has expanded this initiative to Ottawa, London, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Windsor.

A variety of assignments

The program was already running in Durham, however they expanded the amount of youth employed from five to 15. All of the other police services hire less than 15 students,” Francis said.

Sergeant Scott Gilbert of 13 Division, who works with the hired youth, explained that while many police stations in the city get two students to work with every summer, 13 Division takes in three students.

Some of the events for the students at 13 Division include Salsa on St. Clair, Corso Italia and the Caribana parade amongst administrative jobs as well.

Students also get the chance to assist mechanics with vehicle maintenance and washing boats. Sgt. Gilbert also explained that when students are hired at 13 Division, they are ususually shy, reserved and not very confident.

For many, this is also their first job. “Some have limited information on what types of jobs are available with the Toronto Police Service and the program allows us to give them exposure to the many different career opportunities that are available with our organization,” Sgt. Gilbert said.

At the end of the summer Sgt. Gilbert generally notices a difference in the students he works with. “Our students are more self confident and have gained a better understanding of all the employment opportunities within the field of policing,” he said.

Although positions for these jobs are reserved for students in priority neighborhoods, Sgt. Gilbert proved how much the Toronto Police enjoy helping students.

“At a recent information session held at 31 Division we had a family from Richmond Hill drive through a snow storm to get information on the program.

While not eligible for the YIPI program because of where they live, the youth was eligible to apply for a summer Lifeguard position with the Toronto Police Service,” Sgt. Gilbert explained.