Public Has Their Say in This Year's PAO Heroes of the Year
TORONTO, May 25, 2016 /CNW/ - Three police service heroes were recognized for the work they do on the job and in their communities last week at a banquet with police representatives from across the province and several cabinet ministers and politicians.
"Every day, police officers put their lives on the line for the people they serve, and every day civilian police service employees assist members of their communities during very challenging events," says PAO President Bruce Chapman. "We forget these police service personnel are moms, dads, and neighbours that go to work like everyone else, and they end up doing some incredible things every day – acts of heroism, compassion and community involvement – acts that change the lives of the people they serve."
In July 2015 - Constable Phil Sheldon and his partner Cst. Dale Culley got a call to respond to a domestic situation - later determined to be a murder suicide. Upon their arrival to the home, an explosion occurred and both were burned. While both required hospitalization, Phil Sheldon had to undergo numerous skin grafts and a long recovery period. Even with the extent of his injuries, many of his work colleagues are amazed at his positive attitude and his belief that even with his injuries that he was doing the job he loved to do.
The second police services employee was given an award for his act of courage rescuing people from a burning building in the early morning hours of August 10, 2015 in Owen Sound. While several emergency first responders were dispatched to what many people described as a fire that looked like it was in a war-zone, Cst. Patrick Rawn is being recognized for his leadership and sense of calm while he was rescuing people from the building. One elderly man said when he pushed out his kitchen window on an upper floor, Cst. Rawn was below telling them to calmly jump and he would catch him. And he did. Another resident said when he was finished helping to pull people out of the building he picked up a garden hose to assist firefighters to control parts of the fire.
The third award is for a police services employee is goes above and beyond in their community, outside of their job duties.
In Hamilton, Special Constable Sharon Williamson is known for her extensive work helping the homeless and children's programs. She created a program called Helping Hamilton's Homeless that collected and distributed clothing and she ran the Magical Night of Christmas where she gave out clothing and food blessing bags to low-income families in Hamilton. One quote from a nominator is "She looks at everyone as a person she doesn't care what you look like - what you are wearing – and, if you need a hand, don't be surprised the one that is there reach to lift you is Sharon."
During the campaign in March, the PAO received over 200 nominations from every corner of the province. Most of these nominations were very emotional and very passionate stories – including one of a police officer helping a family member who had an addiction problem, another of an officer counseling them through a period of immediate shock after a sexual assault, another, of an officer that stayed with a parent for a while after the death of a child. There were also many stories of what police personnel do after they are off duty with food drives, helping the homeless and volunteering for women's shelters.
"The idea of the Police Services of the Year Award was started by the community," says Chapman. "The public are constantly telling us that they want to hear the positive stories of policing, what we do as police officers every day as a part of our job, and how has a direct impact on lower crime rates and the lives of so many."
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn and NDP MPP, Jennifer French all participated in the event held at the Sheraton Parkway.
Founded in 1933, the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) is the official voice and representative body for Ontario's front-line police personnel, and provides representation, resource and support for 53 police associations.
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SOURCE Police Association of Ontario
Image with caption: "Police Services Heroes (CNW Group/Police Association of Ontario)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160525_C5462_PHOTO_EN_699298.jpg