In his former role as York Regional Police Service (YRPS) chief, Armand LaBarge was a major catalyst for positive change, an instrument for social justice and the embodiment of what 21st century leadership looks like, says educator Dr. Avis Glaze.
Her glowing compliments were made at the Markham African Caribbean Association (MACA) tribute to mark the chief’s retirement last Sunday in Richmond Hill.
LaBarge retired last December after serving for eight years as the city’s seventh police leader.
“He took pride in understanding and engaging the widest possible cross section of community members,” said Glaze, an advisor to New Zealand’s Minister of Education, Anne Tolley. “He’s respectful of people’s cultures and backgrounds. In fact, he loves people and he has demonstrated that special quality especially for people who are less fortunate.
“We do know that in order to get to those communities, he spends an inordinate amount of time in people’s places of worship. MACA, First Nations groups and many other organizations in the community have enjoyed a longstanding personal relationship with the chief. This is an amazingly complimentary testament to his leadership in a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious context.”
Glaze, who has played a pivotal role in helping to bring about substantial improvements in student achievement in Ontario, praised LaBarge for his tireless commitment to and advocacy for equity and inclusiveness and his sensitivity to social issues.
“Your deeds have spoken loudly and clearly,” she told him. “You have left an indelible mark on our region.”
Supt. Robertson Rouse, the highest-ranking Black YRPS officer, said LaBarge was determined to bring change to the organization when he became chief and he succeeded.
“He ensured the organization recruited, developed, promoted and retained equity in the service.
“We, especially those of the diverse cadre of members, have benefitted from his support, encouragement and mentorship. We are honoured to have worked with him and have served under his leadership.”
Mayor Frank Scarpitti noted the passion and love LaBarge brought to his job and the community.
“We have been fortunate to have a very dedicated police officer in him, someone whose knowledge and experience have helped this region tremendously across the police line and into the community,” he said. “He transformed policing in this region.”
MACA and the Council of Caribbean Associations of Canada were among those who made presentations to LaBarge who spent 37 years with YRPS.
His wife Denise – a Det. Sgt. and the first female recruit hired by the service 32 years ago – retired yesterday. The married couple of 27 years met when he was a detective constable and she was a cadet working in Richmond Hill.