For the past 13 years, Percy Cummins’ memory has been kept alive through an annual cricket match featuring the Toronto Police Community Cricket Club and the Barbados ex-Police Association.
Cummins, an avid cricketer who served with the Royal Barbados Police before joining the Toronto Police Service, made the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life in the line of duty.
He was fatally shot on September 23, 1981 with his own gun after he and his partner were disarmed when they answered a routine disturbance call in a west Toronto rooming home.
The high esteem in which Cummins was held by his colleagues was reflected in the service dedicating its Scarborough cricket ground in his memory in June 1998.
“Percy Cummins was not just a cricketer and someone who opened doors within the service to bring our diversity into a place where there is a sense of comfort, but he was also a leader,” deputy chief Peter Sloly said during a presentation ceremony. “As I look at the current crop of players, I see a lot of youth have been injected through the hiring and the diverse programs we have put in place.
“The fruits of our labour are being borne out not just on the streets where our crime rates are going down and we have very brave officers doing amazing things, but in the quality of the continuation of our outreach. Percy was all about leadership and when I look at our captain Amir (Butt) and others who are following in his footsteps, I look for the leadership qualities that will be people who will be standing in this uniform doing this job down the road.”
A highly decorated Pakistani military officer before migrating to Canada, Butt – the valedictorian in his batch of police auxiliary graduates before becoming a full-time uniformed officer – was a member of the international police force deployed in Afghanistan two years ago and a 2007 Police Officer of the Month winner for saving a woman from a knife-wielding man in a domestic dispute.
TPS board chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee, who has attended most of the matches over the years, praised the players for keeping Cummins’ legacy alive.
“This is an important day for us as we come together to remember Percy who played such a pivotal role in our service,” said Mukherjee. “Through cricket, he created a community within our organization that gives people an identity and a sense of pride and it’s crucial that we remember the contributions he made to the service. He was a pioneer in that sense.
“Our Board has been a strong supporter of the Toronto Police cricket club. We see that as a critical component of who we are today. Cricket has brought together people from all over the globe who work for us and the sport has allowed us to reach out into the community and establish relations with the different components of our city.”
The spectators at this year’s event included Barbados’ consul Ferdinand Gill.
“I want us to remember why we are here,” he said. “To give your life in the service of your country is the highest sacrifice one can make and Percy did just that.”
Cummins, who joined the then Metro Toronto Police on June 16, 1970 after serving for seven-and-a-half years with the Barbados police, was gunned down as he and Constable Michael Jones answered a call on Symington Ave.
He and his injured partner were rushed to St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre where Cummins died in the operating room from a wound to the neck. He was 38 at the time.
Cummins’ body – accompanied by close friend and now retired TPS officer Richard Moore who participated in last Saturday’s game – was returned to Barbados for burial and police later charged Desmond Peart, then a 21-year-old unemployed landed immigrant, with first degree murder.
Peart, who became a paraplegic after being shot in the same incident, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and deported.
Cummins is survived by his widow Eurieta and children Kim and Kevin.