Toronto city council has approved the naming of a parkette after former police officer Percy Cummins who was killed in the line of duty 30 years ago.
The parkette, located behind the new 11 Division building on Davenport Rd., is just blocks away from the Symington Ave. rooming house where Cummins was gunned down with his own revolver after he and his partner, Const. Michael Jones, responded to a routine disturbance call on September 23, 1981.
The badly wounded officer and his injured partner, who was shot in the hand, were rushed to St. Joseph’s Health Centre where Cummins died in the operating room from a bullet wound to the neck. He was 38 at the time of his death.
“I am very happy that the city is recognizing Percy,” said Toronto police chief, Bill Blair. “I think it’s not only a demonstration of respect for the Cummins family, but also an acknowledgment of police officers who put themselves at risk and sometimes, tragically, lose their lives in the line of duty.”
Davenport city councillor, Cesar Palacio, made the request to the Etobicoke York Community Council for the parkette to be named after Cummins.
“This is one example of how, when we work together, great things can happen,” said Palacio.
Retired police officer and close friend, Richard Moore, welcomed the news.
“This should have been done a long time ago,” said Moore, who accompanied Cummins’ body back to Barbados for burial. “Percy was very dedicated to policing and he was one of the nicest and most generous people you would ever meet. He was always willing to give advice, very family-oriented and an avid sportsman. He was just a genuine and good all-round person.”
Cummins is survived by his wife, Eurieta (Rita) and children, Kim and Kevin.
“Anytime you have city property that’s named after someone, that’s special,” said Kevin Cummins. “When it’s your dad’s name, that’s very, very special. It means that I can come by this place and just feel so proud to see something bearing his legacy.”
Kevin Cummins was just five years old when his father passed away.
“The memories I have of my father are those related by his many friends and colleagues who keep telling me what a great person he was,” he said. “My mom has also told me and my sister how much a great dad he was.”
Cummins, who joined the then Metro Toronto Police on June 16, 1970 after seven-and-a-half years with the Barbados police, had been back on uniform duty just one day after working in the old clothes and undercover squad.
Police later charged Desmond Peart, then a 21-year-old unemployed landed immigrant, with first degree murder. Peart, who was left a paraplegic after being shot in the same incident, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and deported.
The parkette is the second site in the city to bear Cummins’ name. In June 1998, the Toronto Police Cricket Club’s Scarborough ground was dedicated in his memory.
Two months after his death, the then Metropolitan Toronto Board of Police Commissioners (now the Toronto Police Service Board) awarded the Metropolitan Toronto Police Medal of Honour posthumously to Cummins.