Luck was on Shawn Brown’s side the third time around. Twice turned down in his quest to become a Toronto Police officer, Brown is in the new recruit class undergoing orientation prior to entering the provincial police college for training.
The married father of two young children said Toronto Police was always on his radar despite the fact his application was twice rejected.
“I was raised in the Rexdale community which is very multicultural, so working for a diverse employer mattered to me,” Brown, 39, said. “Giving up on Toronto Police was never an option. I knew I had to strive harder and prove to them that I have the qualities to be a valued member of their team. That day has come for me and it’s an absolute honour to be part of Canada’s largest police service.”
New recruits undergo two weeks of orientation at the Service’s police college and 12 weeks of training at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer before returning to the Toronto Police College for a further six weeks of preparation.
“I am now looking forward to the training, developing relationships and enjoying a long and rewarding career as a police officer,” he said.
The son of Jamaican immigrants, Brown graduated from David & Mary Thompson Collegiate Institute and Sheridan College’s law and security administration program and has worked in the law enforcement sector for nearly 15 years.
He was a court officer for seven years with Durham Regional Police and a special constable with York Region Transit for five years.
Brown, who also did other security jobs part-time, already has his sights set on becoming a member of the Service’s specialized unit.
“It never hurts to have goals in my mind,” he said. “I however know that I will have to pay my dues and walk the beat.”
In addition to being a Big Brother for the last five years, Brown is very active in Whitby’s Holy Family Catholic Church where he’s a lead usher.
The new recruiting class also includes the first Youth In Policing Initiative (YIPI) graduate.
Thushanth Selvakumar, who was in the inaugural program in 2006, was assigned to 41 Division community response unit.
“This is a dream come true,” said the University of Ontario Institute of Technology criminology & justice graduate. “I have been trying so hard to get to where I am today. I am back to where I started as a student eight years ago.”
Soon after becoming Chief in 2005, Bill Blair suggested that the organization employ 20 young people. There were, however, no funds. With its financial resources stretched to the limit, the Chief turned to then-incoming Deputy Chief Keith Forde for suggestions as to where funding could be accessed for such a project.
Forde and Mukherjee approached Mary Anne Chambers, the then Minister of Children and Youth Services, who was at the time formulating a government strategy to address youth needs.
Chambers said her eyes were filled with tears of joy when she learned the Service was hiring its first YIPI graduate.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” she said. “This young man is a great role model for all YIPI participants, past, present and future and his choice of criminology and justice for his post-secondary studies tells me he has a promising career ahead of him. I believe it is important for youth and the police to have the opportunity to learn from and about each other.
“The result is very likely to be increased understanding and mutual respect. I am very appreciative of the commitment that the Toronto Police Service has made to the program and the participants over the years.”
The YIPI program emerged as a summer employment opportunity for young people from some of the city’s designated priority neighbourhoods to gain valuable work experience and feel positive and confident about their experiences which they take back to their communities.
“The program exposed me to opportunities and it showed me a different side of policing I didn’t know exist,” said Selvakumar. “I thought police just arrested bad guys, but I soon learned policing is more than that. As a YIPI, I got the opportunity to visit most of the units and that was what really sold on me on Toronto Police.”
A Central Ontario Crime Prevention Association member since March 2013, Selvakumar did shift work with several security companies while going to school full-time.
“That was quite challenging, but it has prepared me for my new role as a police officer as I have already being exposed to shift work,” he said.
Born in Montreal and raised in Scarborough, Selvakumar graduated from Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute. The volunteer mentor with Big Brother Big Sisters of Ajax-Pickering was an anti-piracy officer with Andrews International prior to joining Toronto Police.