Being stopped and questioned by police on a few occasions when he lived in Toronto Community Housing neighbourhoods were certainly not positive experiences for Derron Lawrence. However, he did not allow that to prevent him from working with the police.
After a year with the Victim Services program that provides daily 24/7 crisis response, trauma and support services to victims of crime and sudden tragic circumstances, Lawrence became an auxiliary police volunteer in 2000.
“Police stopped me when I lived in the Jane & Finch and the Orton Park communities,” he said. “But I did not use that as an excuse to prevent me from doing what I love and that is volunteering and giving back to the community. I left Victim Services because I knew I could make a bigger impact as a volunteer officer working in the community.”
A corporate security administrator at Bell Canada for the past 13 years, Lawrence was recognized with the James Carnegie Memorial Award at the Toronto Police Service auxiliary graduation last week.
Presented to an auxiliary member who demonstrates outstanding leadership skills and proven commitment to the community, the award honours the legacy of the organization’s first auxiliary officer whose community involvement was extensive and distinguished for four decades before his passing 15 years ago.
Over the course of 13 years, Lawrence has consistently averaged over 500 hours of volunteer service annually.
“This honour is a surprise but I want it to be clear that I do this volunteer work selflessly and without looking for anything in return,” said Lawrence who migrated from Jamaica with his family and was raised in subsidized housing…I know there are people out there that resent the police and whenever I am asked why I work with them, I say it’s a great organization and the Service should not be painted with the same brush.”
Starting off at 14 Division sub-station, Lawrence was assigned to 12 Division, Traffic Services and 51 Division where he stood out as a leader. He created an Auxiliary Officer of the Year Award at the downtown division and was instrumental in developing the auxiliary coach officer program and implementing crime prevention initiatives with an auxiliary component.
“Derron has clearly identified a winning combination of leadership skills that is highly effective,” said Inspector Chris Fernandes, the Divisional Policing Support Unit commander. “The key to this is his ability to recognize the potential of his auxiliary officers to take on new challenges that contributes to their overall development. All of his annual evaluations reflect strong work performance, abilities and skills that were normally rated as ‘exceeds’ in all categories.”
Promoted twice in the last year, Lawrence is the Inspector in charge of 51, 52, 53, 54 and 55 divisions.
“As the unit commander responsible for the auxiliary program, I have seen Derron move up in the organization this year from Sergeant to Staff Sergeant then to the rank of Inspector,” said Fernandes. “It’s an amazing feat, but most deserving as well.”
Among this year’s diverse group of 68 auxiliary graduates is former Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) member, Austin Rowe.