Grade 12 student, Samira Mohamed, knows when to tell the truth.
Speaking at the first Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) after-school graduation at police headquarters last week, the C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute student admitted that she joined the program for the $10.90 hourly wage they were paid the six hours they worked weekly in the last four months.
“Let’s be honest, most of us joined for the money,” she said. “But we left with something more valuable and something that money cannot buy. I always thought that being a police (officer) was about catching criminals. It’s much more than that as I learned during what was an extraordinary experience for me and the other YIPI’s.”
In response to the deadly Danzig Street shooting that claimed two young lives last July, the provincial government rolled out a youth action plan with $20 million in new annual funding to improve the lives of young people in the city and the rest of the province.
As part of the plan, the summer jobs for youth program in the city’s challenged neighbourhoods was expanded to provide 320 new after-school jobs during the school year, increasing to 440 additional part-time jobs this year.
The Toronto Police Service employed 63 students in the program in addition to the close to 1,000 that have passed through the YIPI summer program in the last seven years.
“Those students who have gone before you worked just as hard as you,” Chief Bill Blair told the graduates. “They have gone back into their communities and are making a difference. They have been successful in school, in their careers and in citizenship and they are among our best ambassadors. They are people that we are proud to be associated with.
“When you took this job, you not only took on a responsibility to put in some hours of work, to make a contribution and to learn new skills, but you have accepted some responsibility for the legacy that those who have come before you have built. When you become a YIPI, I want you to understand you have accepted responsibility to ensure that this program is always viewed with trust and respect.”
Toronto Police Services board chair Dr. Alok Mukherjee acknowledged the YIPI program has been a monumental success while deputy chief Peter Sloly told the graduating class to be excellent in whatever they choose to do.
Assigned to the 17 police divisions, the students participated in several projects, including “Project Winter Survival” in which the four students at 13 Division helped to assemble 3,000 survival kits for the homeless.