Taking duty to heart: CSU staff recognized for putting residents first
They're often the first to arrive on the scene. The first friendly face. The first shoulder to lean on.
The ones who know the streets and alleys of our neighbourhoods like the back of their hands. The ones who greet residents by their first name, seeing them through the best and worst of times.
They're the Community Safety Unit (CSU).
You might not hear about them on the nightly news or share stories about them around the dinner table, but you definitely feel the impact of their work wherever you go: in your building, in your neighbourhood, in the city.
Whether it's mediating tough situations, connecting residents to supports they need, or just being there to make someone feel safer, CSU officers take pride in the role they play in the community.
Just ask Special Constable Derek Anderson. An 11-year veteran of the CSU, Derek says he still never really knows what each day will bring. "On a day-to-day basis I'll see a resident, and I'll see them in different levels in life. They might be having a really positive day, or they may be in a really dark place."
Special Constable Derek Anderson stands near a Community Safety Unit patrol car.
For Derek, the true heart of his job lies in the connections he makes with residents, looking beyond the challenges faced by individuals and connecting with them on a human level.
"The residents are just like us. No matter what challenges they face, they are people and that's how I always treat them," says Derek.
"There's one resident who I always run into. I make sure that whenever I see him, I sit down and have a coffee with him. I've learned so much from him just by sharing a warm beverage. For example, he's a really skilled aboriginal sculptor, a true master of his trade. So, I really feel that by seeing things from a human perspective, instead of just as a job I learn so much more."
Jason Kirkwood (middle) stands by his fellow Special Constables at 275 Shuter Street.
Two of our Special Constables, Derek Anderson and Jason Kirkwood, who have a combined total of more than 30 years of experience, were recently recognized by the Toronto Police Service for their commitment to community safety.
Special Constable Anderson was instrumental in helping Toronto Police Service officers arrest a robbery suspect who was found loitering in a Toronto Community Housing building. During a routine patrol with Toronto Police, CSU officers came across a group of men drinking and smoking in a nearby unit. The officers were alerted that one of the men matched the description of a suspect who had robbed a store earlier that day. Special Constable Anderson worked with police officers to gather evidence and eventually apprehend the suspect. Police later found out that the man had a violent criminal history and was a serious threat to the community.
Special Constable Derek Anderson at the Community Safety Unit headquarters at 275 Shuter Street.
Special Constable Kirkwood was recognized for his dedication in helping a sexual assault victim identify her attacker. Last summer, Jason responded to a call about a violent assault on a resident in the stairway of a Toronto Community Housing building. The attacker was known to the victim, but she was too scared to identify him.
Jason worked closely with the victim, offering his support and advocating on her behalf, and was able to convince her to come forward and help police with the investigation. Kirkwood personally contacted members of the Major Crime Unit to set up interview times with the victim and accompanied her to the station as she provided a statement and identified the accused in a photo lineup.
In late August, Jason called officers from the Major Crime Unit and alerted them to the location of the suspect and Toronto Police Service successfully apprehended him.
Special Constables Anderson and Kirkwood were among 42 citizens presented with Community Member Awards from Mayor John Tory and Police Chief Mark Saunders on April, 24, 2016.
Toronto Police Service Constable Matthew McMillen greets Special Constable Derek Anderson.
The awards highlight the CSU's vital relationship with Toronto Police. Whether it's canvassing communities on joint patrols, sharing expertise or simply being a familiar face for residents, the CSU works closely with Toronto Police Service officers to help build relationships and safer communities across Toronto.
The awards speak to the strong bond that CSU officers have built with the residents they serve. Our staff go to great lengths to make sure we're there when residents need us.
"Congratulations to Special Constables Anderson and Kirkwood for receiving such an incredible accolade," says Greg Spearn, President and CEO (Interim). "Our CSU staff pour their hearts into their work, day in and day out. They're helping us build better, safer communities across Toronto."
Learn about community safety tips in the residents' section.
Read more stories and find information for Toronto Community Housing residents in the latest issue of the Housing Update. Download a PDF version of the newsletter here