The sense of responsibility is huge in the kind of community support Toronto Community Housing Special Constables carry out, and it also brings tremendous sense of satisfaction for the first responders who follow this career path.
The most intense and personal work in the community often involves protecting individuals; people you know by name. Now imagine getting to know an entire community; you know the names of the kids, you know who just got home from the hospital, whose cupboard is empty, who just organized a baseball league…or who is coming forward for help in reporting a crime.
Supervisor Sergeant Brian Lass says working in Toronto Community Housing's (TCHC) Community Safety Unit (CSU) is rewarding because Special Constables make a difference each day in the community. He says some days can be unpredictable, but the rewards of helping individuals and families to stay safe and get on with their lives are very real and tangible.
Lass says the work is about much more than dealing with what's in front of you. "By taking into account what went on before, the person's history, you can help resolve and mediate their issues. You look for common ground, then focus on de-escalation. The more you engage with community members, get to know them, the more effective you can be in this career."
Special Constable status
CSU was granted Special Constable status in 2000 through an agreement with the Toronto Police Service to perform law enforcement and security functions in relation to the property and operations of Toronto Community Housing.
Since then, CSU's Special Constables have held Peace Officer powers of arrest and limited Police Officer authorities in accordance with Section 53 of the Police Services Act, which will continue with the new Comprehensive Ontario Police Service Act (COPS) once fully implemented. All Special Constables in the unit swear an oath-of-office and undertake Police/Peace Officer duties as set out in their Special Constable appointment, granting them powers to enforce legislation.
TCHC's Community Safety Unit Special Constables are peace officers. They enforce the following statutes: the Provincial Offences Act; the Mental Health Act; the Liquor License Act; the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; the Trespass to Property Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. Special Constables have the power of arrest and use of force options: however, they do not carry a gun. In Toronto, any community-based law enforcement means working closely with the Toronto Police Service (TPS), which can involve regular joint patrols with TPS in the community to help prevent and solve crimes and keep community members safe.
Careers in community safety
While some special constables use their TCHC experience as a stepping stone to a career with other law enforcement agencies, many find a career path within TCHC, which offers competitive wages, excellent health benefits, and a government-level pension plan.
Special Constable job openings are posted on the Toronto Community Housing career site at
torontohousing.ca/careers. To be considered for this role, all interested candidates must apply online when the job is posted. Applications must include a cover letter and detailed resume that highlights the candidate's qualifications for the role and either a valid certification letter from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) or proof of a Fitness Pin should the applicant hold prior peace officer status within Canada in the past five years.
Whether you find yourself cooperating with a police investigation, helping the community deal with the aftermath of a crisis, or attending a community picnic, the real challenge and the chief reward of this career is being seen as a part of the community.
Why not apply for this truly one-of-a-kind career today!