I have been unfortunate in that I have had to have contact with police on more occasions than I can recall, but what I do recall about the majority of those interactions was how sad and alone I felt after each one. I had lost all hope and remember saying numerous times that I didn’t want to call them... even after being urged to by other community members because I always felt victim shamed and was left in tears after my encounters.
However, I attended the Belleville police station for exchanges of my son at 7:30 am every Friday morning. In the past, a third party had been able to do the exchanges on my behalf, however recently they were unable to do them for me. My Ex has a parole order that states he is not to have any contact with me except email to exchange information about our child. He was contacted and told not to attend exchange as I would be present. I also spoke with his parole officer who advised me to call the station and give them the heads up that I would be attending the exchange myself, which I did as advised, but was brushed off and made to feel horrible for following the rules and doing as I was asked by the parole department.
The morning of June 21, with great fear and anxiety, I came to do the exchange. An officer - Special Constable Mark Chapelle - walked in and stopped to talk to my son and I, and he knew my son and why we were there. He took a few minutes to talk with me and read the order I had brought with me. He was very kind and respectful, and without even knowing he calmed my nerves and restored a small amount of faith back in the department, which made me feel less alone. Several times I saw him look through the window while we waited, which also gave me peace.
I wanted him and everyone else to know how truly appreciative I am to just feel respected and heard. I am not looking for trouble when I come to do the exchange - I just want peace for my son and myself. I just want to feel safe and supported, and the officer that morning did that. Without trying, without judgement, and without victim shaming. So many of our officers could learn so much from this gentleman.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and here’s to hoping all officers learn from him to be as kind, open minded and genuine to all who depend on them to help feel safe in their communities.
He did so much for me that day that words cannot express. Even if you don’t choose him for an award, he will always be a hero to me.