York Regional Police Service

“Active Shooter, advance to contact.” Unfortunately, we know what this means as it conjures up mass shootings like Columbine and Las Vegas from the United States, but it happens here in Canada, too.  And on Friday, December 18, 2022, it happened in Vaughan, Ontario.

The phones began to light up at York Regional Police Communications as call takers began receiving multiple frantic 911 calls from victims and witnesses of an active shooter in their building from multiple different floors of the Bellaria Residence condominium in Vaughan.

One of the initial callers was a shooting victim and described in detail what happened to a YRP Call Taker. Unfortunately, this victim would succumb to their injuries before help arrived. 

The YRP Dispatcher who received and dispatched this call to police officers knew what she was sending her officers to, as all Police Communicators receive extensive training on active shooters as well. So, as she dispatched multiple officers, she knew what they may be facing and had a watchful eye as police officers arrived on scene and was the calm voice in their ears.

Officers are trained to form teams as quickly as they can and advance to contact the active shooter.  This could mean following the sounds of gunfire or witness and victim’s directions.  Officers know the adversity, the danger and risk that they are putting themselves in, but also know that this is what they need to do to save lives and stop an active shooter. The officers began to immediately, rapidly deploy into the building knowing the jeopardy they placed themselves in.

After the first groups of officers arrived, they quickly realized the elevators of the 16-floor building were grounded due to the suspect pulling the fire alarm. The first officers planned and made smart decisions on how to respond and split into smaller groups in an immediate rapid deployment.  Officers in teams ran up the two separate stairwells. One group was assigned to start making their way to the known injured party in the penthouse. The others were looking for other victims or the active shooter. 

Within four minutes after police arrived on scene, the subject was found in the hallway of the third floor and neutralized as he was hunting for more victims to shoot but was he the only active shooter remained to be determined.   The advancing teams located several victims and rendered first aid where they could while other officers continued to clear the building unaware there was only one suspect.

When one defines what a hero is, many often think of a person(s) whose actions are responsible for changing the life of one person or the lives of many. The officers in this situation all entered knowing what they could possibly face but found the strength to endure and manage what faced them and did not let it deter them.

It was quickly determined that this gunman had taken the lives of 5 separate civilians and severely injured one.  

All the members dealing with and responding to this event are heroes, including the Communication Call Takers, Dispatchers, Uniformed members, and plain-clothes officers. The act of heroism and bravery was putting others before themselves.

Jenny Bailot - Thunder Bay Police Service

Jenny Bailot is serving a community with the highest per capita murder rate and a drug problem often ignored by the provincial powers focused on the GTA. Apart from her service to our community as a dedicated police officer, her success off duty is being a role model and mother raising three children despite a challenging schedule and a career as a police officer. She is raising responsible children; her youngest daughter has to carry her own hockey bag (almost the same size as hers) up the front steps and into the house. Her eldest child arrives home and, without fail, walks the dog before others come home. This police officer, apart from her service to this often-troubled community, is managing to raise three well-adjusted, responsible humans. I am retired and live across the street. Despite a gruelling work schedule, I witness Jenny’s dedication to her active family. She is an outstanding role model. In addition to serving our community and putting herself in harm's way every day, Jeny’s energy and dedication while off duty are remarkable and equally beneficial to our community. Many people could not juggle all that she does remarkably every day.

Cst. Cory Cowan - Windsor Police Service

Cory has been an incredible support system for me during my battles with depression and anxiety. His consistent willingness to make time for me, offering comfort and understanding, has made a profound impact on my well-being

Cst. Tammie Staples - Port Hope Police Service

Tammie Staples is truly an invaluable asset to the Port Hope community. Her dedication to supporting and uplifting the youth through various initiatives demonstrates her deep compassion and commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Tammie's Jammies is a remarkable initiative that provides essential clothing and spreads warmth and comfort to those in need. By collecting thousands of pairs of pajamas for organizations like Highland Shores CAS and the Children’s Foundation, she has undoubtedly brought joy and relief to many families.

Her efforts during prom season, organizing a suit and dress drive for local teens, further exemplify her generosity and desire to ensure that all young people have the opportunity to partake in memorable experiences without financial barriers.

Moreover, Tammie's dedication to education and support through the youth group drop-in center is commendable. By addressing important topics such as bullying, sexting, social media, and LGBTQ+ issues, she creates a safe and inclusive space for young individuals to learn, grow, and express themselves freely.

Tammie's kind-hearted nature and genuine willingness to engage with others make her not only an effective community leader but also a trusted confidant and mentor. Her positive impact resonates deeply within the Port Hope community, leaving a lasting legacy of compassion, empowerment, and unity.

Ian West - Thunder Bay Police Service

I am writing to nominate Ian West for the Community Hero Award for their exceptional dedication, compassion, and commitment to serving our community. As a community service provider and a person with lived experience, I have witnessed Ian's tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to positively impacting the lives of those around them.

Ian West exemplifies the qualities of a true community hero. They consistently go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety and well-being of our community members. Whether patrolling our streets, responding to emergencies, or engaging with residents, Ian approaches their role with integrity, professionalism, and a genuine desire to make a difference.

What truly sets Ian West apart is their genuine care and concern for the individuals they serve. They take the time to listen to community members, offer support and assistance, and build meaningful connections that foster trust and collaboration. Their compassionate approach to law enforcement has earned them the respect and admiration of colleagues and community members.

In addition to their exemplary service as a police officer, Ian West is known for their honesty, integrity, and willingness to go the extra mile to help others. They consistently demonstrate a strong sense of duty and a commitment to upholding the highest ethical standards in their work, earning them the trust and admiration of all who have the privilege of working alongside them.

I wholeheartedly believe that Ian West deserves the Community Hero Award for their outstanding contributions to our community. Their selfless dedication, caring nature, and unwavering commitment to service make them a true inspiration and role model.

Heidi O'Neill - Halton Regional Police Service

For the 2024 Police Hero Award, I would like to nominate Heidi O’Neill. Heidi has been an important piece in both my and my sister's life. In 2017, my sister and I were going through a hard time with family, and we felt lost. We didn’t understand our rights and what we were capable of doing to navigate the situation we were facing. We were introduced to Heidi by our principal, and she helped us navigate our situation and motivated us the entire way. Heidi was always invested in our growth, she was always willing to help us in times of need. She came to all of our extracurricular activities and helped instil confidence that we were building. Heidi helped develop us into who we are today. Now, my sister and I are working in the emergency response profession to follow in the footsteps of Heidi. She changed our lives and gave us the tools we needed to succeed. She was such an important part of our lives and deserves this award!

Jacqueline Ross - Halton Regional Police Service

This year I would like to nominate Sgt Jacqueline Ross for this award. Jacquie has been a part of my and my sister's life for 7 years now. When I first met Jacquie, I was at my lowest point; I felt like I had no one. Jacquie came in when I needed it most and showed me what it feels like to have someone in your corner. Someone who supports you, who cares for you and wants to see you succeed. This was the first time in a long time that I felt worthy. What makes Jacquie so special is this is more than just a job for her, she is passionate about her work and cares for each and every person she encounters. Her job is her passion, and this is a quality you don’t see often. From there, I knew Jacquie would be a friend forever. Throughout the remainder of my post-secondary education, Jacquie was cheering me on. Jacquie was my support system, and she was my family. To this day, my relationship with Jacquie is very important to me, which is why I chose an occupation where I get to help people every day. I hope to have the same positive impact on people as Jacquie did on me.
Jacquie ran a proaction program to promote women’s confidence, positive relationships, and interactions with the police service. This program consisted of weekly runs and fitness activities, which allowed the group to establish teamwork skills, build confidence and form trusting relationships with everyone. It allowed us to develop positive relationships with officers in the region and know we are supported by these officers each and every day.
There is no one more deserving of this award than her.

Cst. Adam McEachern - York Regional Police Service

Constable Adam McEachern embodies the YRP motto of 'Deeds Speak'; this is shown through his incredibly valiant and dedicated charity work. In recent years, Adam has drawn tons of attention and support for this autism fundraiser. A cause he holds dear after his son was placed on the spectrum at 3.5 years old.

It began in 2021 when Adam decided to raise funds for Kerry's Place, a service that assists autistic children and their families. To raise funds, Adam took on the unfathomable task of doing the 24-hour "Murph" Challenge, which entails a 34-mile run, 5,100 squats, 3,400 push-ups, and 1,700 pull-ups!

After completing that fundraiser, Adam raised over $11,000 for the charity. Since then, Adam has done a similar and equally gruelling 24-hour challenge every year. In that time, Adam has raised over $80,000 for Kerry's Place, with a goal of raising another $50,000 this year!

Adam also spends time teaching Brazilian jujitsu to fellow first responders to give them an edge when faced with physical assault and altercations.

It is clear that Adam not only values his community but, more importantly, those who need our help the most. Adam is absolutely a Community Hero!

Danielle Ellis - Ontario Provincial Police

Danielle is a dedicated member of the Ontario Provincial Police. She is also a wife and mother of two beautiful girls. Danielle has always wanted to get into policing since she was young. She was extremely proud when she became a member of the Ontario Provincial Police Auxiliary unit. She is a court services officer who takes pride in her work and gives it her all! She is such an amazing woman and always willing to help and lend a hand. She was also a volunteer firefighter and took extreme pride in those duties as well!

Cst. Amy Phillipo - London Police Service

My kids and I met Amy at a Santa Claus event. She was gracious, sweet and funny as she greeted us at the station. My daughter, who has epilepsy, and my son, who has autism, were looking forward to seeing Santa! Amy went the extra mile to make them feel comfortable by getting to know them and willingly taking a photo with us (and Santa)!

We enjoyed the heartfelt conversations and realized that there is nothing to fear about people in uniform who risk their lives every day to protect their community members.

Thank you, Amy, for your kindness - I hope this Hero reward touches your heart just as you have touched ours.