HAMILTON AUXILIARY POLICE CELEBRATE 50 YEARS
By Billy-Joe Cedillos
By Billy-Joe Cedillos
999 words – MR
Celebrating 50 years of volunteerism
Hamilton Police Service Auxiliary Branch
by Billy-Joe Cedillos & Christina Topic
The Hamilton Police Service (HPS) Auxiliary Branch is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Recruits for the first unit, also known as the EMO (Emergency Measures Organization), were trained at the Hamilton Armouries. Much like today, their duties included crowd control and traffic direction at local events.
The unit has assumed added responsibility as its capabilities were recognized, especially over the past year. HPS Chief Glenn De Caire increased the unit’s size to 100 officers in 2011 and new candidates must now pass the PREP test, which includes the same requirements as the ATS standards for regular police constables across Canada.
Recruit training includes seven weeks of in-class instruction covering such topics as dress and decorum, the charter, risk management, harassment and discrimination, crime scene management and protection, notebooks, quality standard services and traffic direction. This is followed by 36 hours of use of force training.
Auxiliary officers are encouraged to maintain their fitness following graduation. The unit began annual testing this year for the Ontario Police Fitness Award.
HPS Auxiliary Constables logged 16,000 hours in 1966. That increased to nearly 22,000 hours in 2011. Some of our members attain a large part of those hours individually and are recognized for their outstanding performance and commitment. Our longest serving member, Jim Antinori, joined in 1963 as the first official EMO and served faithfully until his retirement in 2010.
Some of the unit’s most essential services include crime prevention initiatives such as safeguard audits, which see trained officers giving homeowners advice and options on how to protect their home and families. Officers also work with the mounted patrol unit, riding and walking as part of the ACTION Team (deployed based on an ongoing analysis of locations, crime trends and offenders), train with the K9 and public order units and work on our CCTV program.
Auxiliaries patrol at Hamilton Tiger Cat football games and help ensure order at the annual Around the Bay Road Race and Hamilton International Air Show. The unit formed both a marching team and photography unit this year and also helped service the HPS command van and bike fleet. After receiving specialized training, several auxiliary officers recently began assisting the HPS recruiting officers at information sessions throughout the community.
The HPS Auxiliary Unit was part of an anti-violence submission that is now a finalist for the International Webber Seavey Award for 2012 and was recognized by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce in 2011. The unit also received the IACP Volunteers in Police Service Award this year, prompting this extraordinary letter from Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
<I am pleased to extend my sincere congratulations to the members of the Hamilton Police Service… Invaluable resources such as the auxiliary unit, the victim services unit and the community policing centres provide an opportunity for citizens to contribute their time and talent to making the city safer. Indeed, every year, over 100,000 hours of volunteer services in crime reduction, crime prevention and public safety help to make the law enforcement service in Hamilton one of the finest in our country.
The Hamilton Police Service is the first Canadian police service to be presented with this prestigious award. I commend the remarkable dedication and community spirit of all those who have earned this award: by working together, you have made your city a better place in which to live.>
Serving the community as an Auxiliary officer is “a great privilege and honour,” one constable noted recently. “I have had the opportunity to be a positive influence in my city… I love being able to assist the public with their questions and concerns and you really feel that you are giving back to your community in a positive way, especially when you attend ‘special events’ such as fairs and parades.
“People are always grateful and thankful for your presence along with regular officers, as it brings a sense of safety and contentment to the people of our community. If you speak to any Auxiliary constable… professionalism and commitment is a common ground; even though we are not a sworn PC, we take our role as a volunteer very seriously and do not underestimate the difference we make through our professionalism and commitment to the service.”
De Caire is a strong, enthusiastic supporter of the unit. He recognizes the importance of its role and stresses that the efforts and commitment of officers do not go unnoticed. The unit is a significant part of the HPS commitment to reduce crime, increase awareness and create a safer city for residents and visitors, he notes.
As Auxiliaries we are able to represent our service with pride and professionalism every year in our Number 1 dress at the Ottawa and Ontario police memorials. It is a great honour to stand alongside other police services, sworn and volunteer.
A major change to unit scheduling was introduced this year. Auxiliary Online Scheduling (AOS) allows members to login from home and see a real time schedule. They can assign themselves to training or an event and communicate with other members. Gone are the days when you sent out e-mails to 100 officers looking for assistance. This has dramatically improved all communication within the unit. While there are still some bugs to be worked out and additional features added, AOS has been a huge success.
Most recently, we activated a Twitter account, @HPSAuxiliary, an effective way to share the good work of our unit, promote our image and recruit more volunteers.
Moving forward, the HPS Auxiliary Unit anticipates even greater success in the coming years as it continues to strive towards excellence and commitment in serving our great community.
Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.
Aux/Cst Billy-Joe Cedillos and Aux/Sgt Christina Topic both serve with the HPS Auxiliary Unit. The service planned a gala celebration Nov. 21 to celebrate its 50 years of volunteerism.