Blue Line

Policing with passion: Cst. Veronica Fast, Blue Line’s 2024 Rookie of the Year

April 4, 2024  By Brittani Schroeder

Photo: Hamilton Police Service Public Affairs Unit

To those who knew Cst. Veronica Fast growing up, it was no surprise when she chose a career in law enforcement. From an early age, Fast was driven by the desire to have a career that provided a sense of purpose and pride, where she could make a meaningful impact and assist those in need. She was also drawn to the teamwork and social dynamics inherent in the policing profession, as well as the opportunities for personal growth and development.

“I’ve always seen policing as a dynamic career path where continuous learning, adaptation and personal challenges are integral, and this is something I find endlessly rewarding and motivating,” she said.

Attending to the needs of others

As a member of the Hamilton Police Service (HPS), Fast actively engages in “Park and Walks” as part of the Service’s proactive policing approach to ensure public safety while fostering positive community connections. The goal is to instill a sense of security among community members and create opportunities for meaningful interactions.

During a Park and Walk patrol in June 2023, Fast and her partner encountered a distressed woman stranded in her disabled electric wheelchair. Her wheelchair had unexpectedly stopped working, leaving her stationary for over two hours with nighttime quickly approaching. Without hesitation, the two officers sprang into action and assisted the woman by manually pushing her home and fixing the wheelchair charger to prevent future incidents.


“This wasn’t a typical call for service, but it showed our commitment to supporting community members in times of need. I was grateful for the opportunity to provide assistance and make a positive impact beyond the scope of our regular duties.”

Over the last two years as an officer, Fast has learned that when it comes to serving those in need, interactions and the treatment of victims are some of the most important aspects of the job.

“It is easy to feel rushed when going from call to call, but victims are calling us on their worst day. We must give them the time, compassion and effort that they deserve and to support them in any way that we can.”

During an October 2023 response to a domestic in progress involving a firearm, Fast was among the first into the residence as the team tactically cleared the house from room to room. What made this call unique were the victims: a mother, who spoke little English, and three young children who were terrified and traumatized.

“Cst. Fast did many things right that day. Above all, she was able to tend to the victims and provide support throughout the investigation. She was able to sit with the children while the mother was interviewed, watching cartoons and colouring, and demonstrating what it means to be a police officer,” says Sgt. Chelsea Knowles.

Supporting local Special Olympians

In addition to her on-duty role in the community, Fast spends countless hours of her time supporting fundraising initiatives. Cops N’ Rodders is a vehicle show organized annually by the Law Enforcement Torch Run Committee in Hamilton that supports Special Olympics Ontario. In 2023, when Fast learned about the event’s need for extra help, she jumped at the chance to contribute, even on her day off. Having previously volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters for five years, she knew that if she could lend a hand, she would.

At this event, Fast assisted with vehicle registration and explained to participants how their fees would benefit individuals with intellectual disabilities by funding sports programs.

“Witnessing the generosity of participants, who often donated beyond the registration fee, was incredibly heartening.”

In 2023 alone, Cops N’ Rodders raised over $32,000 for Special Olympics Ontario, bringing the total donation over the past nine years to over $96,000.

“This day is extremely busy, can be challenging dealing with many personalities, and very long given the sun and heat. Cst. Fast met the task with unmatched energy and a smile,” said Sgt. Knowles.

Also in attendance at the Cops N’ Rodders event was Parker Gerdingh, a local Special Olympian.

After Parker was seen admiring the “Venom” Mustang showcased there, the owner of the car offered to chauffeur Parker to his Grade 12 Prom in style. Parker is also highly interested in law enforcement, so to ensure Parker had a prom night he would never forget, a female officer was sought out to accompany him to the formal event. This is where Fast was brought in.

Together with her colleague, Fast surprised Parker during his pre-prom photoshoot with Hamilton Police Service’s new camera car.

“I had the privilege of walking arm-in-arm with Parker into his prom, where he celebrated with his friends and classmates. Being part of such a significant milestone for Parker was immensely rewarding, and it’s a memory I’ll cherish indefinitely.”

“Cst. Fast proves every day that leadership is an activity, not a position, and this is realized through her commitment to servant leadership, community outreach and excellence in delivering public safety.” – Insp. Greg Doerr, Hamilton Police Service

Committing to personal and communal goals

To meet a personal fitness goal while still serving others, Fast joined the “Squad Health Challenge Fundraiser” with her colleagues.

This challenge began as a personal health challenge between two coworkers: if one achieved their health goal, the other would donate $500 to their chosen charity—otherwise, they would donate to the other’s chosen charity. This challenge quickly evolved into a squad-wide initiative, fostering inclusivity and collective motivation.

Personal goals were set, whether they be weight loss, gain, maintenance, or other personal fitness achievements, with a measurable target to accomplish by a specific date. Those who did not meet their goals contributed $100 to a communal pot. Toques were also sold to help fundraise for the selected charity, which culminated in a total of $2,000 raised. The full pot was ultimately donated to Special Olympics Ontario.

“Participating in this challenge was not only personally rewarding but also a testament to the power of teamwork and support within the squad. It reminded us of the importance of camaraderie and collective effort in achieving both personal and communal goals, and I will carry this with me throughout my career as a police officer.”

Recognizing fallen officers and their families

Fast’s dedication to serving others applies to her fellow officers as much as it does to her community. In September 2023, she took part in the annual National Peace Officer Memorial Run, a solemn event that spans three days and covers a relay-style distance of 460 km, from the Ontario Police Memorial site in Toronto to the National Memorial on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

“This held deep significance for me, as it epitomizes one of the fundamental values of the policing community: unwavering support for one another. This run serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by brave officers in service to their communities.”

Fast also recognizes that this event is a chance to support the families who are left behind. “Through the collective efforts of my family, friends and colleagues, I had the privilege of selling 70 shirts, raising $1,400 in funds. The experience of participating in the run was profoundly moving and left an indelible mark on me.”

Fast described the journey as “filled with emotional intensity”, as she witnessed the names engraved on the Memorial Wall and heard the stories of each fallen officer. She continually encourages all peace officers to seize the opportunity to participate in this event.

Rookie of the Year and beyond

Fast was notified in January that she’d been selected as this year’s Rookie of the Year, and she felt a “mixture of shock and honour”. She couldn’t help but acknowledge the support and guidance that she has received from her squad members, coaches and supervisors.

“Their influence has been instrumental in shaping my journey and providing me with invaluable opportunities. I firmly believe that the environment in which one works plays a significant role in determining their trajectory, and I am immensely grateful to be part of a team filled with passionate individuals.”

“The Hamilton Police Service is extremely proud of the efforts and actions of Cst. Veronica Fast, and she has proven to be an excellent ambassador for our organization and for policing as a profession,” says Insp. Doerr.

Fast has learned so much in her short time as a police officer. The most vital lesson she’s gleaned to date is the importance of maintaining the same level of passion that propelled her into this career initially.

“It’s undeniable that a strong passion is a prerequisite for navigating the rigorous hiring and training processes. Sustaining that passion is what facilitates natural engagement with the community, going above and beyond, and exhibiting compassion in every interaction.”

While she acknowledges that maintaining this fervour can be challenging, she recognizes it’s crucial to remind oneself of the initial motivation for choosing this career path. She works alongside a team of passionate police officers and knows that they have been instrumental in her ability to continue learning, growing and finding genuine fulfillment in her work.

A thank you to all rookies

Over the past several years, rookies have gone above and beyond in their roles as police officers. They started their careers in a tumultuous time, and still show up day after day ready to serve their communities.

Along with recognizing our award winner, Cst. Veronica Fast, Blue Line sends out a thank you to all rookies for the work they have done and continue to do on a daily basis. Other honourable mentions from this year’s pool of nominees include (in alphabetical order): Cst. Chelsey Hutley (Kentville Police Service), Cst. Riley Genier (Nishnawbe Aski Police Service), Cst. Sierra Durigon (York Regional Police Service), and Cst. Vyacheslav Biryukov (Toronto Police Service)

Be sure to look for the next nomination period of the Blue Line Rookie of the Year Award in late 2024.


Christine Silverberg served as Chief of the Calgary Police Service from 1995 to 2000. Christine then became a lawyer, representing diverse clients in civil, administrative and high-conflict family law. Throughout her careers in policing and law, Christine has received multiple awards, honours and distinctions. Christine holds a B.A., M.A., and LL.B., holds numerous certifications and is a Qualified Arbitrator. In 2021, Christine was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) in honour of her outstanding contributions.

Peter German was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 31 years, serving across Canada in uniform and plainclothes duties, including as Director General Financial Crime, Lower Mainland Commander and Deputy Commissioner West. He later served as Regional Deputy Commissioner (Pacific) for Correctional Service Canada. He currently practices law, is a consultant on criminal justice and leadership matters, and is president of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform at the University of British Columbia.

Armand La Barge is the retired Chief of York Regional Police and the Past Chair of Trent University. He is the past president of the OACP, Ontario Director of the CACP, and he was an associate member of the First Nation Chiefs of Police Association. Armand has received multiple awards and honors including the Order of Police Merit and the Order of Ontario. He has a Ph. D and M.A. in Criminal Justice, and an M.A. in Canadian and Indigenous Studies. He currently serves as a member of the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

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