2020 South Simcoe Police Service Recognition Awards
(Bradford/Innisfil, ON) The 2020 South Simcoe Police Service Recognition Awards were held on Thursday, November 19, 2020. This year, as we have come to expect, the event was different due to the pandemic. The audience of family members, friends and dignitaries watched via Zoom and everyone who attended in person wore masks and kept apart to stay safe. The awards highlighted the bravery, the ingenuity and the determination of our officers, while also recognizing some of our citizen heroes.
Police Exemplary Service Medal for 30 Years of Service
Inspector John Van Dyke
John was born and raised in Bradford and still has very strong family ties to the community that was his home for twenty-five years. His roots in Bradford West Gwillimbury run deep, with his grandparents immigrating to Canada from the Netherlands in 1929 and settling in the Holland Marsh to farm. John joined the Bradford Police Force in January 1989 as an Auxiliary constable, and then as a full-time constable in October of that year. Since that time he has enjoyed assignments as a Constable in front line patrol and Criminal Investigations, before being promoted to Sgt in 2001, S/Sgt in 2006 and Inspector in 2016. John has supervised a variety of units within the Service, and was also the Service representative for oversight of the Pan Am games and the shooting events held in Innisfil in 2015.
Police Exemplary Service Medal for 20 Years of Service
Constable Wes Brown
Wes began his policing career in 2000 with Peel Regional Police after graduating from the Police Foundations Program at Georgian College. He moved closer to home in 2002 when he joined the South Simcoe Police. Wes has worked in uniform patrol and in 2005 became a member of the Emergency Response Unit, a unit that he now oversees as Acting Sergeant. In 2008 Wes was assigned to the Training Branch and is responsible for all in-service training and re-qualifications for the organization. Wes is a certified instructor in a variety of use of force weapons, First Aid, CPR, and Search and Rescue. He is also trained as a member of the Service’s Marine, ATV and Snowmobile units. Wes is a member of the Ontario Association of Police Educators, and in 2018 was elected to the OAPE Executive, and currently holds the position of Treasurer. Wes has a passion for training and influencing new and experienced officers within the South Simcoe Police Service. He also enjoys engaging and collaborating with members of the community and he continues to take every opportunity he can to represent policing and the South Simcoe PS at a variety of community events.
Constable Carlos Pinho
After graduating from Seneca College in May 1995, Carlos joined the Auxiliary Unit in April 1999, where he remained as an active member until being hired as a Constable in Feb 2000. Carlos has spent the first few years of his career as a front line patrol constable before being assigned to the Traffic Unit in 2002. Carlos is a qualified Breathalyzer technician, and is trained as a Collision Reconstructionist, and scenes of crime officer. Carlos returned to front line patrol in 2008, and since that time has been supporting the Recruiting Bureau, and was trained as a coach officer, responsible for the development of many new officers over the years.
Most recently Carlos was seconded to the Community Mobilization Unit where he assisted as a member of Crisis Outreach and Support Unit, specially trained in crisis intervention. He has a number of commendations and letters of thanks in his file and has volunteered with a number of organizations, and continues to support a variety of local initiatives.
Staff Sergeant Henry Geoffroy
Henry started out working in the private sector before making a career change to become a police officer in 1999. He first worked in Toronto but then joined the South Simcoe Police Service in 2002. Henry has served in such areas as the Primary Response Unit, the Traffic & Marine Unit, the Training Branch, and he also served as a member of the Emergency Response Unit. In 2017 Henry was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, where he was assigned as a patrol sergeant and in 2018 took over as the Supervisors of the Support Services Unit, which oversees the Community Mobilization and Engagement Unit, the Crisis Outreach and Support Team, and Community Services Officers. Henry was promoted to Staff Sergeant in 2019 and currently manages Operations Support which includes Administration and the Communications Unit. Henry is also a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work with the Police Association of Ontario and Canadian Police Association Boards.
Citizen Award – Cindy Rossit, Barry Stanley, Tanya Mapp and Mallorie Wild
These citizen heroes saved a tiny life this summer by stepping up in the most dire of emergencies – a baby, abandoned in a scorching hot car. Every year we issue warnings not to leave a loved one or a pet in a hot vehicle because it could kill them.
On Friday, June 26, 2020, around 12:50 p.m., police were called to a plaza parking lot on Innisfil Beach Road in Alcona by citizens who located a baby, alone inside a locked vehicle. The windows were rolled all the way up. The one-month-old boy appeared to be in distress. Citizens on scene quickly mobilized. One person smashed a front window and opened the car door while others jumped into rescue the child and take him to the safety of an air conditioned store. Citizens placed cool water on his hands and feet in an attempt to cool him down. It took approximately five minutes before the baby began to stir again and cry. County of Simcoe Paramedics attended and transported the baby to a local hospital as a precaution.
A 40-year-old Innisfil woman was arrested at the scene and charged with Failing to Provide the Necessities of Life.
Excellence in Investigation – Constable Terri McCallum and Constable Leslie Grace of the Forensic Identification Unit
Constable Terri McCallum and Constable Leslie Grace of the Forensic Identification Unit played key roles in an investigation that began with an armed robbery at a coffee shop in Bradford.
On November 7, 2011, at approximately 12:40 a.m., a lone suspect entered a coffee shop wearing gloves and a balaclava and brandished a handgun before taking money from the till. The lone female employee in the shop was traumatized. The two forensic investigators scoured the scene locating two key pieces of evidence that linked the accused to the armed robbery. DNA from saliva found on the sidewalk and a fingerprint that was on a bag the suspect brought into the store were key pieces of evidence that would eventually lead to this crime being solved 9 years later.
In the spring of 2017, South Simcoe Police Service was notified of a crime scene hit from the National DNA Databank, matching a fingerprint from the scene to the same suspect. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, a 27-year-old Aurora man was arrested and charged in connection with the robbery. And in February of this year, this male was found guilty of robbery with use of an imitation firearm and was subsequently sentenced to 1 year in jail for the robbery and 3 months for wearing a disguise.
If not for the skill of PC McCallum and PC Grace in securing the evidence, this crime would have remained unsolved.
Excellence in Investigation – Detective Constable Holly Murray, Detective Constable Andrew Smith, both of the SSPS Criminal Investigation Bureau, and OPP Detective Constable Kip Whohlert of the Ontario Provincial Police Child Exploitation Unit
This award encompasses three, separate, complex, international child pornography, extortion and luring investigations and is being presented to DC Murray, DC Smith, and OPP DC Whohlert for their inter-agency cooperation, advanced investigative techniques and teamwork.
In early 2019, the South Simcoe Police Service was notified by the RCMP that a male suspect from Innisfil had been luring a 12-year-old girl from outside of Ontario and extorting her to engage in Child Pornography images and videos. In February 2019, a search warrant was executed at an Innisfil residence and a 22-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with Child Luring, Child Pornography and extortion offences. Evidence found in this investigation led led to the identification of other child victims living outside of Canada. Investigators teamed up with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Georgia and identified a 14-year-old girl who was about to board a Greyhound bus to come to Canada to be with the accused.
As a result of this investigation, the Innisfil accused was further charged with child luring and child pornography offences related to the young girl in Georgia.
On Thursday, June 4, 2020, the accused pleaded guilty to a number of charges and is currently awaiting sentencing.
As the officers continued to work through this investigation in the fall of 2019, they also learned of another 10-year-old female victim from Innisfil who had sent intimate images of herself to an unknown person on a social media platform.
Smith and Wohlert once again joined forces with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and conducted a technical investigation that identified a suspect who was residing in Florida. Smith contacted the Punta Gorda Police Department in Florida and assisted them in furthering the investigation that eventually led to the arrest of the male in Florida.
Investigators also learned of a 13-year-old female victim from Bradford who had also shared sexually explicit images of herself to an unknown person through a social media platform. The suspect went so far as to send the victim a cellular phone so that she could communicate with him without her parents’ knowledge.
Murray and Wohlert teamed up and initiated a covert operation where Wholert assumed the identity of the victim and communicated with the suspect gathering valuable evidence.
In March of 2020 officers in Baldwin Park California executed search warrants on the suspect’s house and an overwhelming amount of evidence was located with respect to the Bradford victim.
These investigations once again shed the light on our vulnerable youth who are sadly being exploited through the sharing of personal images and we cannot stress more the importance of parents educating their children on the proper use of the internet.
Investigators Murray, Smith and Wohlert are being recognized tonight for the excellence in investigations and the teamwork that resulted in these international child exploitation cases coming to a successful conclusion, demonstrating the value of collaboration.
Excellence In Investigations – Detective Sergeant Kai Johnson
Det. Sgt. Kai Johnson was honoured for his tenacity and leadership in a precedent-setting investigation involving the tragic overdose death of a young man in Innisfil.
On April 10, 2017, a 23-year-old male was found deceased in his Innisfil home. Toxicology results confirmed he died of an overdose of fentanyl and heroin. Police quickly determined the identity of one suspect in the male’s death but a second suspect was unknown. The detailed and complex investigation that followed resulted in the arrest of two men on trafficking charges. Both were subsequently charged with manslaughter. Evidence collected during the investigation included search warrants on 13 cell phones and devices, witness statements, Centre of Forensic Sciences pathology and coroner reports, Health Canada reports and consultations with the crown attorney’s office.
As a result, a 25-year-old Innisfil man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years for Criminal Negligence Causing Death and a 3-year concurrent sentence for Trafficking Fentanyl.
A 55-year-old Innisfil man was also convicted of Trafficking Fentanyl and served nearly three years in pre-trial custody.
This investigation was historic due to the fact it was one of the first in the country for manslaughter charges to be laid in a drug overdose death. Numerous police agencies have called us to inquire about this case.
Excellence in Investigations and Teamwork – Constable Jon Ellis and Detective Constable Andrew Smith
This investigation highlights the power of front line officers and specialized units working together. The investigation began when Cst. Ellis received information while investigating another occurrence that resulted in Ellis and Smith working together to obtain a search warrant for a residence in Innisfil. On May 17, 2019, members of the South Simcoe Police Criminal Investigation Unit, Community Mobilization and Engagement Unit, Emergency Response Unit and Uniform officers executed the search warrant at a residence in Belle Ewart in the Town of Innisfil. During the search warrant, police seized three loaded guns – 2 handguns and one long gun, all located in plain view. Numerous drugs and cash were also seized, and a small illegal marijuana grow operation was dismantled by police. A 23-year-old man from Belle Ewart was arrested and charged with numerous firearms and drug related offences. This case is still before the courts.
This investigation is a good example of our members working in collaboration with each other to share information and build a case together. Through the exceptional teamwork of Ellis and Smith, drugs and guns were removed from the streets of our community, clearly demonstrating the South Simcoe Police Services’ commitment to public safety.
Excellence in Emergency Response – 911 Communicator Caitlin Summers
This occurrence is a perfect example of the critical role 911 communicators play in public safety while demonstrating calm and quick-thinking under extreme pressure.
On October 8, 2019, Communicator Caitlin Summers received a 911 cell phone call from a cell phone which provided no call back number or location. Summers could hear a male and a female screaming and quickly determined the female was very afraid for her safety. Summers could not immediately establish voice contact but stayed on the line while documenting the details she could hear. Summers eventually established some voice contact with the woman who indicated she was in Barrie but could no longer talk because the suspect was back. The woman was continually crying and at times hysterical. “Help me. Please help me,” she whispered to Summers.
Unbeknownst to the male in the car with her, the female caller kept the line open and tried to give Summers clues as to where and what direction he was taking her in hopes of sharing something that could assist police in locating them. This information led Summers to contact Barrie Police to ask them to check an area where Summers believed them to be. Summers was also able to acquire the male’s name by listening intently to what the victim was saying which assisted Barrie Police in determining that the male was the same suspect they were looking for in an assault call from earlier that day. The man had an extensive criminal record and was considered armed and dangerous.
Communicator Summers remained on the line and continued to relay information to Barrie Police so that they could locate the woman. The woman continued to mention some landmarks at their current location, without arousing suspicion from the suspect. Summers remained on the line for 31 minutes and as a result of her actions, Barrie Police eventually located the vehicle as it was attempting to head out of the city.
The man was arrested without incident and the woman was brought to safety.
Summers remained calm and professional under very difficult circumstances and by utilizing her training and experience, she can proudly say that she saved the victim that day.
Excellence in Emergency Response – Constable Devon Northrup and Constable Gerald Crane
The expression, “seconds can save lives” could not be more true in regards to the following urgent situation.
On Wednesday, May 20, 2020 around 12:30 a.m., South Simcoe Police Service officers were called about a person in crisis who had contacted family members by phone and text stating that he was going to end his life. Northrup and Crane wasted no time in getting to the scene which was a locked garage of a home in Innisfil. While en route to the residence the officers obtained the garage code so that they could access the residence. Once on scene, the officers could hear a vehicle running in the garage and knew from family updates that the man was no longer texting. Fearing for the man’s life, officers quickly gained entry to the garage and located the man in the back seat of the locked vehicle. Crane and Northrup broke out the rear passenger window in order to bring the man to safety. He was assessed on scene by paramedics, apprehended under the Mental Health Act and transported to hospital.The officers can take comfort in knowing they saved this man’s life that day, and have hopefully connected him to services to assist in his recovery.
Excellence in Emergency Response – Constables Carl Jarvis, Ashley Fairbarn, David Oxley and Firefighters from Innisfil Fire and Emergency Services Chris Blackett and Dustin Cooper
On Sunday, July 12, 2020, around 7:30 p.m., the South Simcoe Police Service, Innisfil Fire and Rescue, and Simcoe County Paramedics responded to a 911 call for reports of a person in crisis in Lake Simcoe. Witnesses who observed the man swim away from shore directed officers to where the man was last seen. Constable Oxley and firefighters Cooper and Blackett boarded a boat belonging to a civilian who offered assistance and proceeded to the area where the man was in the water and tried to speak with him. The man did not respond to offers of help and continued to swim further away from shore. Marine One, operated by Cst Jarvis and Fairbarn was also dispatched to the area, and upon arrival Cst Oxley and firefighters Cooper and Blackett transferred onto the police vessel. Cst Fairbarn safely operated the police vessel to stay close to the man, while Cst Jarvis took over communication with the man, attempting to build a rapport over time, and convince him to come out of the water. The man was distraught and continued to swim away from shore. Cst Jarvis eventually entered Lake Simcoe and swam alongside the man, continuing to earn his trust until he eventually accepted help and agreed to join Jarvis on the police boat.
Approximately one hour after the Marine Unit had arrived on scene, the situation was resolved and the man was brought to safety aboard Marine 1 where he was transported to shore where he was examined by paramedics and cleared medically. He was later transferred to hospital and treated for mental health concerns and connected with services to help him.
We would like to recognize the actions of everyone involved in saving a life that night. From the witnesses on shore to the boater who assisted with the initial response, to all the members of our emergency services team. This is truly a case of everyone coming together to make a difference and thankfully this occurrence ended with a man’s life being saved.