2019 Service Recognition Awards 

(Innisfil, ON)  The South Simcoe Police Service recently celebrated the best of our communities at the 2019 Service Recognition Awards in Innisfil.  

Chief Andrew Fletcher and Deputy Chief Robin McElary-Downer welcomed dignitaries, family members and friends at the Innisfil Community Church as we honoured members of the police service, some outstanding citizens and great journalism.

The 2019 Service Recognition Awards recognized excellence in policing that included bravery, tenacity, determination, life-saving emergency response and teamwork. A number of citizens were also honoured for stepping forward and demonstrating acts of bravery and courage in responding to emergency situations or acts of honesty, integrity and good citizenship – citizens who indeed have made a difference. Media awards were presented to local news agencies who have told a story or taken a photograph capturing the professionalism and dedication of members of the South Simcoe Police Service engaged in their duties.

Several officers and Auxiliary officers, along with a civilian 9-1-1 Communicator were presented with Police Exemplary Medals and Medal Bars for 20 and 30 years of service. A number of retired officers were also recognized for their contributions to the service and public safety.

CTV News Barrie Weather Anchor K.C. Colby was the Master of Ceremonies.

Here is the complete list of award recipients:

30 Year Police Exemplary Service Bar 

Sergeant Craig Johnson

Craig started his policing career as an Auxiliary constable with Bradford West Gwillimbury Police & a civilian radio operator. He joined the service as a police constable in 1988 and saw the amalgamation of the Bradford and Innsifil police services in 1998. He performed general duties on platoon and was promoted to Sergeant in September 2001. He was assigned to the Professional Standards Bureau in January 2007. Craig serves the Sergeant in charge of A Platoon.

Constable Terri McCallum

A true blue trail blazer, Terri started with the Innisfil Police Service on October 3, 1988, becoming the first female officer to be hired by the service. Terri has since worked front-line patrol and in specialized units including Traffic & Marine. In 2007, after completing extensive training, Terri was posted to the Forensic Identification Unit where she serves today as an Identification officer.

Staff Sergeant Sheryl Sutton

Sheryl joined South Simcoe Police Service in 1995 after serving seven years with the Toronto Police Service. Since reporting to South Simcoe Police, Sheryl has served in many positions, including front-line patrol, the Emergency Response Unit and the Criminal Investigations Bureau. She was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2007 and Staff Sergeant in January 2018. Sheryl has taken a leadership role in the Service’s Peer Support Unit and she continues to lead the Ceremonial Unit. In January, Sheryl will be assuming the role of Staff Sergeant in the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

South Simcoe Police Service would like to make honourable mention of those who retired in 2019.

They are: Retired Staff Sergeant Lisa HUNT, Retired Constable Jay STANSBURY, Communications Dispatcher Judy STANSBURY and Retired Staff Sergeant Steve WILSON.

Police Exemplary Service for 20 years of service 

Constable Brent MacDonald

Brent joined South Simcoe Police Service in June 2005 after serving with the Sudbury Regional Police as an officer. He started with SSPS as a front-line patrol officer with C platoon. Brent is currently on A Platoon and will be starting his new role in the Training Unit in 2020.

Sergeant Leah Thomas

Leah began her policing career with Toronto Police in 1998. She joined South Simcoe Police Service in November 2002. She was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in January 2016 and became Operations Sergeant effective January 1, 2018. Come January 2020, Leah will assume the leadership of C Platoon as their new patrol sergeant.

Constable Jason VanderSar

Jason started with the Bradford West Gwillimbury Auxiliary Unit in 1995. He became a police constable in the newly formed South Simcoe Police Service in 1998. Jason started with front-line patrol duties, then transferred into the Traffic & Marine Unit. He has since returned to front-line operations and takes up the duties of supervisor in an Acting Sergeant capacity when needed on C platoon.

Sergeant Sean Willan

Sgt. Willan started his career as a court officer with Toronto Police in 1995. He became a police constable in 1996 and after seven years with TPS, joined South Simcoe Police Service. Sean has served in countless roles over his career including the Emergency Response Unit as a constable and later a supervisor and the Criminal Investigations Bureau. In addition to his many contributions, Sean holds the distinction of starting the South Simcoe Police Bicycle Unit in 2007. Currently a Platoon Sergeant, Sean assumes a new post in January as an Operations Sergeant who in addition to other duties, will be the officer in charge of our Communications Unit.

Civilian Member 20-year Service Pin

9-1-1 Communicator Supervisor Sandra Santos

Sandra began her career as a clerk-typist with the York Regional Police before joining South Simcoe Police Service in April 1999. She started in the records department and moved to the Communications Centre . In 2006, Sandra was promoted to Comm Centre supervisor of the C Platoon Communicators.

Excellence in Traffic Safety – Sgt. Dave Phillips

Sergeant Phillips assumed command of the Traffic and Marine Unit in January of 2018. Sergeant Phillips was determined to make a difference and started by enlisting all officers, not just those assigned to the Traffic and Marine Unit, to join in service-wide traffic enforcement strategy. On a daily basis, officers are now assigned traffic complaint zones to address the areas of concern. With boots-on-the-ground leadership, Sergeant Phillips also relentlessly conducted traffic enforcement himself and had many face-to- face meetings with local complainants, often right in their driveways. He attends regular Traffic Committee Meetings in Bradford and Innisfil, offering informed and helpful advice and gleaning valuable feedback. Through his progressive use of social media, Phillips informed a much wider audience about the Service’s ongoing commitment to road safety.

Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award – Special Constable Elisabeth Aschwanden 

‘Officer Elisabeth’, as she is affectionately known, single handedly organizes the Citizens Police Academy (CPA) ‘Seniors Edition’. It is one of the jewels in the South Simcoe Police Service’s crown. The program epitomizes everything we stand for: community engagement, crime prevention, partnerships and caring. Aschwanden has been organizing this very sought-after event for the past four years. A popular fixture as a school resource officer, this dedicated member puts together the line-up of guests for the CPA which includes several South Simcoe Police Service employees and community partners.

Excellence in Investigation/Traffic Initiated – Constable Rob Griffin, Traffic and Marine Unit 

On Thursday, June 27, 2019 Constable Griffin was conducting speed enforcement on Canal Road in the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury. Around 1:00 p.m., he stopped a vehicle to check the sobriety of the driver after he noted the car was travelling below the posted speed. While speaking with the driver, Griffin investigated the driver for impaired driving after he detected a strong smell of marijuana.Following a roadside test, the driver was issued a 3 day, warn-range suspension. Prior to impounding the vehicle, Griffin conducted a search of the car and located a loaded .357 magnum handgun. The driver and a passenger in the car were both placed under arrest and taken in for further investigation. In total, three people were subsequently arrested and charged with multiple weapons-related offences.

Excellence in Investigation/Traffic Initiated – Constable Carl Jarvis, Traffic and Marine Unit

On Saturday, March 16, 2019 around 7:00 p.m., Constable Jarvis was conducting a RIDE spot check in Innisfil. One of the first vehicles he stopped was a van loaded with seven occupants. While speaking with the driver, Constable Jarvis detected an overpowering odour of fresh cannabis from inside the vehicle. He also noted several small green leafy pieces of marijuana in the centre console and driver’s seat area. A search under the Cannabis Act resulted in locating 64 pounds of marijuana with an estimated street value of $250,000.00. The occupants, ranging in age from 50 to 67 were subsequently charged with the multiple offences. In addition to the charges, Constable Jarvis seized the van as offence-related property under the proceeds of crime legislation. One local parent dropped off 13 pizzas to the North Division as a gesture of thanks for seizing the dope before it hit the streets.

Excellence in Investigation

Constables David Caccia, Tyler Howey, Dan Tucker, Andrew Bowen, Shawn Strilec, Mike West, Jon Day, Kyla Thurston, Clint McLellan and Terri McCallum.  

These officers played key roles in an investigation that began with an armed robbery at a gas station in August 2018 and ended with an arrest in February 2019. On Friday, August 31, 2018 around 12:30 a.m., South Simcoe Police Service officers were called to an armed robbery at the Husky Gas Station located on County Road 88 in Bradford. A lone male suspect had entered the gas station, produced a semi-automatic handgun, and demanded cash. After the robbery, the suspect fled in a vehicle – fortunately no one was hurt. After five months of lots of leg work and a thorough, exhaustive investigation, a suspect was located and arrested.

The Service also recognized Cst. West for his contribution in Toronto’s investigation of four separate / random homicides committed in 2011 and 2012 while he was still a member of Toronto Police Service. For a two year period, Mike wrote all the Production Orders and Search Warrants, including the mass takedown papers. Three accused are now serving life sentences behind bars. Toronto Police Service plans to formally acknowledge Mike’s outstanding contribution to the investigation at a later date. We wanted to acknowledge this outstanding police work tonight.

Award for Excellence in Investigation – Acting Sergeant Kai Johnson and York Regional Police Service’s Detective Colin Organ  

In October 2016, South Simcoe Police Service’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) investigated two Bradford pharmacy store robberies. The investigation led to discovering the identity of two suspects. These suspects were linked to further pharmacy store robberies in York Region. A three month joint investigation was conducted by the South Simcoe Police Service CIB and the York Regional Police Hold-Up Unit with the assistance of the Ontario Provincial Police Technical Support Branch. On January 26, 2017, the investigation led to the arrests of two Bradford men for the pharmacy armed robbery series. Search warrants were executed at two Bradford homes resulting in the seizure of weapons, cash and a large quantity of drugs, including fentanyl patches, heroin, cocaine and a wide variety of other narcotics. On October 23, 2019, the charged 29 year old man was handed a 10-year prison sentence for his part in the armed robberies. His partner in crime, a 24-year-old was convicted last January of five pharmacy store robberies and drug related charges. Last month, he was handed a three and a half year prison sentence and three years’ probation.

Award for Excellence in Emergency Response 

Constables Mark Colucci, Adam Walther, David Oxley and Civilian 9-1-1 Communicators Dana Corporon, Holleigh Vella and Robyn Bodnaryk.  

On Saturday, July 20, 2019, around 3:30 p.m., South Simcoe Police Service officers were called to a home in Bradford for a report of a man threatening to kill himself with a knife. Constable Colucci was the first officer to arrive on scene and discovered the suicidal man brandishing a knife at a relative. Colucci drew his taser, ordered the relative to leave the house immediately and demanded the suspect to drop the knife. The man refused, and demanded that police shoot him. He then threw the knife at Colucci who took cover behind a wall. The man began to cut himself and when other officers arrived, he ordered Colucci to leave the home and demanded to speak to Constable Walther. Constables Colucci and David Oxley took up a position in the front entrance with tasers drawn and just out of sight. Negotiations continued until at one point the man approached Constable Walther with the knife in hand. Constables Colucci and Oxley jumped out from behind their cover and simultaneously deployed their tasers which allowed officers to subdue the man and take him safely into custody. The man was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and transported to hospital for treatment. Much credit to the Comm Centre team, Dana Corporon, Holleigh Vella and Robyn Bodnaryk for their calm, tenacity and skills in co-ordinating the response to a high risk call while protecting officer safety.

Excellence in Emergency Response  

Sgt. Sean Willan, Sgt. Michael Adams, Constables Gerald Crane, Troy Urbshott, Shawn Strilec, Clint McLellan and our K9 Unit- PC Shawn Gwilliam and PSD Nitro.  

On Tuesday October 2nd, 2018, around 3:30 a.m., South Simcoe Police Service was dispatched to a home in Innisfil for a report of a suicidal man with a firearm. It was a cold October morning and the rain was torrential. Responding officers made contact with the man who was irate and refused to come outside. Instead, he stayed inside the residence and spoke with police through an open window. Police observed the man was in possession of a rifle. Sergeant WILLAN, a trained Crisis Negotiator, arrived on scene and became the primary contact between police and the man who was uncooperative, repeatedly requested that police shoot him and he did not plan on coming out of the house alive. During one of the man’s outbursts, WILLAN was able to reach into the window and remove the firearm while the man was distracted in another part of the house. Sergeant ADAMS, also trained in Crisis Negotiations, arrived on scene and took over communications with the man. During negotiations, the man exited the residence and entered the garage located at the back of the property. He continued demanding that police shoot him. He then walked to the front of the garage and lit a generator on fire. At this time, fearing for the man’s life, police kicked in the door to the garage, extinguished the fire and placed him under arrest for weapons related offences.

Award for Excellence in Innovation – Sue Sgambati, Corporate Communications 

Sue Sgambati joined the South Simcoe Police Service team in March of 2018. Amongst other things, Sue came to us with a strong reputation for excellence in broadcasting, accurate unbiased reporting, and good investigative journalism. She also came with a mission to improve the communications between the Service and the communities that we serve. She has utilized her vast experience as well as her knowledge of current media outlets to enhance the image of the Service and to make our outstanding performance visible to the broader public.

Best Media Story – Natasha Philpott, Bradford Today 

Natasha was honoured for her coverage of the South Simcoe Police Service HASHTAG Be TRUE, otherwise known as the ‘Be The Real You’ school program. We are especially proud of this program because it was developed by our own school resource officers, Special Constables Karen Markus and Elisabeth Aschwanden.

Best Media Photo – Miriam King, Bradford Today 

Miriam was honoured for her powerful photograph of Sgt. Dave Phillips as he spoke to reporters about a tragic, mutliple fatality collision in Bradford.

Miriam’s image captured the emotion of the moment and depicted the professionalism and human side of policing.

Best Media Radio/Television Story – Rock95/KoolFm 

This award was accepted by Rock 95 and Kool FM News Director Dan Blakeley. The radio stations were recognized for coverage on South Simcoe Police Service issuing its first, three-day roadside licence suspension for cannabis. With Cannabis legislation being relatively new, we are grateful to Rock 95 and Kool FM and it’s umbrella social media account of Barrie 360 for covering this incident to help promote awareness of Cannabis legislation and our commitment to stopping impaired driving – regardless of whether it’s by drug or alcohol.

The Citizen Public Safety Award – Joaquim Baptista and Richard Hyland 

This award was presented to the two citizens who helped apprehend an impaired driver who was fleeing at a high rate of speed after striking down a pedestrian and colliding with several vehicles. On Tuesday, September 3, 2019, shortly before noon, South Simcoe Police Service officers were called to a parking lot on Holland Street West for a report of a vehicle striking a pedestrian and other parked vehicles. The suspect vehicle fled in a dangerous manner northbound on 10th Sideroad towards Highway 89. Mr. Baptista followed the vehicle until he reached the in intersection at Highway 89. It was there that he pulled in front of the suspect vehicle and blocked its path, when it got caught up at the traffic lights. Mr. Hyland, also having seen the dangerous driving of the accused pulled in behind the accused’s vehicle causing it to be boxed in. They then physically restrained the driver, preventing him from fleeing again. The suspect and his female passenger both assaulted the men before police arrived. As soon as police arrived, the suspect driver was taken into custody for impaired operation and his passenger was arrested for assault.

Citizen Public Safety Award – Warren Giles 

On Tuesday, July 30, 2019 around 8:15 p.m., South Simcoe Police Service officers, along with Bradford West Gwillimbury Fire and Emergency Services and County of Simcoe Paramedic Services, responded to a fire at a ground floor apartment in a building on Centre Street in Bradford. A woman found inside the apartment was transported to hospital in critical condition where she subsequently succumbed to her injuries. Two Good Samaritans, one being Warren, who were passing by the scene grabbed a garden hose and attempted to extinguish the blaze that ultimately claimed the woman’s life. The brave action of these men is being credited with preventing the fire from becoming much larger and destroying other units in the building and perhaps claiming more lives. No one else was hurt in the blaze. The investigation determined the fire was accidental, caused by careless smoking. The other Good Samaritan has never come forward, but Mr. Giles was honoured at our awards night for selflessly stepping up in the face of danger.

Auxiliary Officer of the Year Award – Auxiliary Constable Ryan Gainer 

Auxiliary Constable Gainer joined the South Simcoe Police in 2017. Since joining, Ryan consistently volunteers for events in both communities and has exceeded the hours commitment every month since joining. Ryan continues to have one of the highest amounts of hours within the unit every year. Ryan has always been willing to put himself out there to assist the Auxiliary Unit and the Service. This dedication includes the countless hours he assists the K9 unit with training. When dealing with the public and the other members of the service, Ryan does it with professionalism and respect. Ryan continues to work hard for the unit while never giving up on his dream of advancing a career in Policing.

Auxiliary Meritorious Action Award – Auxiliary Constable David Stea 

Details of the call that earned Auxiliary Constable Stea this honour cannot be discussed due to privacy reasons and sensitivity for those involved but this is information that can be revealed. One day in March 2019, police were called to an address for a death investigation. Auxiliary Constable Stea was assigned to protect the scene, while officers conducted their investigation. Left in the wake of the death, were heartbroken family members. More and more family members arrived at the home, causing the situation to become even more emotional and chaotic.

One of the responding officers said: “Auxiliary Stea acted very professional and was a great help with holding the scene. The call itself was extremely stressful with the large family being understandably inconsolable and crying and Auxiliary Stea handled himself very well and was of great assistance to the service.” The on-scene Sergeant said, “The scene was a very difficult one and Stea handled himself very well. He was required to keep family members away from the scene and the longer we were there the more family members that kept arriving. I spoke with Auxiliary Constable Stea myself after the call and complimented him on doing a good job and remaining calm. I commend Auxiliary Constable Stea for his professionalism and his assistance to members of the platoon and the service.”

Special Presentation for Community Partner – Jeff Stovold, President of Lefroy Harbour 

To talk about Jeff we have to note the Stovold family’s community involvement goes back a remarkable 50 years. Over the years, various members of the family have acquired and operated The RV Warehouse, Kon Tiki Marina, the KOA Campground and Lefroy Harbour, where South Simcoe Police Service moors its boat. Jeff has also served as President of the Ontario Marine Operators Association (now Boating Ontario), Canada’s largest recreational boating association, and was selected by The Greater Innisfil Chamber of Commerce to represent them in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Torch Relay. Jeff’s caring and generosity extends far beyond Simcoe County to an orphanage in Africa. Jeff and his wife Cathy have travelled to Kenya as part of the Rain Harvest Team to work at the orphanage called Mully Children’s Family Homes (MCF). A cause near and dear to the couple, MCF rescues and cares for abandoned and abused children. Proceeds donated from the Lefroy Harbour Golf Classic assist in MCF’s ongoing efforts; to date it has transformed the lives of more than 10,000 street kids. Jeff’s partnership with the community and South Simcoe Police Service has been unwavering. As a token of our sincere appreciation for your many years of support, we have a photo of the Lieutenant Governor’s visit to Lefroy Harbour in 2018.

Show of Recognition and Appreciation – Rod Hicks, former Chair of Bradford West Gwillimbury/Innisfil Police Services Board

Rod Hicks joined the Bradford West Gwillimbury/Innisfil Police Services Board in December of 2012. He was elected Vice Chair in January 2014 and after two years in that role, he became Chair of the board in January 2016. He served as Chair for three and a half years and during his tenure was involved in negotiating contracts and the hiring of Chief Fletcher and Deputy Chief McElary-Downer. Chair Hicks’ long history of public service dates back to his years with Toronto Emergency Services where he served in many capacities, including Duty Officer. He serves on the Committee of Adjustments and was previously Co-Chair of the Innisfil Community Grant Committee. We presented Chair Hicks with a 24 karat gold, hand crafted pin, generously donated by Peter Dykie Jr. of Bradford Jewellery.