There wasn't a dry eye in the house as members of the community spent an evening honouring the men and women of the Durham Regional Police. The tales of heroic acts, selfless dedication and brave responses in the face of the unknown were presented to the crowd as awards for extraordinary police work were handed out.
The 14th Annual Police Appreciation Dinner and Awards Night (PADAN) took place at Deer Creek Golf & Convention Centre in Ajax on Oct. 27 to a packed house. The theme this year, Building Bridges, celebrates the trust and collaboration that DRPS fosters between the police and citizens in order for officers to do a better of job of keeping neighbourhoods safe.
The Co-chairs of the community organizing committee, Moe Pringle and Blair McArthur, thanked every member of the police service for making a difference in the community. They also thanked all of the corporate sponsors who have made the event possible. More than $1.3 million has been raised over the past 14 years and the proceeds are reinvested into in educational, community safety and outreach programs involving police officers.
The awards presented to DRPS officers had an emotional impact on the assembled guests:
-Cst. Jack Stelwagen was rewarded for his calm and compassionate response to a fight call in Ajax where a male was stabbed. He started first aid while coordinating other responding officers. The male lost about 60 per cent of his blood and doctors credit Cst. Stalwagen for saving his life that night.
-Cst. Rob Harding was commended for his actions on the night a Canadian Armed Forces veteran was having a mental health crisis due to PTSD. The male was having flashbacks to his time in Afghanistan and threatening suicide. Cst. Harding showed him an immense level of compassion and respect. The male was taken to hospital for treatment, but Cst. Harding didn't stop there. He's stayed in contact with the male and continues to support his recovery.
-D/Cst. Bryan Armstrong and Aux/Cst. Clint Neuls were recognized for their brave actions that found them on a narrow walkway on a bridge about one foot away from a speeding train, trying to move a suicidal male to safety. D/Cst. Armstrong threw his body over the man as the train sped by and tried to pull the male off the bridge. Aux/Cst. Neuls put himself in harm's way as he grabbed D/Cst. Armstrong's vest and pulled along as well. The male was brought to safety and the two officers thankfully walked away unscathed.
-The members who responded to a horrific collision on Highway 401 that involved 15 vehicles were praised as well. OPP requested assistance with the incident and DRPS sworn and civilian members stepped up in a big way. More than 50 9-1-1 calls were received in a short time and officers from across the service aided at the scene, which has been compared to a war zone.
A special presentation was made to mark the 10th anniversary of the Youth in Policing program. Having touched more than 700 lives of youth in the region, it is a great example of Building Bridges between police and the community.
Another highlight of the night was a speech from ten-year-old Ada Lahey, a Grade 5 student at St. Matthew the Evangelist Catholic School in Whitby. She enthusiastically delivered her award-winning essay that focused on addressing mental health issues and bullying in schools. When she was sworn in as Chief for a Day on Oct. 25, she received a custom-made Chief of Police uniform and toured various units across the service.
The DRPS would like to send a heartfelt thank you to the Police Appreciation Dinner and Awards Night committee for recognizing our members and for the contributions they have made over the past 14 years to the community outreach efforts of Durham Regional police officers.
Mini Chief Ada and Chief Martin (JPG file, 937.8K bytes)
Arriving at the gala. (JPG file, 489.6K bytes)
Aux Cst Neuls and D/Cst Armstrong accept their awards (JPG file, 426.8K bytes)
K-9 Unit received a special gift from PADAN (JPG file, 501.6K bytes)
Proud DRPS member (JPG file, 301.7K bytes)
Chiefs at PADAN (JPG file, 251.9K bytes)
Pipes and Drums (JPG file, 825.3K bytes)