Realizing not everyone plays sports, the 33 Division Youth Community Police Liaison Committee was brainstorming ways to better connect young people and officers when someone suggested an Amazing Race-style event to help bridge the gap.
The first annual 33YCPLC Amazing Race was held Friday, Feb. 15 at Toronto Police College and was made up of 10 teams of four students and an officer.
The hour and a half event brought students aged 10 to 17 from across the city to 70 Birmingham St. on the Professional Activity (PA) day, which saw them compete in trivia rounds and an obstacle course.
Challenges included identifying Chief Bill Blair in his graduating class picture, which hangs on the wall of the college’s ground floor, and locating the badge number of Const. Todd Baylis, which is part of the memorial in the courtyard. Baylis was killed in the line of duty in 1994.
Each member of the winning team won a tablet, a chance to meet Deputy Chief Peter Sloly and a tour of the service’s facilities, including the Mounted Unit and Emergency Task Force.
“One kid was upset and didn’t want to participate because his friend had made his own team and he had to partner with guys he just met, and his team won,” said Sgt. Rod Chung, who has organized past youth-oriented programs. “At first we didn’t think many kids would show up because it was a PA Day. I was shocked. This is something we are going to do annually.”
The goal, Chung said, was to improve relationships between youth and officers and to encourage young people to do things they wouldn’t normally do.
“They shouldn’t be afraid to try something new,” he said. “It gave youth the opportunity to interact with and to get to know some of the officers. When we do sports activities (with officers and youths), the kids aren’t really interacting with police, they are competing against them.”
The 33YCPLC Amazing Race has left at least one participant contemplating a policing career.
“I definitely want to be a police officer and I will aim to make it all the way to the (Emergency Task Force),” said Latesha Williams, an A.Y. Jackson Secondary School student in a release. “This was such a fun event and I really enjoyed working as a team with other students, going to some of the places here at the college where the officers do their training and just interacting with the police who made this day a great experience for us.”