BY KELLY ROCHE
Kyle Woolery has been in some awkward situations working mall security at Shoppers World.
Take cuffing someone and realizing “oh, that guy was in my Grade 10 math class,” said Woolery, 24.
“We arrested another guy and it was my friend’s dad … It was uncomfortable but I was able to just, like, put it behind me and never, like, feel any discomfort about it.”
The Brampton resident knows more challenges are on deck once he’s out on patrol as a rookie with Peel Police.
Woolery is in a class of 37 new recruits – 30 males and 7 females, 18 of whom are visible minorities – who’ll be leaving for Ontario Police College next month.
“It doesn’t feel real,” Woolery said of inching toward his dream.
“It’s exciting and every day is a new learning experience.”
The former hockey player and distance runner should have no problem keeping up with physical demands of the job.
“He’s really fast,” said fellow recruit Nima Lota, 25, of Mississauga.
If Lota has a familiar face, it’s because you’ve seen him at the Seva Food Bank and West 50.
“I wanted to just give back to the community and be part of a team,” Lota said of why he applied to the police service.
After working with people living in poverty and dealing with ‘bar close’, “I got both realms,” of what policing entails, Lota said.
What he wasn’t prepared for was “getting my butt kicked every fitness class,” said Lota, adding he’s already lost five pounds in about two weeks.
Lota says he’s received plenty of advice from friends who are already officers — many of whom have told him to stick with it.
“My mom’s a bit worried” about this career choice, Lota said.
“She’s getting better day by day.”
Recruits will spend three months at OPC, followed by an additional five weeks of training with Peel before graduating.
WORTHWHILE AND REWARDING
Supt. Marc Andrews says the service is all about proactive engagement and recruitment.
Andrews grew up in the Applewood area and still lives in Peel Region, calling policing a worthwhile and rewarding endeavour.
One of the key differences for new recruits is the large volume of mental health calls they’ll be sent to, said Andrews.
“Daily, if you’re a frontline officer, you’re dealing with emotionally disturbed people,” he said, adding police are de facto mental health frontline workers.
“We deal with literally thousands of these every day.”
Mental health awareness plays a large role in recruiting and training, he said.
In terms of offering words of wisdom to rookies, Andrews references slain rapper Tupac Shakur.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of being videotaped,” said Andrews.
“Like Tupac said, ‘all eyes on me’ … you’re in the spotlight — embrace it.”