Toronto police awards honour 105 members — and 1 teenager

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Toronto police awards honour 105 members — and 1 teenager

The Toronto Police Service honoured some of its bravest members Wednesday night—as well as one teenage civilian.

Rhys Langdon, 16, helped to rescue two people whose canoe capsized in Algonquin Park last July.

"The canoe was completely capsized, flipped over," Langdon told CBC Toronto.

"They had no flotation device. They were in the water."

Langdon had been participating in the Toronto Recreational Outtripping Outreach Program (TROOP) at the time, which pairs youth and police officers for canoe trips. 

During training, one of the officers noticed something thrashing in the water, according to the award program notes. When another officer went out to investigate, he saw the capsized couple. The current had taken their canoe, life jackets and paddles down the river.

The officer signaled back to the others—and Langdon and another officer rowed out to help.

"We got them in the canoe safely, made sure they got back to shore," Langdon said, adding that the experience has inspired him to consider a career in policing.

"It's a good feeling, helping people out."

A few days earlier on a TROOP trip, officers also helped rescue two 11-year-old boys who were submerged in the water and hanging onto a tree trunk.

Toronto police honoured 105 officers at the 2017 awards, which recognized acts of bravery, exceptional performance, and dedicated service.

"We do this as a small token of showing the recognition of the fantastic work that not only law enforcement does, but members of the community as well," said Police Chief Mark Saunders. 

Among those honoured Wednesday night included an off-duty officer who saved a man in a wheelchair whose jacket was on fire, as well as a constable who saved a man from a gunshot wound.

Several officers was recognized for an incident in July 2015, when a man wanted for double murder was shot and killed during an arrest attempt.

According to the awards program notes, officers had been working downtown when they were asked to help arrest the man, who was at a nearby nightclub.

When the suspect got back into his vehicle, three officers approached the car on their bikes—and were immediately met with "heavy gunfire."

With nowhere to go, the officers "chose to take a stand and return fire," the notes say.

The suspect left the vehicle and tried to escape on foot, but he had been fatally wounded and collapsed on the ground.

"Their actions ultimately saved their own lives and those of nearby citizens," the program says.

"Although there was a loss of life that night, if it was not for the actions of the officers in executing their plan, the suspect would have made good his escape and continued to pose a risk to the community."

The three officers arrested a second man who was trying to flee the suspect's vehicle.

Several other officers, who had driven into the parking lot, hurried to assist.

"I'm proud that everyone made it home safe that night, and that we didn't get hurt and that we were able to help out in any way that we can," said Vittorio Dominelli, who helped the bicycle officers.

The awards ceremony was held at police headquarters in Toronto.