Toronto honour for top Barbadian cop
March 18, 2019
While vacationing in Barbados with his wife in April 2018, a group of police cadets training on the beach caught the attention of retired Toronto Police officer Ojo Tewogbade.
On introducing himself to the person conducting the exercise, he learnt that Dave Bascombe, who is head of the lifeguard services department, had received training from the Toronto Police Marine Unit.
With the Royal Barbados Police graduation a few days away, Tewogbade was invited to remain for the ceremony.
Of the 18 recruits, University of the West Indies sport science graduate Rashida Gill stood out.
“The commandant (Sylvester Louis) told me he was surprised that she made it through the seven-month training program,” said Tewogbade who retired in 2014 after 35 years on the job.
Not only did Gill complete the rigorous program, but she became just the second female to win the Best Recruit Award.
It was one of eight awards that she received.
“I was really impressed with what she did and I promised her that I would talk to the Toronto Police Service 13 Division unit commander to see if she could be honoured at the St. James British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church/13 Division Black History Month (BHM) celebration,” Tewogbade said. “I got approval and the intent was to send the award to her.”
Gill, however, opted to come to Toronto be recognized at the February 24 event.
“This honour is a big deal for me and I wanted to be here to show my gratitude,” she said.
The new officer was attracted to policing at age 16.
“I didn’t see many female officers on the beat and I said that’s something I want to do,” Gill recalled. “I also thought it was a profession that would allow me to help people and make a difference.”
Gill was determined to graduate even though the training was challenging.
“I was the smallest in the class among bigger and imposing individuals, but I didn’t allow that to intimidate me,” she pointed out. “I was focussed on what I had to do to make it to the end.”
Of the nearly 1,500 uniformed officers in the Royal Barbados Police Force, about 230 are females.
New Barbados consul general in Toronto Sonia Marville-Carter presented the award to Gill.
“This is an exceptionally proud moment not because she is Barbadian, but because she’s a young Black woman from the Caribbean who has excelled in her field,” said the diplomat.