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  • Writer's pictureTHE ISNSIDER

ISN Receives the John Bitove Sr. Award from ProAction Cops & Kids

            When he started ISN back in 2006, Dave Perry’s time on the Toronto Police Service was just in the rearview mirror. Particularly important to him was the time that he got to spend with children, including 8 years working in human trafficking. He spent a significant portion of his career working one-on-one with young people to help them find a better path forward.

            Now, nearly two decades later, Dave’s efforts have come full circle. On June 5th, ISN was presented with the John Bitove Sr. Award from ProAction Cops & Kids, in recognition of the 18 years of support that ISN has provided to the organization. “I was around when John Sr. and former Chief Bill McCormick started ProAction, and it led to the Durham chapter some years later, so to be acknowledged by Mr. Bitove’s son with an award like this is quite meaningful,” said Dave.

            For Dave, one of the highlights of his work with ProAction has been the opportunity to give back right in his own community. “I was born and raised in Durham Region, but as a Toronto Police officer my impact back here was limited. I’d always supported ProAction, but when they announced a Durham chapter in 2006 I was excited to join the board,” he said.

            ProAction’s mission to support kids has been perfectly aligned with ISN’s values, and it’s no surprise to Dave that so many of the staff are willingly jumping on board. ISN team members regularly volunteer at ProAction events such as their golf tournament, and it does not take more than a single email to get an overwhelming turnout for the ProAction bowling fundraiser.

            Since its inception, ProAction has been working diligently to change the relationship that young people have with the police. In the beginning it was largely focused on sports and athletic programming, such as teaching kids to fish, or paddle a canoe. Over the years, and with enhanced resources thanks to supporters such as ISN, ProAction has broadened their initiatives into music and arts programming, cooking classes, and other activities that are focused on setting young people up for a more positive future.

            Giving back to the community and supporting police are two of ISN’s primary goals, and working with ProAction is one of the best ways to make that happen. “An officer told us that before he started working with ProAction, he used to see kids running away from police cars,” Dave remembered. “Now, he sees them running towards him, and that’s the impact of positive programming.”

            Many of the Durham Regional Police officers involved in ProAction still hear from former youth participants who have gone on to complete high school, graduate from colleges and universities, and have gone on to successful careers. “Officers on the DRPS still get texts and emails from former participants, and one of them was actually recently sworn in as a police officer,” Dave added. “If it weren’t for ProAction and these positive actions with police officers, it’s not clear what direction their lives would have taken.”

            In his policing career, Dave remembers working with children in incredibly difficult circumstances - disadvantaged youth, runaways, homeless youth, trafficked youth etc. These are groups that may have had a negative interaction with police in the past, but part of ProAction’s work is to show them that police officers are people too, just like them.

            “The police are leaders in their community, and just having these programs lets young people see the human side of police officers - they have families and children and their own struggles not unlike the kids,” says Dave. “These kids are in tough circumstances, and often victims of their circumstances, but they’re not bad kids. They just need someone in their life to show them a different way.”

            On behalf of the entire leadership team, thank you to everyone who has supported ProAction and its work through the years. We are so proud of this award, and we could not have achieved it without all of your help. Together, we can do so much to keep making this world a safer, more inclusive, and more supportive place.


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