What does it take to become a Toronto police officer?

A roller coaster. That’s how Shevan Ellis describes his 24-week training to become a Toronto police constable.

“It’s not an easy process. It’s a lot of information, it’s physically draining, mentally draining,” he said.

“But at the end of the day, you look back and (think) I’m a better person today, I’m in the best shape of my life, I know more about the community that I’m going to serve, I know more about myself.”

Ellis was one of 20 new recruits who graduated from the Toronto Police College in south Etobicoke last Thursday. He’s now assigned to 53 Division. The recruit class, number 18-01, was the first graduating class since 2016 when a moratorium on hiring was imposed.

Ellis, 32, came to Canada from Jamaica in April 1998 at age 12 and lived in the Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue area.

“Police presence was pretty visible in that area,” he recalled. “I saw how they interacted with members of the community and even though that community was pretty rough there was still a lot of respect for the community and policing.”

Ellis worked in the Mount Dennis neighbourhood as a community outreach worker; he then worked with people with mental health issues at group homes. Ellis also worked for several years as a Toronto District School Board mental health worker.

“Building that relationship with youth and building relationships with adults, I thought it was a good idea to combine those skills and to be able to help the community,” Ellis said of his motivation to join the police service.

And the hiring process wasn’t easy.

Candidates first complete an online registration for a General Information Session. After attending a GIS, a recruiter is in touch. The candidate then completes an online registration for a mentoring session. Candidates then attend their registered mentoring session and register for Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police testing with Applicant Testing Services. Candidates then perform a series of tests: Police Analytical Thinking Inventory, Written Communication Test, Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police, Vision and Hearing, and Behavioural Personnel Assessment Device. Candidates then obtain their OACP certificate of results and submit an online application to the Toronto Police Service.