Sergeant Milton Ferguson of Toronto Police Services’ 52 Division received the 2018 OJEN Chief Justices’ Award at a reception presided over by the Honourable George R. Strathy, Chief Justice of Ontario. The reception took place at Osgoode Hall on Wednesday, March 27th, following OJEN’s Annual Network Meeting. Sergeant Ferguson becomes the 14th recipient of the OJEN Chief Justices’ Award. He is the first police officer to receive the award.
In presenting the award, Chief Justice Strathy remarked on the outstanding efforts Sergeant Ferguson has made to improve relations between police and youth in Toronto’s marginalized and racialized communities.
Over the past 10 years, Sergeant Ferguson represented the police perspective in various OJEN programs, providing youth with practical strategies for handling encounters with police that avoid escalation of conflict. In many cases he provided youth with their first positive encounter with a police officer.
Not only has Sergeant Ferguson helped youth understand the police, he has shared what he learned from them with his colleagues so they are better able to serve their communities.
Most recently, Sergeant Ferguson volunteered his time to engage with youth in OJEN’s Youth-Police Dialogues (YPD) program, a multi-session program that promotes positive youth-police interactions through genuine, balanced dialogue among youth, adult allies, police and members of the justice system.
Sergeant Ferguson was nominated for the award by Crown lawyer, Roger Shallow, who has volunteered on many OJEN justice education programs and by Damon “Soul-R” Maraj, Managing Director of IMPACT ‘n Communities, a community youth organization that has hosted OJEN programs Sergeant Ferguson has volunteered with.
Both nominators emphasized the non-authoritarian approach Sergeant Ferguson brings to his interactions with youth and his ability to build rapport. Feeling respected and heard allows youth to take part in honest dialogue which allows meaningful and transformational exchanges to occur.
(Sergeant Ferguson with Regent Park youth during a Youth-Police Dialogue program.)
In presenting the award, Chief Justice Strathy commented on the significance of Sergeant Ferguson’s commitment to community engagement: “This kind of life-to-life dialogue is the most challenging but most effective formula for change, and Sergeant Ferguson has committed himself to being a driving force to make it happen.”
In accepting the award Sergeant Ferguson commented that he made it his mission to make a difference.
Based on his remarkable volunteer record of engaging with hundreds of youth in neighbourhoods throughout Toronto, it is clear that Sergeant Ferguson has succeeded in this mission!