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Constable Shawn Elliot's Story
When Constable Shawn Elliott was hired as a York Regional Police call taker in January of 2006, he had no clue what he was in for. Constable Elliott worked in Communications for four years, getting to know the ins and outs of policing and gathering a few memorable tales of his own. During his time in Communications, Constable Elliott fielded one of York Regional Police’s most memorable calls involving escaped elephants from Newmarket’s Ray Twinney Recreation Complex. As a result of the call, Constable Elliott was featured on various news networks and even on Discovery Channel for one of the most wild animal escape stories.
Despite his adventures in Communications, Constable Elliott noticed a growing interest in policing as a career over the years. “I always found policing interesting, but it wasn’t until I got into the organization that I realized it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Having studied law enforcement at Humber College and law and history at York University, Constable Shawn Elliott was always interested in law. “Originally my career goal was the general law enforcement field, after which I’d planned to see where I ended up,” Constable Elliott said. After some time, it became clear that policing was that ultimate goal and in 2010 Constable Elliott took the tests and obtained his OACP certificate.
After studying hard, Constable Elliott passed and was hired by York Regional Police as a police officer. As many recruits can attest, the trials didn’t end there. Beyond the testing, Constable Elliott underwent training. “Training in-house was the toughest because they really push you. They test your limits and see what you can do to make those limits a little higher every time.”
Constable Elliott officially made the transition to the road in the summer of 2010. “The transition from being a police communicator to a police officer helped because I knew a lot of the terminology coming in. I knew a lot of things that people new to the organization wouldn’t know and it helped because I encountered a lot of familiar names and faces. I was a new guy, but I wasn’t totally new. People I had known from before were there to support me. I asked around for information and knew what to expect ahead of time.”
The tough part for Constable Elliott was breaking the news of the switch to his family. “I had to go to my wife who was pregnant at the time and say, “Yes, I know we’re expecting our second child, but I’m going to leave for three months to go to police college.” I felt a lot of guilt because we had a four-year-old daughter and, by the time I went to police college, a three-month-old son. I felt bad for not being home. From that angle, it was a little rough.” Constable Elliott’s wife understood and supported him, though. “My wife wanted me to be happy,” Constable Elliott said. “If I’m happier with myself and my everyday life, my wife is a little happier and our marriage is a little stronger.”
“If policing is something you want to do, something you believe in and something you feel you can do and do well, do it,” said Constable Elliott. “If you’re someone who already has a family and employment, it’s easy to get settled in your ways. So if you sit back and wait for the perfect time, that time is probably never going to come. You just have to believe in yourself and you’ll make it work.”
Today Constable Elliott works the same shiftwork schedule that he did as a police communicator. “The flexibility of shiftwork is significant. I can always volunteer in my daughter’s classroom or go with her on day trips. I’m there to see my kids grow up. When I talk to other people they’re concerned that police officers don’t get to spend time with or see their families. Yes, sometimes you miss out on certain things, but if you focus on what you’re missing out on, you miss out on the fact that you actually get to be there for more than you realize.”
Right now, Constable Elliott is enjoying his life on the road as one of York Regional Police’s newest officers. As for the future? “My career goal is to be the staff sergeant of Communications,” Constable Elliott said. “It’ll be a nice bookend to my career. I started it there and I’ll end it there.”