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Detective Constable Terri Hazell

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Three people in York Regional Police coats stand at the back of a van

A woman in a police jacket and khaki pants writes on a tablet in front of a car

Detective Constable Terri Hazell has what it takes.

Over her 20-year career with YRP, she has worn many different hats. She's served on the frontline and as a property crime investigator. She was the organization's first youth co-ordinator, who was responsible for ensuring YRP was compliant with Ontario's Youth Criminal Justice Act when it took effect in 2003.

Detective Constable Hazell was also seconded by the RCMP for five years to participate in covert operations. She's worked in traffic, community services and now, she's YRP's first female Collision Reconstructionist.

Why did you choose a career in policing?

When I told people twenty years ago that I wanted to become a police officer, they said good luck because I was small and female. The fact that I was told I couldn't do it, made me want it even more and try extra hard. I have always wanted to be a police officer and I wasn't going to let anyone stop me from achieving my goal.

What was one of your coolest moments on the job?

In 2009, I was seconded into an RCMP-led Joint Forces Operation. I was actually the only women who passed the course required to join the team. Our focus was covert operations, so we dealt with drug cartels, abuctions, murders and terrorism. There wasn't just one cool moment, pretty much everything we did was fun. Unfortunately, I can't tell you about any of it!

How did your experience as a uniform officer prepare you for your future assignments?

Uniform patrol is a family of its own. It's a tight group who trust and rely on each other. The relationships I built on my first platoon still exist today. Uniform patrol is also a great opportunity to gain exposure to many specialty units who arrive on scene, such as the Criminal Investigations Bureau, Canine Unit or Homicide Unit.

How did it feel to be the first woman to earn a spot in the Major Collision Investigation Unit?

It's not really something that I thought too much about. In my career, I've always just gone for the positions that interested me. With my current job as a Collision Reconstructionist, I actually feel like I'm applying what I studied in my post-secondary education. I graduated as an electronics engineering technologist and I actually use math and physics in my job every day.

What exactly does a Collision Reconstructionist do?

After a serious collision takes place, we arrive on scene to provide an unbiased assessment of why the accident occurred. We reconstruct a collision using physics and the physical evidence present at a scene. We also review CDR downloads, which are the blackboxes found in vehicles, and data found in infotainment units. Before we leave the scene, we usually have developed a pretty educated idea of what happened.

What are the traits of a good investigator?

You need to watch out for the little details, which can lead to the biggest breaks in a case. You also need to be comfortable speaking to anyone, about anything. Good investigators also need to be adaptable and very organized, especially when it comes to preparing for court.

What advice do you have for officers starting their career with YRP?

Prospective recruits should know that they can do anything that they set their minds to. I would also say that if something isn't hard work, then it's probably not worth working toward.