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Cdn U-17 player Jason Baker now a policeman...

Rocket Robin

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From Share at www.sharenews.com (a Caribbean newspaper published in Toronto)

http://home.eol.ca/~robing/02cpsl96.htm Here's a game report of him playing for CPSL Metro Lions.

Ex-soccer player now a cop'


Disillusioned at not being able to earn a decent living as a professional soccer player in the U.S. or land a full-time teaching job in Canada, Jason Baker opted to take up a friend's advice to become a law enforcement officer a few years ago.

Last Friday, Baker was rejoicing that he pursued the challenge when he joined 35 other proud new Toronto Police College recruits at an impressive graduation ceremony.

"In my new role as a cop, I will be able to give back something to the community," says Baker who aspires to be a homicide detective. "I enjoyed the training, and now I am looking forward to playing my role as a productive law enforcement officer."

Becoming a police officer was certainly not at the top of Baker's career goal chart when he embarked on a soccer scholarship at the University of Illinois. He graduated with a degree in kinesiology, but had limited success securing a decent job in soccer to pay the bills.

Baker returned home from the U.S. in the summer of 2001, frustrated that he was unable to secure regular employment with semi-professional teams. Niggling knee injuries did not help his cause either.

He decided to use his degree to teach physical education, but soon found out that opportunities were limited.

"It was a pretty frustrating period for me," recalled Baker who represented Canada in soccer at the Under-17 level. "It seemed at the time that I was going nowhere until a friend of mine who was in the force encouraged me to join."

Baker took the plunge, enrolling in the intensive and rigorous program that included the Basic Constable Training 12-week course that is designed to provide recruits with a sound knowledge of the laws and procedures that uniform members are required to apply in the performance of their duties as front line officers.

Following the three-month program, recruits undergo training that prepares them for policing in the urban environment and readies them for field training.

"Every phase of the program was a challenge, but I enjoyed it," said Baker who will work out of 52 Division. "The training provides you with all the tools you need to become a good cop."

In addition to graduating, Baker can also be proud of the fact that he was part of the most diverse class to graduate from the college. A total of 55 per cent of the graduates were visible minorities.

"The City of Toronto is reflected in this graduating class," said Superintendent Keith Forde who heads the police training college. "This should be the rule rather than the exception."

Forde, who switched from pursuing an economics degree to a law enforcement career in the 1970s after recognizing that there were no Black officers in Montreal where he resided at the time, reminded the graduates that the learning process for them is now beginning even though they had completed their formal training.

"Policing is an ever changing vocation, and to be successful you must dedicate yourself to be a life-long learner," he pointed out. "Take advantage of the diverse and wide range of learning opportunities and also widen your horizons by comparing and contrasting and learning from police services all over the world. There are lessons to be learned from each of them."

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