On November 20, 2008, 38 graduates of the Winnipeg Police Academy’s class number 146 stood proud, wearing their crisp blue uniforms after completing a nine-month course that began in February with 41 students. Among the new law enforcers were four women, one Chinese, one East Indian and one Filipino.
It was a special day not only for the families of the new recruits, but also for the Filipino-Canadian community in Winnipeg. The significance lies not so much in the fact that the new graduate increases the number of police officers of Filipino descent to 15 now active in the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) but because the new constable is not even a Canadian citizen yet, having immigrated to Canada only in March 2007. And, unlike most of his classmates, he is not in his 20s or even 30s.
At the age of 45, Constable Reynaldo Olazo holds the record of being the oldest recruit in the history of Winnipeg Police Service (WPS). His younger classmates fondly refer to him as “Papa Rey”.
“One fellow recruit from Ste. Anne is 20 years old and when he learned that my oldest child is also 20, he began referring to me as ‘Papa Rey’ and the others followed suit,” recalls Olazo during a relaxed conversation with the writers at the office of Pilipino Express.
But Olazo might not be holding that distinction for very long. “I heard they have a 49-year old recruit in the current class of the Winnipeg Police Academy,” said the affable police officer whose classmates and instructors deemed worthy of the much-coveted Sgt. Don Gove Award for having been named the “Ideal Police Officer [of] Recruit Class No. 146.”