DAN CEARNS The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: A local Durham Regional Police (DRPS) officer, who works in the North Durham area, is nominated for a Police Association of Ontario award. Constable Anil Maharaj is nominated for the Community Role Model section of the Police Services Hero of the Year Awards. The program gave community members the opportunity to nominate a police officer for one of three awards: On-Duty Difference Maker – Uniform/Sworn Police Officer, On-Duty Difference Maker– Civilian Police Service Employee and Community Role Model. Constable Maharaj’s nomination was posted on Monday, March 9th. “I am nominating him for the Community Role Model award because he truly demonstrates that he cares about the residents in Durham North. For example, Officer Maharaj, his wife (a retired police officer) and his two daughters prepared a Christmas dinner with all the fixings at home and then delivered it to the retirement residence in Sunderland on Christmas Day. This officer and his family celebrated Christmas not at their home but at a retirement residence,” read the post, written by Olga Kuzmich. “His act of kindness and the time he spent with the residents made a difference, especially for those who did not have a family to spend Christmas with.” Constable Maharaj told The Standard how he learned about being nominated for this award. “It was my colleague that was making comments to me. I thought he was joking around. I didn’t believe him until he took me to his computer and showed me the website and the nomination,” he explained. Though Constable Maharaj remains humble when asked what winning the award would mean to him. “Whether I win it or not, the moving part for me is that the community has acknowledged that the police are making strides. It’s an honour just to be recognized,” he said. “I do realize the impact I have on people, but hearing their accolades years later is a very humbling experience.” Constable Maharaj is regularly involved in the DRPS’ Coffee with a Cop program. He has been working for the DRPS for over 29 years and plans to retire at the end of this year. He explained why he first became a police officer, “I grew up in Epsom. I never really thought about policing a lot,” Constable Maharaj said. “When I was 18 years old, I got a job at Ontario Place for the summer, and my boss there suggested about me becoming a police officer. When he said that, going on about the job security and the pension, he said ‘you’ve got a great personality for it. You deal with people here really well, so I think you would be a good police officer.’ He thought I’d be a compassionate and empathetic officer.” Ms. Kuzmich talked about how she first met Constable Maharaj. “I met this officer many years ago. He had a role as an elder abuse [officer]. He helped a friend of mine out who was in her senior years and all alone without a family. I had concerns about her well being. This was about 20 years ago,” she said. “I was crying on the street because I didn’t know where to go, to get help for this lady. He got her the proper care.” She learned about the awards program from a friend who’s husband is a police officer. After overhearing about Constable Maharaj’s Christmas initiative, Ms. Kuzmich was inspired to nominate him. The police association is expected to announce the winners in May. For more information, go online to www.policehero.ca.