Parker set to step aside

RETIRING — Toronto Police Capt. Rick Parker, left, who will retire on Friday after a career in law enforcement that has spanned 34 1/2 years, shares a moment with Chief Randy Henry. -- Mark Law

TORONTO — Ever since he was a child, Rick Parker said he was fascinated with police work and police officers.

He became a police officer and worked his way up to the rank of captain. Parker will retire from the Toronto Police Department on Friday after 34 1/2 years in uniform.

Parker worked as an auxiliary officer on the department for several months before he was sworn in as a full-time patrolman in June 1984. He served as a patrolman for 27 years, becoming a captain about eight years ago.

“Throughout the years, I have seen a lot of good people. I’ve seen a lot of bad people,” he said.

Parker said he will remember for the rest of his life the crimes committed against children and the elderly.

“I have seen a lot of good in the people of Toronto. The taxpayers have always supported its public servants,” he said, adding the city doesn’t have a levy for police protection.

“In doing my job, I have always felt for the poor, underprivileged or the weak and disabled. Toronto, overall, is a really good community. We take pride in a proactive approach to crime and keeping criminals out of the city,” Parker said.

Parker said he enjoyed working drug cases, both with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the county drug task force.

“We went all over the county doing drug busts,” he said, adding it was mostly marijuana and cocaine in the earlier years, before the heroin and opioid epidemic struck.

He said it was disheartening to see young people overdose and die.

“The opioid epidemic affects all socioeconomic classes. No social class is immune,” he said.

Parker said he has seen a change in attitude toward police officers.

“That attitude has changed, especially the past six years. Hopefully, we will get through that stage and revert back to respecting what police officers do,” he said.

Parker said it is hard to find applicants to become a police officer.

“Nobody wants the job. That is sad. It is a rewarding job. If you can do something good for someone, it really makes your day,” he said.

Parker has seen many technological changes throughout his career. Today, officers have computer terminals in cruisers and a radio which can be used to communicate with officers throughout the county and state. He said DNA has become a great tool in law enforcement.

“What hasn’t changed is the brotherhood of officers, and the support we give to fellow officers,” he said.

Parker is being forced to retire because he will lose part of the pension he has worked for during the past three decades.

He said he will take the next couple of months off.

“It will be hard not to be part of the police department,” he said, adding he will work part-time for some police department.

“This is all I have ever done since I was a kid,” he said.

Parker also served in the Ohio Army National Guard for six years beginning in 1981.

“I would like to help younger officers with any knowledge I can pass on,” he said. “I’ll miss most the guys in the department. I’ll miss not being able to help or do something for the citizens. To protect and serve. That is what it is all about. I was born and raised in Toronto and never lived anywhere else. It has been a real privilege to serve the people of my hometown.”