Toronto cop bringing love of Star Wars to school programs
Published Friday, January 11, 2019 8:55PM EST Last Updated Friday, January 11, 2019 9:09PM EST
Known to kids as the “Star Wars Cop,” Const. Peter De Quintal believes in the importance of creating “little leaders in our community.”
In his role as community school liaison officer with Toronto Police Service’s 12 Division, De Quintal runs presentations and programs for 29 elementary schools.
As an avid Star Wars fan, De Quintal tries to incorporate the theme into breakfast programs and activities to engage with the kids.
“I’ve always been a fan of Star Wars,” he told CTV News Toronto. “It’s the good versus evil. Even when you are bad, you could still come back to be being good.”
De Quinta’s social media page is full of photographs of storm troopers and Jedi. On Dec. 30 he posted a photo of himself dressed as Darth Vader, saying that “2019 is nearly upon us and change is coming.”
It's finally happening. 2019 is nearly upon us and change is coming. #DarthVader #StarWars #HappyNewYear pic.twitter.com/mTrHK1tHhy— PC Peter De Quintal (@StarWarsCop) December 31, 2018
De Quinta said that he sometimes brings storm troopers into schools to help get the kids interested in the activities. He proudly showed CTV News Toronto the Star Wars waffle maker he uses for the breakfast programs, which he says is “actually really nice, really detailed.”
De Quintal is also the founder of the Toronto Helmet Initiative, an organization that encourages young people to wear helmets while cycling. He is also involved in bicycle rodeos, blood drives, Lego clubs, and the CAA School Safety Patroller Program, which helps educate kids about safe road-crossing practices.
“The bike rodeo program is, right now, for grades four and five, but now I have some of those kids coming back as Grade 10s, volunteering for the same program they participated (in) with me and that to me is a huge success.”
He also helps facilitate the Kids, Cops and Computers program, which teaches kids about cyber safety, social media and overall digital literacy.
“I'm always trying to come up with different programs to reach out to different people, like today, I made a call, how do I do coding with kids, but it has to be Star Wars,” he said.
De Quintal knew at the age of five that he wanted to be a police officer, when he saw Blinky, a police cruiser used to educate children about safety. De Quintal is now a 13-year veteran and has worked with the primary response unit and the mobile crisis intervention unit before becoming a community liaison.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of my community. I’ve always wanted to strengthen that bond. It’s the power of us,” he said. “Too many people want to separate us, want to divide us.”
The 38-year-old father of two said he takes a lot of pride in his uniform and wants to show kids how important it is to build each other up and focus on the positive.
The kids De Quintal engages with say he is “really, really nice.’
“He makes a lot of jokes and when he comes into the classroom everybody starts cheering,” one student said.
The vice principal at St. Bernard Catholic School said that it is De Quintal’s ability to relate with students and staff that make his programs a success.
“He’s bringing things down to their level,” Rosanna Bottero said. “He’s bringing his love of Star Wars into everything.”
De Quintal said he believes that being involved in the community can be a strategy to rooting out gun and gang violence.
“I think it can be effective. It just has to be a long term commitment, programs that are lasting. And I think it will have a real impact because I can see it in my own programs,” he said.
With files from CTV News Toronto's Michelle Dube
Welcome 2019!! New Year, New Look!! What do you think? pic.twitter.com/dFC7m9mXRZ— PC Peter De Quintal (@StarWarsCop) January 2, 2019