A Passion for Learning: CPKN Announces the F. Darren Smith Award of Excellence

Within Canada’s policing community, Darren Smith is well known for leading the charge to bring greater innovation to learning.

Drawing on equal passions for teaching and technology, Staff Superintendent Smith created the first e-learning to be used at the Toronto Police Service back in the mid-90s; through vision and drive, he has led TPS to the forefront of technology-enhanced learning. CPKN is very proud to recognize S/Supt. Smith’s commitment and leadership in this field with the F. Darren Smith Award of Excellence.

“We’re extremely pleased to recognize the many contributions that Darren has made to building and facilitating technology-enhanced learning within Canada’s police community,” says Sandy Sweet, President of CPKN. “But more than that, we’re celebrating those personal qualities that have helped drive change in positive and fundamental ways. As the inaugural recipient, Darren has set the bar very high for future honorees.”

As a 33 year veteran of the Toronto Policing Service and long-time member of the CPKN Board of Directors, S/Supt. Smith has been instrumental in enhancing police training models through technology. From those first forays into e-learning nearly two decades ago to building an in-house e-learning development unit at the Toronto Police College, S/Supt. Smith played an integral role in supporting and streamlining TPS’s training program.

"We tend to identify people as digital natives or digital immigrants and assume virtually all are computer literate,” says Smith. “When this is combined with a trend where employee education is outgrowing academia by 10,000 percent, it is clear that the employment sector will soon become the major institution responsible for learning. Technology-assisted learning is inevitable -- it is not a ‘future big thing’; it is simply ‘the now thing.’”

“New technology is common but new thinking can be rare,” continues Smith. ”Any growth requires a temporary loss of security. As leaders, we must embrace it. As police educators, we need to integrate technology seamlessly into curricula instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event. The time has come to bring the learning to our people rather than people to the learning."

“Darren is a progressive leader. His clear vision, his courage in taking bold steps, and his innate desire to achieve excellence in all of his endeavours drive him to realize positive changes that help to make the Toronto Police Service a world leader in policing,” says Bill Blair, Chief of the Toronto Police Service. “His particular devotion to service and his passion for training helped him to develop a model of delivery that is effective and adaptive to change. The F. Darren Smith Award of Excellence is the best way to honour Darren’s achievements and to motivate others toward achieving excellent results.”

Julian Fantino, Chair of the CPKN Board of Directors also shared his thoughts: "I have always admired Darren's strategic approach to police training. His extraordinary vision and leadership in the full spectrum of police education has made a truly valuable contribution to the enhanced effectiveness of policing in Canada."

CPKN will accept nominations for the F. Darren Smith Award of Excellence throughout the year. Nominations will be reviewed by a Committee and the award presented in conjunction with the annual Stanhope Conference. Additional details including nomination criteria and form will be posted to the CPKN website in the coming month.

In addition to this award, CPKN will make an annual $500 donation in the recipient’s name to Dr. John Turnbull's Research and Patient Equipment and Services for the ALS Clinic at McMaster University Medical Centre.

Also see the news release from Toronto Police Service at: