Mike Cox

General Amherst, Amherstburg police square off in charity hockey game



By Ron Giofu


The General Amherst Bulldogs boys hockey team and the Amherstburg police hockey team squared off in a game during the holidays, but the big winners were Ontario Special Olympics.

The charity game saw the Bulldogs win on the scoreboard but no one seemed to care about the final result afterword as proceeds went to the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which in turn helps support Special Olympics.

Sgt. Mike Cox said it was the reintroduction of the charity game with General Amherst, noting that players who now play for the police team once played against them when they were in high school. He hoped it would be the first of two charity hockey games before the season is over.

The General Amherst Bulldogs and Amherstburg police hockey teams gather for a group photo following their charity hockey game for the Torch Run Dec. 22. The Torch Run helps support Ontario Special Olympics.

“I’m hoping to play the Admirals at the end of their season,” said Cox. “Hopefully it will be in June after they win a championship.”

The game against the Bulldogs featured several father/son combinations on the Amherstburg police team, including Don and Gage Brown, Chris and Luke Renaud as well as Joe and Kyle Shaw. Joe Shaw is usually an assistant coach with the Bulldogs while Kyle is a former OHL player. Another former OHL player, Zack Percy, also suited up for the police team.

General Amherst head coach Pat Garrett said his team had the opportunity to participate in the charity game and they seized it.

“Obviously, it’s a fantastic cause,” Garrett said of Ontario Special Olympics. “It’s a cause we all believe in.”

Garrett credited General Amherst principal Melissa DeBruyne for getting the game back on the Bulldogs’ schedule. DeBruyne, who played up for the police team, said she was glad to do it.

“It’s just about giving back to Special Olympics,” she said. “It was an opportunity to bring back a past tradition.”

The final day before the Christmas break for the school also saw a staff-student volleyball game and the staff prepare breakfast for the students.

“It’s about bringing the community in,” she said. “It’s the spirit of giving. It was a lot of fun.”

Sgt. Mike Cox drops the puck between General Amherst boys hockey team captain Josh DiCarlo (left) and principal Melissa DeBruyne, who suited up for the police team at the recent charity hockey game.

DeBruyne said the school received donations from Maria’s Restaurant, Meloche’s No Frills, Sobeys, parent council and teachers.

As for her playing for the police team, DeBruyne said she enjoys playing hockey whenever she gets a chance.

“I’ve got such a passion for hockey,” she said. “Every time I get on the ice, I love it.”

Amherstburg Police Service recognizes officers, civilians… and a dog



By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Police Service’s annual awards night honoured those with two legs as well as those with four last Tuesday night.

The awards dinner, held at Riccardo’s Italian Restaurant, saw four officers, two civilians, an organization and – for the first time ever – a dog recognized as part of the night.

A Citizen Recognition Award went to Macie, a golden retriever owned by the Morden family. Macie went outside through her doggie door the morning of Aug. 19 and noticed something strange. She began barking loud enough so her owners would check what was going on.

The winners of awards at the Amherstburg Police Service awards dinner gather for a group photo. From left: Chief Tim Berthiaume (with Grant Morden and Macie), Jodi Ouellette and Joanna Conrad from the Essex County Diversion Program, town fleet mechanic Randy Riediger, Pauline Gemmell, Sr. Const. Margaret O’Brien and Sgt. Mike Cox. Absent are Sgt. Don Brown (25-year service award) and Sr. Const. Sean Gazdig (10-year service award).

“When Julie Morden looked out the window, she noticed that her vehicle door was open,” said Const. Steve Owen, the community services officer and master of ceremonies for the award presentations. “As a result, police were contacted and within 15 minutes a male was arrested in the area with several stolen items located on him that had been taken from numerous vehicles in the area.”

Also honoured with a Citizen Recognition Award was Pauline Gemmell, who served on the Amherstburg Police Services Board (APSB).

The Community Partnership Award went to the Essex County Diversion Program. Youth justice case manager Jodi Ouellette (left) and executive director Joanna Conrad (right) accept the award from Chief Tim Berthiaume.

“During this time, the service has maintained a competitive budget while improving the look of our police vehicles and implementing new equipment such as less lethal shotguns, carbine rifles, and body cameras. The town was also one of the safest town’s in Canada during her tenure,” said Owen.

Chief Tim Berthiaume presents a Citizen Recognition Award to Pauline Gemmell.

The Essex County Diversion Program was honoured with the Community Partnership Award.

“The Essex County Diversion Program seeks to promote and foster a healthy community by providing timely and effective intervention with at-risk youth. For those who are not familiar with extrajudicial measures, it is a program that allows youth to avoid going to court and receiving a sentence, by taking responsibility for their actions and making amends for the wrongs that they have done, through methods such as rehabilitation, community service, paying for damages, and apologizing to those they have affected,” Owen stated. “They also offer outreach programs which act as a preventative strategy to educate youth on a variety of topics such as bullying, sexting, drugs abuse, and video game addictions to name a few. Youth Diversion is a strong partner of the Amherstburg Police service and the community of Amherstburg.”

Sr. Const. Margaret O’Brien receives a 25-year service award from Chief Tim Berthiaume.

Officers receiving long-service awards included Sr. Const. Sean Gazdig, who was recognized for ten years of service. Gazdig was unable to attend the dinner.

Gazdig began his policing career in 2005 with the London Police Service and was later hired in 2007 by the Amherstburg Police Service. He began working in general patrol and is now in the traffic enforcement unit. He is a trained police motorcycle operator and he acts as a coach officer to newly hired constables.

“Each year Sean participates as an instructor for annual firearms training for the officers of both the Amherstburg and Windsor police,” Owen added.

Two officers were recognized with 25-year service awards.

Chief Tim Berthiaume presents Sgt. Mike Cox (left) with a 30-year service award.

Sr. Const. Margaret O’Brien began her policing career with the Amherstburg Police Service in 1992. She is currently a detective in the criminal investigations division.

“Maggie has received training in interviewing and interrogation, search warrant writing, asset forfeiture, and is a certified property and evidence specialist to name a few of the assets she brings to the service,” Owen pointed out.

Sgt. Don Brown, who was also unable to attend the dinner, also began with the Amherstburg Police Service in 1992. His background includes being a patrol constable, marine operator, patrol sergeant and is now the detective sergeant in the criminal investigations division.

Randy Riediger (left) receives a Chief’s Award of Excellence from Chief Tim Berthiaume.

“Don has been trained in many areas including investigating offences against children, investigative interviewing and has been a trained breath technician,” said Owen.

Receiving a 30-year service award was Sgt. Mike Cox, who began his policing career in Amherstburg in 1987.

“Mike Cox was a community police officer before there was community policing. Mike has been a fixture with our local community living organization and with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics,” said Owen. “In 2004, Mike co-founded the Amherstburg Heroes, a basketball league for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Despite not seeking recognition, Mike has been recognized for his work by the community several times. Mike has received the Exemplary Service Medal, the Chief’s Award of Excellence, the Windsor Parade Corporations 911 Community Service Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the CanDo 150 Award of Distinction.”

Cox has been trained as a breath technician and coach officer to name a few of his specialties, Owen added. He has served in many roles including constable, patrol sergeant, operations sergeant, and has previously co-ordinated our auxiliary program.

Chief Tim Berthiaume recognizes Macie, a golden retriever, with a Canine Recognition Award. Holding Macie is one of her owners, Grant Morden.

The Chief’s Award of Excellence is described as “the highest award of the Amherstburg Police Service.” It is awarded to an individual, organization or institution that has made a significant contribution to the Amherstburg Police Service or the community.

Randy Riediger, a fleet mechanic with the town since 2004, was this year’s recipient and was described as “one of the hardest workers the town of Amherstburg has known.”

Owen stated “the doors at his garage are always cycling vehicles in and out and keeping our town vehicles and notably our police vehicles on the road. His relentless work ethic has allowed our police vehicles to remain in-house for service and allowed our operating budget to remain competitive and has saved money for the taxpayers.”

Riediger’s efforts assist the Amherstburg Police Service in doing its job, Owen added.

“When our residents call police for assistance and we show up, they just see the police car pull up and the police officer get out. What they don’t see are the people like Randy who keep our service operating effectively and efficiently,” said Owen.

Chief Tim Berthiaume said the awards night was created to honour officers, residents and partners of the police service.

“Taking the time to recognize their contributions brings us together and allows us to grow together,” said Berthiaume. “Our success is dependent on all of us coming together in a positive way.”

Berthiaume thanked town staff for their roles in assisting the Amherstburg Police Service and managing its $6 million budget. Berthiaume also thanked the Amherstburg Fire Department, but joked “thanks for making the Amherstburg Police Service look so good.”

Berthiaume said working together assists everyone.

“The benefit of all this hard work is the community, our community,” the chief added.

Heroes’ baseball season underway after wrapping up basketball season


By RTT Staff


The Essex County Heroes has started its annual baseball season after completing the basketball portion of the program recently.

The Heroes met up with officers from Essex OPP last week at Essex District High School for a basketball game as part of National Access Awareness Week. The week also included a basketball season-ending pizza party at the Fort Fun Centre in Amherstburg.

Michelle Jones-Rousseau, who co-founded the Heroes with Sgt. Mike Cox of the Amherstburg Police Service, was happy with how the year went.

The Essex County Heroes recently went head-to-head with the Essex County OPP in a friendly basketball game.

The Essex County Heroes recently went head-to-head with the Essex County OPP in a friendly basketball game.

“It was a very successful year,” she said. “We had a lot of new faces. We’ve grown so much.”

The Heroes’ basketball program was in Essex for the second straight year, the first at Essex District High School. The Essex component of the program is overseen by OPP officer Sean MacKinnon and Debbie Alexander. It has been roughly a decade at General Amherst High School.

“(Essex) has doubled in size,” said Jones-Rousseau.

There is about 100 people between both sites who participate in Heroes.

There are new athletes that regularly want to join the program and the growth in both towns show the people with disabilities still want opportunities to play sports.

“It just goes to show there is a need out there for recreational activities,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Kyle Jones takes a shot during recent game action in Essex.

Kyle Jones takes a shot during recent game action in Essex.

There is a “large turnover in volunteers,” she added, as students get their volunteer hours but as they get older, work commitments come into play and new volunteers are needed. She pointed out people don’t have to come every week to volunteer.

“For the Heroes, everyone is looking forward to baseball,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Baseball is held Wednesday nights in the indoor sports field at the Libro Centre starting at 6:30 p.m.

Athletes with the Heroes show a lot of personal growth, she added.

“They’ve got the confidence they are good players and they enjoy the exercise,” said Jones-Rousseau.

Admirals face off with Amherstburg police for Special Olympics



By Ron Giofu


The Integrity Amherstburg Admirals were back in action Sunday afternoon but the result of the game didn’t matter much.

The Admirals faced off with the Amherstburg Police Service in a friendly game for Ontario Special Olympics and while the Admirals won 6-4, the more important part of the day was the cause.

The Amherstburg Police Service team and the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals pose with the Memorial Cup between periods of last Sunday’s hockey game for Special Olympics Ontario.

The Amherstburg Police Service team and the Integrity Amherstburg Admirals pose with the Memorial Cup between periods of last Sunday’s hockey game for Special Olympics Ontario.

“Any time we have an opportunity to be involved with a local cause with great people like the police, it’s a no-brainer for us,” said Admirals co-owner Wes Ewer.

Ewer said it was great to be playing on the same day the Memorial Cup trophy was in Amherstburg with both teams being photographed with it after the first period.

“It’s fantastic,” added co-owner Matt Fox. “Special Olympics has a special tie to the Admirals family. It’s a great event.”
Fox added it was another occasion to draw people into town and show off the community.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo drops the puck between B.J. Wiley of the Amherstburg Police and Luke Gagnon of the Admirals.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo drops the puck between B.J. Wiley of the Amherstburg Police and Luke Gagnon of the Admirals.

Ewer and Fox both suited up for the police team with Ewer guaranteeing at least a two-goal win for that team. Unfortunately for him, the result went the other way.

The only down side to the game was a leg injury to Admirals’ defenseman Aaron Jacobs, who was hurt in the second period and had to be taken from the ice on a stretcher. He gave a thumbs-up as he left the ice.

Special Olympics game3

Admirals co-owners Wes Ewer and Matt Fox suited up for the Amherstburg police team Sunday afternoon, with Ewer (14) checking Admirals forward Dylan Muzzatti against the boards.

Sgt. Mike Cox, who has helped lead local fundraising efforts for Ontario Special Olympics for over two decades, said the game has been held for years with General Amherst High School and various travel teams as the opponents but the Admirals became the opponent when they came to town.

“We’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember in one form or another,” said Cox.

Cox estimated the game raised about $500 for Special Olympics Ontario.

Law Enforcement Torch Run comes through Amherstburg



By RTT Staff


It was wet, it was colder than normal but that didn’t stop law enforcement officers from taking part in the annual Torch Run.

Officers from the Amherstburg Police Service joined their colleagues from around the area in participating in this year’s Law Enforcement Torch Run, with the run taking place in last Thursday’s pouring rain.

The Amherstburg leg of the Torch Run featured a different route this year, as it started at Joe Meloche Ford and finished up at Community Living Essex County’s Channel Resource Centre, located on Bathurst St. The previous route saw them start at the Amherstburg police station and end at Joe Meloche Ford.

Const. Steve Owen, the community services officer with Amherstburg police, said the routes were changed up for 2017.

“We wanted to have more stops, hit more people and use shorter distances,” said Owen, noting they ran 14 kilometres in total.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run came through Amherstburg May 4, where it made a stop at Channel Resource Centre.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run came through Amherstburg May 4, where it made a stop at Channel Resource Centre.

They also wanted to run past high schools and elementary schools, Owen added.

“The whole purpose is to raise awareness for Special Olympics,” he stated.

Despite the rain, Owen said during the Amherstburg stop that the run was going well. In all, there were runs in Leamington, Kingsville, Belle River, Tecumseh, Windsor and LaSalle with it concluding in Essex.

A fundraising total was not currently available, as Owen noted that they are still raising money.

“We’re still collecting funds,” said Owen. “Money is still coming in.”

The 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run also marked the final one for Sgt. Mike Cox. Cox, a local leader in raising money for Special Olympics, has stated this was his last one after running for the last 29 years.