Abbotsford Police officer honoured for basketball tournament

The Abbotsford Police Award for Outstanding Community Service was presented Tuesday to the officer responsible for organizing a major high school basketball tournament in the community.

Abbotsford Police Const. Derek Baker receives the Outstanding Community Service award from committee chair Brian Lee.

Abbotsford Police Const. Derek Baker receives the Outstanding Community Service award from committee chair Brian Lee.

The Abbotsford Police Award for Outstanding Community Service was presented Tuesday to the officer responsible for organizing a major high school basketball tournament in the community.

Const. Derek Baker received the honour, presented for the year 2009, for his extensive work leading up to the creation of the Abbotsford Police Department high school basketball tournament two years ago.

The event continued in 2010, when 750 local athletes from Grade 8 to 12 attended the tournament. The tourney is also taking place this year, when it is anticipated all schools will take part.

Baker spent countless hours planning and organizing the event, outside of his regular policing duties.

At Tuesday’s police board meeting, he received a trophy and a replica of his police badge which will be mounted on a plaque.

The award was presented by local jeweller Brian Lee, who chairs the public committee which selects the recipient.

The tournament is a way for the police to build bridges with local youth.

Commenting on the tournament last fall, Baker said, “It’s easy for us to sit here and say, ‘Choose a crime-free lifestyle,’ but this is an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is, and provide kids an outlet to be involved in something positive.”

Hired by the APD in 2003, Baker was formerly a high school teacher in Maple Ridge. He has developed and coordinated several sports programs through schools and community centres.

The Outstanding Community Service Award for 2010 will be presented to Abbotsford Police Sgt. Mike Novakowski at a later date for his work in creating, producing and presenting the “Operation” series of programs aimed at steering kids away from a criminal lifestyle.

The series, including Operating Impact and Operation Tarnish, includes posters, videos and school presentations which began in 2009.

Novakowksi has been with the department since 1989, when it operated as the Matsqui Police Department before the communities of Matsqui and Abbotsford amalgamated.