ITHACA, N.Y. — When Officer Colin Hayward Toland joined the Ithaca Police Department at 9 years old, he did so with one intention that he reiterated at his promotion ceremony Monday morning.
“Because I want to help the world be a better place,” he said.
About 30 people — officers, community members, family — were at the Ithaca Police Department Headquarters to congratulate Colin as he was promoted to the rank of sergeant.
“Officer Colin was selected to be an honorary police officer because he has all the qualities we look for in a police officer here in Ithaca. He has passion for community, a strong commitment for helping others, and his courage is second to none,”Acting Police Chief Pete Tyler said. “Indeed, Colin’s journey is inspiring, and I am honored to work along side of him.”
Officer Colin was recruited onto the force after meeting former IPD Chief John Barber at the Southside Community Barbecue in 2016. Colin, has fought an ongoing battle with brain cancer and tumors on-and-off since he was about 2-years-old. After chemotherapy and several surgeries, he went into remission, but the cancer returned in January 2015. He will be undergoing his seventh brain surgery on Friday.
Since Colin has been at IPD, he has patrolled the Ithaca Commons, been named Officer of the Month, starred in community safety videos on behalf of the department, and even stopped The Grinch from stealing Christmas last year.
Mayor Svante Myrick was there to swear in Colin as an officer and was at the ceremony Monday to swear him in as a sergeant.
Myrick said Colin’s desire to be an officer was inspirational enough, but it’s his dedication to the job that makes him stand out.
For instance, three officers were recently promoted and Colin was invited to attend the ceremony. He wasn’t feeling well that day, and it was suggested that he stay home. But Colin refused.
“He said, ‘Duty calls,’ so he put on his uniform and he came in. That kind of spirit is why we are proud to promote you,” Myrick said.
Follow Officer Colin on Facebook here to keep up with his progress. All photos by Jolene Almendarez/The Ithaca Voice