Date of lunch:
Friday, March 13, 2009 (and technically it was breakfast)
It will be difficult to summarize Gary Ellis’s bio in this small space. It was tough just to come up with a title for this post. But a lot can be garnered from the nicknames those around him have assigned. His students at Georgian call him Chuck – as in “Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.” And his colleagues in the police force call him Forrest Gump – as in he always seems to fall into incredible situations and opportunities. Situations and opportunities such as superintendent at the Toronto Police, FBI National Academy Associate, RCMP National Executive Development Program facilitator, Professor, published author and it goes on and gets COOLER!
We had breakfast (but we’ll count it as lunch) at Flo’s Diner in Yorkville. Gary had Flo’s Omelet and I had Waffle with Fruit. We also both had coffee. Gary’s omelet looked pretty delish and the waffle was good and so was the fruit but it definitely needed something else like syrup or whipped cream. Total bill was $25 with tax.
The lunch lesson:
There are so many! I learned so much. But I think Gary’s best lesson is something he tells his students all the time and he passed on to me. “If you look at another and you cannot see yourself, you haven’t looked deep enough… but for the want of that could be me.” Gary says this is an important lesson for any police officer as they often deal with people having difficult times, be it mental health issues or addiction, and it is easier to help if you are able to see that they are human as well. But this is a lesson that applies to life – not just policing – and if everyone could see the human side of those they deal with, we’d all be better off.
Gary works as an associate at my work (another one of his many jobs) but I have never really had the chance to talk to him. I remember when Gary started, a brief announcement with bio was sent around the company. I read it and instantly decided that I wanted to sit next to Gary at the holiday party. I pretty much just had to read “FBI” and I was instantly intrigued.
Some of Gary’s proudest accomplishments with the police, work that he continues today, is around saving children from abuse. When he was on the force, Gary led the change of perception of child pornography from a morality issue to a victim issue – because the real issue is saving these kids that are involved. He worked to get funding from the government and helped to set-up a force committed to saving these children.
Given the lack of borders online, saving these kids is often an international endeavour. Gary has now taken many of the best practices he helped to develop in Toronto, and in working with the RCMP, helps train forces from other countries to do the same work to save these children.
Due to the remote chance that I will ever meet anyone again who has been to the FBI headquarters in Quantico, I had to ask a few questions. There really are fake streets and fake buildings where dummies pop up and trainees enact mock situations. For real! It’s not just in the movies. He did say the school part of it doesn’t look that exciting, mostly just like a campus. But can you imagine the stuff you would learn there? Gary knows some really interesting stuff, but he obviously can’t tell me all of it. Gary has also been a keynote speaker at The Institute of World Politics in Washington. Again, Gary isn’t able to tell me the contents of that presentation, but I can imagine it was fascinating.
Gary has also worked on many of the high profile major crime cases that occurred in Toronto that I followed on the news – Gary was often the spokesperson on behalf of the police on TV. Gary is now retired from the police force (currently still working at least 2 full time jobs and one part time) and is taking his time now to pass along a lot of the knowledge that he has learned through his career. One of his lines from his PhD thesis that he continues to use to this day is “Conflict handled responsibly leads to positive change.” This seems to be how Gary works – responsibly handling conflict – be it as a police officer, teacher, stakeholder, communicator – and doing so with the end goal of positive change.
A very awesome lunch/breakfast indeed! And I definitely still want to sit next to Gary at the next staff party.