A crowd gathered Monday afternoon at the outdoor ampitheatre behind City Hall to celebrate the bravery of Kingston Police Constable Fil Wisniak. Const. Wisniak received a Police Association Of Ontario’s (PAO) 2020 Police Services Hero of the Year Award for his life-saving actions during a fatal stabbing incident in Kingston last fall.
Approximately fifty civilians, a dozen uniformed police officers, and representatives from all levels of government attended the event.
Const. Wisniak specifically won the On-Duty Difference Maker Award in the Police Officer Category, one of three designations for the PAO honour. According to PAO President Bruce Chapman, Const. Wisniak was one of over 300 officers from across Ontario nominated by members of their communities.
“The nomination period closed the second week of March, just as COIVD-19 pandemic hit,” Chapman said. “Now that we are allowed to gather… we undertook to do a small tour to hand deliver awards to all our 2020 winners and finalists. I am so honoured to be here today in Kingston.”
“You are a true hero,” Kingston’s Chief of Police Antje McNeely told Const. Wisniak when she spoke. “I thank you for all that you do for our community and for our force. I often think of that tragedy, and what could have been if not for your willingness to stand in harm’s way to protect others.”
She said her thoughts continue to be with those who were impacted on that day, when a local man was fatally stabbed in downtown Kingston. “We are grateful for the overwhelming support shown by the community not only for our Hero of the Year, but for our members and our first responders,” she said.
Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson called Const. Wisniak an example of “the very best of Kingston Police.”
“Our community is behind you,” he said. “Thank you so much.”
Ian Arthur, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kingston of the Islands, said he was struck by Const. Wisniak’s modesty in recounting his own actions. “To be here now to celebrate your dedication to this job in a humble and quiet fashion is remarkable,” Arthur said. “Thank you for your dedication and for everyone else who served with you.”
Some speakers took the opportunity to signal their support for the police force, following a summer of scrutiny towards police budgets and police conduct across North America. Etobicoke MPP Christine Hogarth attended on behalf of Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
“I want to thank all our men and women in uniform for what they do every day,” Hogarth said, at two points in her speech. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and know that you are supported by this government, and you will continue to be supported.”
Kingston and the Islands Member of Parliament Mark Gerretsen also spoke. “Right now folks, it’s not easy being a police officer in our world,” he said. “It’s stories like this that we have to showcase and celebrate. It’s people like Fil that make our quality of life here in Kingston and the Islands so incredible.” Gerretsen thanked Const. Wisniak on behalf of the federal government.
Wisniak was recognized for his actions on Sept. 12, 2019, when a 22 year old man began stabbing pedestrians at a downtown Kingston intersection. The PAO nomination for Const. Wisniak – a 10 year veteran of the Kingston Police – states that he was on foot when the call came in. Two blocks away from the incident at the time, he sprinted to the call. Upon his arrival, one man had been fatally stabbed and another man was being attacked. “Constable Wisniak intervened without hesitation,” says the nomination, “the male was about to attack a woman who was attempting to provide aid to one of the victims.”
“Your quick thinking that day saved the lives of two members of the Kingston community,” said Chapman to Wisniak. “I’m honoured to recognise your achievement.”