For Cadisha Miceli, a career in public service is something she’s always wanted to pursue. However, where she ended up is something she never would have predicted.

 From as far back as she can remember, Miceli had wanted to be a police officer, so she earned her Police Foundations diploma through Humber College. During those courses, an instructor shared a job posting for a protective services officer with the Ontario Place Corporation, suggesting the students apply to get some real-world experience.

“I didn’t really know the profession existed,” Miceli confesses. “It was one of the best summer jobs I’ve ever had.”

From there, Miceli was awarded multiple scholarships and pursued a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration at the University of Guelph-Humber. As part of her coursework, Miceli had to complete a portfolio and apply for a job. Her main goal was to apply to the Toronto Police Service, but they weren’t hiring. That’s where she learned of a security guard opportunity at the City of Toronto. Now, 10 years later, Miceli is the Senior Security Coordinator for the City of Toronto under the Corporate Real Estate Management (CREM) division.

“I just sort of fell into a security career,” Miceli says. “I am still in it now because I really do love the work that I do.”

Public safety is top priority

In her role as Senior Security Coordinator, Miceli wears a lot of hats, including overseeing security operations for numerous clients at the Association of Community Centres (AOCCs). The AOCCs is comprised of volunteer Boards of Management which manage, operate and maintain Toronto’s 10 community centres. Miceli also oversees the security programs at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, which enforces Marine Transportation Security Regulations aligned with Transport Canada.

The team at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal has a base of 20 guards but can reach as high as 80 (including contractors) during peak seasonal times. Crowd control is one of the main challenges when it comes to managing security at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, which sees more than 1.3 million visitors pass through each year. Miceli says her guards love providing good customer service to the ferry users — who are always asking about ferry schedules, its history, or some highlights to visit while in Toronto.

“They are ultimately ambassadors for the city of Toronto who are also tasked with public safety,” Miceli says. “I work closely with waterfront management to deliver some solutions for consideration and to help balance customer service and the public safety aspect of the job.”

On top of her duties at the ferry terminal, Miceli’s portfolio previously included contract management at the St. Lawrence Market Complex, one of the world’s top food markets. In operation since 1803, the Market hosts more than 120 vendors and millions of visitors each year.

Even though the security at the Market is contracted out, Miceli treated the guards just as if they were one of her own city staff.

Miceli’s role previously involved updating the security post orders, coordinating security plans and coverage for special events, reviewing reports and conducting follow-ups with the security team to make sure that the operation is in alignment with the city standard.

“Knowing that they’re contractors, they’re going to come in with their limitations, but I give them the same level of attention that I give to an in-house guard because I want them to feel like part of the team,” she says. “The Market vendors and the success of their small businesses are very near to my heart, so I would work in partnership with Toronto Police Service Neighborhood Community Officer Program and the contract security team to deliver a safe security operation for visitors — local and international.”

Another aspect of Miceli’s role with the city was election security. For the 2022 municipal election, Miceli was the lead for the city-wide election facilities security program. With a goal of ensuring a safe election and protecting the integrity of the vote, Miceli worked closely with the deputy clerk and her team to make sure the elections went off without any issues for the nearly two million eligible voters.

“It was an incredibly wonderful and eye-opening experience, as elections are truly a huge effort for the public service,” Miceli reveals. “This was the biggest role I have ever been in, and I knew I had impact on all of Toronto. There were a lot of early mornings and a lot of late nights to ensure that we delivered a safe and incident-free municipal election.”

Understand your why

If there is one key piece of advice Miceli can impart to those considering a career in the security field, it would be “understand your why.”

“It’s so important to know why you’re getting into this field, because it’s not as glamorous as people may think it is,” Miceli says. “I’ve had some really interesting security details where I got to protect celebrities, got to meet famous athletes, but then there’s jobs where you’re dealing with some vulnerable communities, which could impact the mental health of any security professional. You need to be sure you’re in it for the right reasons.”

“An entry-level job as a security guard can be a great stepping stone to get into policing and law enforcement,” Miceli says. “It’s a great opportunity for students as they can learn many transferable skills for other careers as well such as accountant, lawyer or facility manager. No matter the end goal, at the end of the day people are counting on security professionals to keep them safe."