In March of 1933, the world would welcome the birth of one of the most influential
humanitarians of our time. Born the youngest of 12, David Toma would have an impact
on millions of lives . David's mother was a missionary and at a very young age she
would take him with her to the prisons where she would pray for the inmates and
offer compassionate and caring words for those with troubled lives.
Growing up in New Jersey, David was a top high school athlete and excelled in all
forms of sports. Even as a teenager, David would always offer a kind word for someone
in need. In 1953 David joined The United States Marine Corp where he would endure
the tough and rigorous training of the Corp of the mid 1950's. Never deterred by
the toughness of the marine training and the injuries that came along with it, David
went on to become a Marine boxing champ and was named outstanding Marine at Parris
Island boot camp.
Upon his discharge of the Marine Corp, David was signed to a minor league baseball
contract as a pitcher. He played with some of the biggest names in baseball including
Willie Mays. However, deciding that the responsibility of supporting his family
was more important, David put his dream of being a major league baseball player
In 1956, David joined the Newark, New Jersey police force where he later became
a detective on the vice, narcotic and gambling squad. Working as a police officer
and detective on the mean streets of Newark, David experienced first-hand the great
struggle many people faced with addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Seeing and interacting first hand with thousands of people who's lives were being
destroyed, David felt a burning desire to do something about it. He studied everything
he could about the effects of narcotics and alcohol combining it with what he learned
in the streets as an undercover detective.
A 1953 photo of David Toma with his partner, Bobbie Cottle on patrol in Newark,
As early as the 1950's, David began speaking
to groups and audiences regarding what he had learned about the dangers of drugs
and alcohol use. With his passion to save lives, David became an outspoken crusader
against drug and alcohol abuse.
Racial integration as a major issue during David's time as a police officer. He
became one of the first white police officers to request and receive an African-American
partner. David continued his quest to ease racial tension even through the Newark
riots of 1967.
David and his wife Pat would suffer a tragic blow in the early 1960's with the death
of their five year old son, David Jr. In an almost unbelievable twist of fate this
happened only minutes after David, while on duty as a police officer, saved the
life of a young boy who was choking. The pain of losing his young son threw David
into a deep state of depression and led to his own battle with addiction to prescription
medication. David was able to turn his struggle around and harness his emotional
trials for further use of his God given gift of helping people.
During this time David made thousands of arrests never once firing his gun. Throughout
his law enforcement career, David was hospitalized numerous times including injuries
sustained from being shot and stabbed. He compiled an astounding conviction rate
of 98 percent. He learned to infiltrate drug gangs, often by disguising himself
- a talent he mastered so completely that he could get in and out of even the most
intricate costumes in under 45 seconds.
David Toma disguised as a priest as part of his undercover police work.
Intrigued by his amazing real life, the ABC television network developed and aired
a TV series based on David's life. The television series was called "Toma" and ran
for one season. The following season the series was re-named "Baretta". The show
starred actor Robert Blake and ran for six seasons. David has also appeared on numerous
radio and talk shows including The "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and "The Mike
David retired from the Newark police departmant and started to lecture full time
all over the country in the mid-1970s. His passion to spread the true word about
the serious dangers of drugs and alcohol would only grow from there. His style of
lecturing would grip audiences from the moment he started to talk. Often times many
teenagers and adults would start to cry while David shared the countless experiences
of the devastation that drugs and alcohol would cause to individuals and families
around the world.
Hundred of people usually line up to talk to David in private
one on one after each lecture. Emotionally drained and tired from speaking for hours,
David would still stay on for even more hours making sure he spoke to each and every
person who seemed his guidance. Thousands of teenagers and people of all ages who
were using drugs and alcohol prior to coming to David's lectures have quit immediately
after hearing David's powerful message. "He truly saves lives".
To date, David has
given over 15,000 lectures and has reached millions with his message. David Toma
is considered by far, "The best there is." David Toma has received countless awards
and honors by some of the most prominent and influential organization and associations
in the world.
In 2004, David Toma was presented with the Four Chaplains Award which is an award
given by the Vietnam Veterans of America and the White House. He considers this
award to be among the most prestigious because it came from the Vietnam Veterans.
He has also received several honorary PhDs. Many hospitals honored David by presenting
him with the Humanitarian Award at Columbus Hospital in Newark, N.J. Some of David's
other awards include the American Patriots and Humanitarian Award which is top honor
given by the International Association of Martial Arts (2003 Hall of Fame). David
Toma was given the distinction of "The World's Greatest Cop " from the Police Benevolence
Association, Correction Officers and was selected by numerous police organizations
as "Humanitarian of the Year". Boys town of Italy named David Toma The 1987 Man
of the Year for his deep concern for the welfare of youth. He served as the keynote
speaker for the Future Farmers of America Convention in Kansas City, Mo. and was
cited by the Memphis City Council for extraordinary service to the city of Memphis.
He is also a member of the Italian-American International Hall of Fame.
In November 2005, David and his wife Pat celebrated 50 years of marriage.
Each week, David receives hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from people seeking
his help and guidance. Often times, David will leave his house in the middle of
the night to help someone simply because they asked for his help. When asked,"Where
do you get the power and energy to deal with these emotional situations day in and
day out", David is quick to give the Glory to God. He tells everyone "If you want
to change your life, you need God in your life!" "God will give you all the power
you will ever need to deal with any situation".
Of his life, David offers the following observation: "I was given a gift by God,
and I've been blessed to spend my life using that gift to serve him by making a
difference in the lives of others. Every one of us was created for a purpose, and
God doesn't make any mistakes. The greatest thing we can achieve in our life is
to discover that gift, and that purpose, and then to spend our life fulfilling it.
What a privilege it has been for me to spend mine in this way."