RCMP officers in red serge at the unveiling of the Fallen Officer Memorial outside the Chilliwack RCMP detachment on Nov. 8. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Acknowledging the sacrifices made on our behalf

Memorial to fallen RCMP members takes on new poignancy in wake of Abbotsford shooting

Most of us who leave for work each morning are confident we will return home that evening.

Not all jobs carry that luxury.

This week, we were once again reminded of that cruel reality.

Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson was a 24-year veteran of law enforcement. Part of the Abby PD for the past six years, he began his policing career in northern England in 1993.

On Monday he was shot and killed, leaving a community in shock, and friends and family in mourning.

“He was the type of person you would want policing in your community,” said Const. Ian MacDonald. “He was passionate. He was compassionate. He was willing to put himself in harm’s way and equally willing to extend his hand to help anyone.”

And he was not alone.

Every day law enforcement officers wade into a world peppered with risk and uncertainty – but one where their empathy and understanding is expected.

It is a world of increasing violence. The number of weapons on the street, the level of violence seen almost daily in the Lower Mainland, is a reminder of the threat our law enforcement members face.

It’s changed the way our police respond. We’ve seen it here in Chilliwack where the report of a gun will bring a massive police presence – even prompt the lockdown of a nearby school.

And it’s not just the guns. Vehicle crashes steal lives or leave devastating injuries.

And then there’s the emotional toll.

In an ironic twist, Chilliwack RCMP gathered on Wednesday to unveil a monument to fallen members of the detachment.

The event was scheduled before the death of Const. Davidson. But the Abbotsford shooting brought fresh poignancy to the commemoration.

Inscribed on the monument are the names of two members of the Upper Fraser Valley detachment. Const. Gerald Fortis, who died from injuries sustained in a crash on Christmas Day in 1997; and, Const. Vernon Genaille, who suffered a heart attack while arresting a suspect on Dec. 22, 2002.

The last Sunday in September has been set aside to honour police and peace officers who have died in the line of duty. But said Superintendent Deanne Burleigh, Officer in Charge with the UFVRD: “We remember our fallen officers every day.”

It is easy to take for granted the sacrifices people make on our behalf. Our police, firefighters and other first responders routinely put their lives before others. Our armed forces remain active in locations around the world, or train here at home to defend our way of life.

On Saturday as we pause and remember the men and women who never did come home, let’s acknowledge those who have the courage and commitment to put on that uniform and go to work every day to keep our communities safe.

Greg Knill is editor of the Chilliwack Progress

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