Police Heroes

Community News & Features Oct 16, 2004 at 11:27 am

By Manny Bade

In my two previous articles, I have written about racism in the police force of Toronto and deplored the outright brutality among some of its members. But I also never forget that the majority of police officers are decent human beings, working hard under risky conditions some of them extreme, to uphold their sworn duty to serve and protect the public. And in fact, many of them have given up their lives fighting for us.

In Canada, over 690 police officers have died in the hands of criminals while performing their jobs beyond the call of duty. It would be remiss of me not to mention their supreme sacrifice.

Just a few months ago, Cobourg Police Constable Christopher Garrett, 39, a devoted husband and father of two was killed on May 15, 2004 while responding to a robbery call. It was particularly outrageous to remember that Constable Garrett died under treacherous circumstances the robber slashed the good-hearted officer’s throat when he came over to help him as he lay on his back pretending to need medical attention. It was little consolation that before dying Constable Garrett wounded his murderer, who it was learned later planned to murder more police officers. Even in death, Constable Garrett had saved others. His friend and colleague Police Constable John Roughly remembered him with these words: “It’s important for people to realize how much we sacrifice.” No truer words than these realizing how these officers have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for our sake.

At a ceremony honouring the fallen officers on Parliament Hill last September 26, 2004, Denise Leblanc, widow of Officer Garrett and his two children Brittany and Benjamin must have felt mixed emotions as Constable Garrett’s name and deed were mentioned on the one hand pride for what he has done, and on the other the profound loss for Denise and the children who will grow up bereft of a father who loved them. Words cannot express the poignancy one feels looking at the children, who need not look around for another hero to emulate. I believe the annals of our police heroes should be read into the minds of our children so they will grow up to admire real heroes, instead of sports and entertainment personalities.

Who can ever forget a few years ago when Constable Todd Baylis, responding to a 911 call ran into a drug dealer wanted in Canada for among others sneaking back into the country after having been deported to Jamaica? I could not help but admire the self- control of Constable Baylis’s wounded partner who had his gun aimed at the head of the police-killer, also lying wounded, and did not finish him off. It sent shivers down my spine to see thousands of police officers from the U.S., Canada, and other countries marching shoulder to shoulder in honour of their fallen comrade in his funeral.

Scenes like this remind us of the danger our police have to face on a daily basis from criminal elements out to wreak havoc in our society preying on the innocent and the weak, notably the children. We can never forget these officers are the thin line separating peace and anarchy in our city.
And as we remember the fallen, let us not forget also those who continually put their lives on the line so we can walk safely on our streets and sleep soundly at home.