Thursday, May 11, 2006

River City Mourns

This has been a very hard day in River City. On Friday, May 5, we lost a police officer. For the first time in River City’s history, a police officer has died in the line of duty. He was shot by an 18-year-old drug runner. When the young man learned what he had done, he was distraught.
It is rare, relatively speaking, for anyone in Canada to die by gunfire. Gun ownership and use is strictly controlled here. If people get in a fight outside a bar, there’s a stabbing, not gunfire. For a police officer to be shot by a suspect is almost unheard of, especially in a city as small as ours.
And that’s the other factor—this is a small town. Everyone in River City knows everyone else, one way or another. They know the brothers and sisters, or worked with the aunt, or went to school with the patrol partner, or have a sister in the police service.
A group of hotels in town are donating 10 percent of their returns from room reserved by the many police who came to town for the funeral. The money will go to a trust fund for the officer's two school-age children (seven and nine). Blue ribbons are popping up all over town--also raising funds for the children.
The city is virtually shut down today. The premier of Ontario paid his respects; the mayor, too. There were more Mounties than I could count, and the Ontario Provincial Police were there, too. The weather is appropriately dark and gloomy and chilly and rainy today. The Mounties and police will stand shoulder to shoulder along the route, saluting as the constable passes by, one last time. His brothers and sisters in the service, along with his family, will escort him to the cemetery. His last patrol.

In memory

Sr. Constable John Atkinson

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