Tuesday morning, I turned on the tv to watch my tape of Coronation Street. On CBC, I saw the funeral procession for Sgt. Ryan Russell of the Toronto Police Force. For the next several hours, I watched the procession and the funeral. There were over 12000 police officers, firefighters, EMTs and soldiers. There was silence on the streets lined with people watching the procession. The funeral in the huge Metro Convention Centre was beautiful and sad. It was also a forceful reminder of the risk taken every day by men and women who choose policing as a career. And a reminder that they are people with spouses, children, parents and siblings – family, friends and colleagues have lost an important part of their world.
Sgt. Russell was a recreational hockey player and a major hockey fan. Legendary Montreal Canadiens goalie and senator Ken Dryden spoke to CBC on behalf of the Canadian government. Sgt. Russell was fatally struck January 12th trying to stop a stolen snowplow on snowy Toronto streets. All part of a quintessentially Canadian story perhaps. And a story, and fear, shared by the thousands marching; police officers from across Canada and the US, firefighters, EMTs, members of the Armed Forces, RCMP in red serge, traffic wardens, K-9 unit dogs and horses from Toronto’s Mounted Police. If it isn’t you who steps into the line of fire, it might be your friend.
I have a cousin who is a retired OPP officer. I never gave it much thought. Bill was a cop, other cousins were mechanics, one worked in an office, one in a grocery store. Different jobs for different interests. I never really thought that, for over 20 years, Bill put himself deliberately in danger. We all can get hit by a bus or be attacked by a crazy or evil person. But cops seek out the crazies and evil-doers. That is their job. Thank you, Bill, and all of you.
Photos are from CTV‘s website. Thanks, and thanks to CBC and Global for devoting five hours of airtime to the full funeral. There is a trust fund for Russell’s son Nolan set up at CIBC.