Losing Sgt. Ryan

Police in funeral procession for Sgt. Ryan Russell from CTV websiteTuesday 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 Mounted police at head of cortege for Sgt. Ryan, CTV websitesnowy 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.

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One thought on “Losing Sgt. Ryan”

  1. I’ve never commented on my own post before, but felt I needed to. I stand by what I’ve written here about Sgt. Russell and the coverage of his funeral. But there is another side that is apart from the individual loss and showing of respect.

    I was reminded of it when listening to Ken Finkleman on CBC Radio Q (Feb. 23/11). I am not a fan of Mr. Finkleman’s tv shows – just to make that clear. But I was struck by his comments on the CBC (and presumably the other networks) allowing the police to “hijack” their media to provide a PR job of extolling ‘policehood’. I wasn’t in Toronto during the G20 demonstrations and police actions. I wasn’t thinking about that side of policing, and being a police officer, while watching the human, and good, side of law enforcement during the procession and funeral. But if I’d been closer to the violence shown by police not long before that day, it would have been pretty hard to not think about it. But the day of the funeral was a time to honour Sgt. Russell and mourn the senseless loss of him. It was also a time to respect law enforcement and ‘first responders’ that do their job honourably and well. Still, there’s another side that’s also important to remember.

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