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Police aren’t more important, just different

Recently, several callers to Newstalk 1010 angrily complained about the
large public funerals and media attention given police funerals.  One
particular listener, who identified himself as a construction worker,
bitterly complained that almost 400 construction workers were killed
last year, and none of them received public funerals or attention from
the media.  This caller also called the police attendance at the funeral
of Constable Ryan Russell was “a show of force”, rather than a
demonstration of condolence and mourning.

Firstly, the deaths of the construction workers who fell from a collapsed scaffolding in
December 2009 did receive a lot of media attention.  The media are
pretty good at picking out and covering stories that are in the public
interest.

Secondly, while any death is tragic, the death of a
police officer cannot realistically be compared to deaths in most other
professions, which are usually accidental deaths due to inattention or
failure to comply with safety standards (by either the employee or the
employer).

While some police officers have died under accidental circumstances, many others have been specifically targeted because they were police or peace officers.  Quite simply, it is a job where some people purposly try to kill you or at least cause serious
bodily harm.

In 1980, Toronto Police Constable Michael Sweet was
shot, held hostage and allowed to blead to death because he was a
police officer.  He was also in the bistro where he was shot because he
was a police officer.  He wasn’t a paying customer who happened to be in
the shop having a cup of coffee.  He was a polcie officer responding to
a robbery.

In 1997, OPP Constable Thomas Coffin was shot in the
back of the head, while off-duty and enjoying a beer at the Commodore
Hotel in Penetanguishene, by a man who specifically targeted him because
Coffin had charged him with impaired driving. Constable Coffin died
instantly.

In 2006, Windsor Police Constable John Atkinson was
killed after he went to investigate a drug deal outside a local
convenience store.  Does anyone believe his convicted murderer would
have paid much attention to Atkinson if he was just an “ordiary
citizen”?

While the youth charged in the death of York Regional
Constable Garrett Styles may not have intentionally tried to kill
him, (it is alleged that) Constable Styles died as a direct result of
the youth’s attempt to get away from a police officer in the lawful
execution of his duties.

I’ll sum things up by saying that the vast majority of police, peace officers & emergency services workers who attend police funerals are doing it on their own time and at their
own expense.  If construction workers or any other profession wants to
arrange a public funeral for one of their fallen members, they are free
to do so.  I’m sure the media would be more than happy to cover the
funeral, especially if there are over 10,000 construction workers lining
a major street in Toronto.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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