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Sacrifice goes unrecognized

Published in the Toronto Sun
30 January 2008
Published in the Blue Line Magazine
February 2008
With the recent victory in the campaign to get Cobourg Police Constable Chris Garrett nominated for the Police Cross of Valour, we must not overlook another battle to honour a deserving police officer for his service to his country and community.

On 13 November 2004, RCMP Auxiliary Constable Glen Evely was killed in a motor vehicle collision when responding to a call about a drunk driver in Vernon, British Columbia. After a short high-speed chase, the suspect failed to stop for a red light and slammed into the police cruiser containing Evely. Aux. Cst. Evely was pronounced dead at the scene, leaving behind a wife and two children.

Cst. F. Grenier, who was driving the cruiser, was hospitalized with serious injuries.

Auxiliary officers, although uniformed, are are unpaid volunteers. Here was a man who wasn’t doing this job for money or other financial considerations; he was doing it to serve his community. Glen didn’t need to be on duty that night. He was on his time off from his regular job and could have been at home with his family, but he chose to serve his community and paid a heavy price for it.

Normally when a law-enforcement officer dies in the line of duty, they are honoured by the Canadian Police and Peace Officers (CP & PO) Memorial Association by including their name on the national monument on Parliament Hill. On the last Sunday in September each year, a parade and ceremony is held in Ottawa, officially dedicating the names of all officer who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Occasionally historical research uncovers other eligible peace officers from past years (usually decades old deaths) who were overlooked.

Despite losing his life in the line of duty, Aux. Cst. Evely has been denied inclusion on the national Canadian Police and Peace Officer’s Memorial wall.

The eligibility requirements listed on the CP & PO Memorial Association web site lists the following requirements: “The deceased must have been a sworn paid, full time peace officer in Canada serving as a regular member or employee of a federal, provincial, municipal law enforcement agency or service and died as a result of an external influence. For greater clarity, this criteria does not include private agencies, auxiliary personnel or other volunteers.”

This policy is a misguided and arbitrary policy imposed by the CP & PO Memorial Association. It fails to take into consideration that when on duty, all Auxiliary and Reserve Constables are considered “Sworn Peace Officers.” For instance, Section 52 (4) of the Police Service Act of Ontario specifically states: “An auxiliary member of a police force has the authority of a police officer if he or she is accompanied or supervised by a police officer and is authorized to perform police duties by the chief of police.”

For small police services, as well as rural O.P.P. and RCMP detachments, Auxiliary Constables often become an integral part of the service. One of the Auxiliary Constables with my police service, Brad Campbell, died around this time last year as a result of injuries sustained in an off-duty collision. He left behind a wife and three young children.

Brad’s death certainly had an impact on all of us. Although he wasn’t entitled to a full police funeral (an honour usually reserved for on-duty deaths), almost our entire service of 21 members attended his funeral. We also had our own memorial plaque made up, which now hangs in the lobby of our station.

Regardless of whether an Auxiliary Constable is a peace officer or not, three Auxiliary/Reserve Constables have been included on the memorial wall in the past. I fail to see why Aux. Cst. Glen Evely falls short of the sacrifices made by these officers or any of the officers listed on the memorial.

(taken directly from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police web site – http://www.cacp.ca/english/memoriam/english/default.htm ):

Auxiliary Constable Frederick A. Abel, Royal Canadian Mounted Police:

“On April 4, 1996, Aux. Cst. Abel was working at the Lethbridge detachment with Cpl. Bud Johanson when they received a call of a suspected impaired driver in a pick up truck. On their way to investigate this, their car collided with the truck which was driving on the wrong side of the road. Both officers and the passengers of the truck were killed.”

Auxiliary Constable J.E. Sam Balmer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police:

“On August 29, 1992, Cst. Hrehirchuk & Aux. Cst. Balmer responded to a complaint of domestic dispute. Three weeks earlier to this complaint a similar complaint was lodge where firearms were used. While traveling to this complaint and attempting to pass a vehicle, Cst. Hrehirchuk lost control of his vehicle and hit head-on with another northbound vehicle. Aux. Cst. Balmer was killed instantly. Cst. Hrehirchuk was trapped and injured.”

Inspector (Reserve) Arthur S. Trentham, Vancouver Police:

“On September 16, 1963, at approximately 8:05 pm, Reserve Inspector Trentham was standing in the centre of the Windermere and Hastings intersection directing traffic. He was dressed in a regulation Police uniform, wearing a reflective safety belt and carrying a red lensed flashlight. He had just turned east on Hastings Street when he was struck by an eastbound vehicle on Hastings Street. Reserve Inspector Trentham was flung into the air and came down on the left side of the hood and fender. He was carried a short distance and then rolled off the car onto the road. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The vehicle fled the scene and the driver turned himself in to police later that evening and was charged with impaired driving and hit and run.”

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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