A park named after an Edmonton police officer killed in the line of duty was dedicated on the one-year anniversary of his tragic death.
Family, colleagues and civilians came out for Wednesday’s ceremony, which recognized Const. Daniel Woodall’s service and sacrifice. He was 35 years old and had served with the Edmonton police for eight years.
Mayor Don Iveson and Police Chief Rod Knecht were on hand for the public ceremony at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
“Const. Dan Woodall Park will provide a place where all Edmontonians – the citizens Dan gave his life to protect – can come to enjoy time with their families and friends,” Knecht said.
“It is a fitting legacy for a man who was as passionately committed to his family as he was to his distinguished, but far too brief, career with the Edmonton Police Service.”
Woodall’s wife and sons, along with his parents from the U.K., were also in attendance.
“Thank you, everybody, from the bottom of my heart,” Claire Woodall said after the ceremony in the park. “The city has never ever forgotten about what has happened and I can tell they never will.
“I cannot express it enough how grateful we are, how supported we feel and how loved we feel.”
Knecht presented Woodall’s parents and two sons with memorial EPS badges.
“For me, although it reminds me of my darkest day in the Edmonton Police Service, this is also a day to celebrate,” the police chief said. “The city has gotten behind us and honoured Dan Woodall’s memory with a park – and his family whit a park – it’s extraordinary.
“I think it speaks to the community and Edmontonians as they support their police service as they did a year ago. That was overwhelming at the time,” Knecht said, “and it continues to be an overwhelming display of support.”
Last year, the City of Edmonton decided to name a park in south Edmonton’s Terwillegar area after Woodall. The park, located at 7304 South Terwillegar Drive, will eventually have a soccer field – a tribute to Woodall’s love of the game, baseball diamond and a children’s playground.
The park also features an Autumn Blaze Maple Tree planted with compost created from the flowers given to police after Woodall’s death.
“The city is humbled to be able to dedicate this park to a man that gave his life to protect his fellow citizens,” Iveson said. “For generations to come, Edmontonians will enjoy this park and remember the bravery, the commitment and the sacrifice of Const. Woodall.”
The park is in the same area where Woodall lived with his 33-year-old wife, Claire, and their two sons, Gabe, 7, and Callen, 5.
Iveson said June 8 is a difficult day.
“It still stings. It’s still upsetting. My kids are the same age as Callen and Gabe. So it still hits home seeing them. But it’s also great seeing them doing so well,” the mayor said.
“Claire is so strong and I think we can all draw inspiration from that.”
Last year, Iveson made a promise to the Woodall family that the city would never forget Daniel’s sacrifice, nor his family.
“The promise is to Claire and the kids that the city will continue to look after them…but also so that Edmontonians don’t forget.”
Claire said her kids have seen the park plaque bearing their dad’s name, and look forward to playing in the park.
“They’re like, ‘What? In dad’s name? Just for Dad? Does that mean it’s ours’?'” Woodall said with a laugh. “And I went, ‘No, it’s not yours, everyone can enjoy it.'”
The plaque bears a brief description of how Woodall was killed. It also reads:
“Cst. Woodall was a husband, father, son and a proud member of the Edmonton Police Service and policing profession. His memory will be with us forever.”
Woodall joined the Edmonton force in 2007 after starting his policing career with the Greater Manchester Police in England.
He was shot June 8, 2015 in west Edmonton while trying to serve an arrest warrant on Norman Raddatz.
When officers showed up at Raddatz’s home, bullets started flying through the front door. Woodall, 35, was killed and Sgt. Jason Harley, a 38-year-old southwest division patrol member, was shot in the lower back.
Soon after, the house went up in flames. Police later found Raddatz’s body inside and said he had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
WATCH BELOW: ‘Daddy was trying to keep us safe’: Claire Woodall on how she explains her husband’s death to her boys.
His widow spoke to media on Monday, explaining that, before her husband’s death, she thought she’d move back to be with family in the U.K. if anything ever happened to him. But after thousands of people wore blue ribbons and lined the streets for his funeral, she said she realized she couldn’t leave Edmonton.
In the year since his death, the support has continued.
“I’ve had so much love,” she said.
“This city has just supported me in such a way I cannot put into words. It was clear, instantly, I don’t need to go anywhere. I’m home.”
-With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News, and Chris Purdy, The Canadian Press