‘Just unimaginable’: How the death of an officer affects the police community
Police across B.C. were reeling on Monday after an officer was killed in the line of duty in Abbotsford.
“The damage and the hurt that this person, whoever the suspect is, has caused to the family — the officer’s family and the police family across Canada — is just unimaginable,” said former Delta police chief Jim Cessford.
It’s a pain that Cessford, who oversaw the scene of another officer’s killing decades ago, knows personally.
He joined CKNW’s Steele & Drex on Monday to talk about the impact of such an incident on the tight-knit law enforcement community.
LISTEN: How the death of an officer affects a police force
It was 1990 when Cessford, then with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), was called to be incident commander at the scene of a botched bank robbery — one that saw Cst. Ezio Faraone shot and killed.
He said the officer’s death was doubly traumatic for EPS members on the scene, many of whom still had to carry out their investigative duties.
“We had police officers that were blocking off points and doing parts of investigations that were in tears. And I was so concerned about their ability to be able to function and to carry on, given the fact that they were grieving so bad,” Cessford said.
“Ezio was laying on the road and he was covered with a blanket, and we had to do a crime scene investigation.”
That’s the grim position Abbotsford Police Department (APD) officers now find themselves in as they look to process the death of a friend while handling the investigation into his killing, Cessford said.
“There’s so many things happening now within the Abbotsford Police Department, and everything just seems to happen so quick now for them,” he said.
“They’ll be very, very busy and it will be just a horrible time for the members in that police department. These police departments are very tight-knit groups, and this will really, really take its toll on members.”
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Messages of support and offers of aid are likely pouring in from police departments across B.C. and Canada right now, including offers of assistance to take stress off the officers and staff, Cessford said.
“I would expect that probably one of those departments will come in and take over some of the policing duties while the Abbotsford members try and deal with this terrible tragedy,” he said.
Resources are also being activated to help the slain officer’s family and colleagues process what happened.
LISTEN: How will the police community react to the death of an officer in Abbotsford?
“We have police chaplains and we have force psychologists. We make sure the family is looked after immediately, we send a team over to deal with them and we use every resource available to us to help the family try to cope with the trauma,” Cessford said.
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Fortunately, the death of officers on duty is relatively uncommon in Canada, Cessford said.
Since 1859, 120 officers have died on the job in B.C., according to the B.C. Law Enforcement Memorial. Monday’s tragedy in Abbosford marks the first such death in 2017.
The last recorded death in the province was RCMP Cst. Sarah Beckett, a mother of two who died in 2016 when a pickup truck collided with her police cruiser in the Victoria area.
The officer killed in Abbotsford on Monday has not been identified.
-With files from Estefania Duran
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