266 fallen police officers honoured at 20th annual Ontario police memorial ceremony

WATCH ABOVE: The 20th annual Ceremony of Remembrance for fallen police officers was held in front of Queen’s Park. All 266 names of Ontario’s finest who fell in the line of duty were read out.

More than two-hundred police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty were remembered at the 20th annual Ontario Police Memorial Foundation’s Ceremony of Remembrance in Toronto on Sunday.

The names of fallen officers were read aloud by two recruits representing the latest graduating class from the Ontario Police College at Queen’s Park Circle.

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The Police Pipe Bands led officers from across Ontario, the U.S., and Europe in a march along Queen’s Park Crescent. They arrived to the steps of the legislature just before 11 a.m. for the official start of the ceremony.

Premier Doug Ford was in attendance to deliver remarks about the heroic efforts of fallen officers at the ceremony.

“I have the greatest respect for Ontario’s finest,” he said.

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“And I am heartbroken for the lives lost while protecting our communities and working to keep Ontario safe. My deepest personal condolences to all of you — the families, friends, and colleagues of the fallen.”

Ford promises in his speech that the government will always stand by the men and woman who put their lives at risk every day to protect the people of Ontario.

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“We owe a debt to these officers that we can never repay. But we vow to do everything we can to support their colleagues and friends who continue on, every day. Your continued service is truly a tribute to the fallen.”

Families and friends of the fallen, police officers, dignitaries and members of the public were in attendance.

Steve Binch, a retired officer who served 32 years on the force in Hamilton, said he used to march in the ceremony every year and that it helps to remember those who’ve fallen.

“Physically I can’t march,” he said emotionally. “But I’m still here to show my respects.”

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For the officers who are still in the force, like Colin Shaw who’s a staff sergeant with Durham police, he said the event allows people to recognize the fallen and their families and show support to them throughout their lives, not just when an officer passes away.

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READ MORE: At least 865 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty in Canada

Shaw also mentioned it’s important to have new officers attend the ceremony as well.

“We like to bring as many of our newer officers as we can to get them understanding that the thin blue line of policing is important, and that we continue to support our families even after they leave this job one way or the other.”

Many members of the public also came out to show their respects, like Amy Fernandes does every year.

“As a citizen, they put their lives on the line every day for us, and this is way to pay our respects one day a year,” she said.

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It’s been five years since a police officer had died during the line of duty.

— With files from Matthew Bingley and Chris Dunseith

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