Farewell To A Hero: RIP Sgt Ryan Russell

18 Jan

Today, in a departure from my usual selection of topics, I want to talk about the police.  Depending on who you are talking to, this can be a surprisingly heated topic.  People go on about police brutality, racial profiling, and all of that kind of bad stuff.  I am not denying that it happens.  Some police officers are total asshats (I saw that word in another blog and liked it, and I’ve been itching to use it in a sentence ever since).  There are the bad cops who will discriminate, abuse, and power-trip from here to the moon.

But for the most part, police officers are the good guys.  The cop who responded when George accidentally called 911 at the age of eleven months was very understanding.  He allowed us to take a picture of himself with George, and with the two firefighters who also came.  We didn’t get hit with a fine, our child was not incarcerated, and everyone went home happy.

Then there was the policeman named Larry who took time for James, who was two at the time and had squealed excitedly upon seeing a real police car.  Larry showed James the car and chatted with him, and by the end of it James was wide-eyed with the wonder of talking to a “real policecar man”.  It may have only been five minutes of Larry’s time, but I will never forget how his kindness made my child happy.

And today, as the city mourns, Toronto’s Finest are burying one of their own, Sgt. Ryan Russell, killed in the line of duty last week.

In a sequence of events that seems so pointless, a man stole a snowplow and for two hours he used it to go on a terrifying rampage through city streets.  He crashed into parked cars, drove into a storefront, and rammed into a taxi occupied by its driver.  As Sgt. Russell tried to intervene, the snowplow was driven right into him and crushed him.  He was taken to hospital, where he died of his injuries.

One police officer taken from us while trying to serve and protect.

One woman thrust into widowhood far too young.

One two-year-old child who will grow up without his father.

An entire city grieving for the first Toronto police officer killed in the line of duty since 2002.

As I write this article, the funeral has just started.  More than 10,000 people are there – friends and family members of the man being honoured, members of the public, police officers from all across North America.  The show of respect is phenomenal.  And that’s the way it should be.  Police officers are heroes.  They deserve recognition and appreciation while they are alive, and they deserve a damned good send-off when they die.

R.I.P. Sgt Russell.  You are a hero and I am shedding a tear for you.


4 Responses to “Farewell To A Hero: RIP Sgt Ryan Russell”

  1. Shairbearg January 18, 2011 at 1:34 PM #

    A real tribute. I am with you. Just the day before this accident, he was instrumental in stopping a serious incident from taking place. The next day, jumped right back into the fray! I have 3 boys, the middle one is 2, and I couldn’t imagine him losing his father now. It is heart-breaking, and his wife losing her husband and having to try to explain to the 2 yo daddy isn’t coming home. Or explaining a funeral for Daddy. So hard.

    • runningforautism January 18, 2011 at 2:43 PM #

      You are so right. I think the families of police officers deserve a very special kind of respect as well. One thing is for sure: that little boy is going to grow up knowing that his Daddy was a hero.
      Thank you for reading.

  2. mooney=mc2 January 18, 2011 at 2:24 PM #

    *sigh* so much sadness in this world. RIP Sgt. You did good.

    • runningforautism January 18, 2011 at 2:46 PM #

      When I look at the tragedy that other people have to endure, I am reminded not to get uptight about silly things that don’t matter. It is so true… so much sadness in the world.

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