Hundreds of Service members lined the path leading to the Ontario Police Memorial to remember the officers who were targeted for the uniform they wore.
Officers stood at attention as the names of the officers killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge were read by Toronto Police Association Director of Field Services Mike Abbott, noting their lives of service and the families they left behind, before a moment of reflection.
Dallas Police Department Officers Senior Corporal Lorne Ahrens, Sergeant Michael Smith, Officer Michael Krol, Officer Patricio Zamarripa and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Deputy Sheriff Brad Garafola, Baton Rouge Police Department Officer Matthew Gerald and Corporal Montrell Jackson.
“Their sacrifice must be honoured, respected and cherished,” Abbott said. “Today, we gather as one, united by the badges we wear to honour the senseless killing and tragic loss of eight of our brother officers in the United States.”
Chief Mark Saunders said Toronto officers need to continue their essential work in the same vein as those fallen officers.
“I want you to follow your training, follow that moral compass every day and, if you continue to do that and continue to do the right things for the right reasons, I want you to know, as supervisors, we will stand united behind you. We will stand behind you,” Chief Saunders said.
“I need you. The city of Toronto needs you. When people call 9-1-1 because they are going through the darkest moments of their lives, they need you to be that light to guide them out of the darkness. And you will. It’s in your DNA to selflessly serve and protect those in need. That is why you chose this profession, that is why you chose this calling, that is why this city is the safest urban city in North America.
Chief Saunders said he was asked by an officer’s wife at a recent community meeting to keep her husband safe.
“It’s important to know that, every time a decision is made, your safety comes first,” said Saunders, of ensuring officers return home to their families at the end of the day.
“Thank you so much for being here today to show your support to those Heroes in Life in Dallas, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana and anywhere else where the ultimate sacrifice is made by those who choose this calling as their profession. Let us never forget why we’re here. Let us always stand united.”
Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said these troubled times require reflection.
“As we mourn the deaths of officers from Dallas and Baton Rouge, I’m reminded of the words that are etched on the wall behind me: Heroes in Life, Not Death. We joined policing to serve and protect our communities, a calling borne of dedication and commitment, not from hatred. We took a sworn oath to fight for justice, protect the weak, protect the vulnerable, so that their lives are safer and that everyone in our city has a chance to succeed and be who they want to be,” McCormack said. “That is what we do and that is who we are.”
McCormack said the policing family is damaged and troubled by the killings.
“We will not allow hatred and separation to trump commitment and community.”
Mayor John Tory said the tragic loss of officers is beyond comprehension but also a reminder to bring people together.
“It is my privilege to lead a proudly diverse city. But we still struggle here. There are people still struggling here and we still struggle with issues of equity, diversity and trust. We must all work together to address these issues. We must not let this community be divided. We must use tragedies like this to rededicate ourselves to making sure that Toronto is the beacon of hope to the world that it has been and must continue to be,” Mayor Tory said. “The rest of the world admires how we’ve chosen to live together here. And that includes people respecting police and police respecting people. We may not be perfect, but we have a foundation to build on here so that we can continue to be that beacon of hope for people that live here and people around the world.”
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon, Conservative Opposition Leader Patrick Brown and New Democratic Party Oshawa MPP Jennifer French also spoke at the vigil.