Toronto Police members took part in a tribute to fallen officers in a scaled-down event due to the pandemic.
Normally, officers from across Ontario yearly for the Ride to Remember to Ottawa to pay tribute to provincial members who died in the line of duty at the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial ceremony the last weekend in September. There are about 170 riders that are accompanied by a support team for the ride on any given year.
Though the event was cancelled this year because of COVID-19, Toronto officers participated in a shorter ride on September 20.
A team of 17 Toronto officers rode from Marie Curtis Park in Etobicoke to 43 Division in Scarborough, a distance of about 45 kilometres.
Insp. Justin Vander Heyden has done the ride from Toronto to Ottawa the last three years.
“It was a bit of a reunion of the team as some of us only see each other at this time of the year,” he said. “There is some bonding that went on there and there was an incredible sense of purpose. We normally wear armbands with the names of all the fallen Toronto Police officers on our way to Parliament Hill on the last day of the big ride. On Sunday, we put them on for the entire ride. The sense of honour and duty to fallen officers was probably the most underlying emotion.”
D/Sgt. Don Theriault was this year’s team captain.
“It was important for us to do something,” the 13 Division officer said. “The fallen officers made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives and there are spouses who are still suffering in silence.”
At the Ontario Police Memorial, the riders stopped to observe a moment of silence and present a cheque for $500 from the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association to Badge of Life Canada that works with peace officers who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“The ride was a great morale booster, it shows the initiative of our officers,” said Deputy Chief Shawna Coxon.
The Canadian Police and Peace Officer Memorial ceremony will be held on Sunday, September 27 at 11 a.m.