Remembering Sacrifice After 10 Years

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 2:05 p.m. January 12, 2021
Updated: 3:51 p.m. January 12, 2021

Though it has been a decade since Sgt. Ryan Russell’s untimely death in the line of duty, his legacy lives on.

A piper, officers on horseback and two officers saluting
A piper plays Amazing Grace outside of 52 Division with an honour guard

To mark the 10th anniversary of his passing on January 12, Chief James Ramer and other senior officers celebrated the fallen officer’s life at 52 Division.

The memorial was limited to just a few officers because of COVID-19 restrictions as more than 100 more watched on via video conference.

Russell succumbed to his injuries in 2011 after being struck by a man driving a stolen snowplow earlier in the day.

“Ryan was a good man and a good police officer and he was well respected,” said Ramer. “It is very important at these times that we remember the importance of the work we do each and every day. Ryan lived it. He had a genuine and sincere commitment to policing.”

S/Supt. Hugh Ferguson was Russell’s S/Sgt. at 54 Division when the young officer joined the Service 22 years ago.

“There are days you just don’t forget and this is one,” said the veteran cop who joined the Service 40 years ago. “It’s one of the saddest days of my career and yet one of the proudest as I got to lead my unit during the funeral procession.”

Supt. Hugh Ferguson speaks after the memorial ceremony in memory of Ryan Russell

Ferguson said he was honoured when Russell’s family asked him to speak at the funeral.

“His personality and his smile were infectious and it was obvious that the policing DNA was in him,” he said. “He was a chip off the old block just like his dad (Glenn) who I had the honour of working with in my early days at 55 Division.”

Joining the Service in October 1999, Russell worked for nearly six years with 54 Division Primary Response and the Street Crime Unit, before joining the Gun and Gang Task Force, where he spent four years up until August 2010, when he was assigned to 52 Division.

“He really shone in the Street Crime Unit,” Ferguson recalled. “He had a great eye for detail and a photographic memory. He never forgot a face, name or tattoo. He knew all of the bandits in the Division and they knew him. He was an artist when it came to talking to people on the street and he gained information and intelligence from sources that had been considered way too difficult if not impossible to crack.”

Ontario Police Memorial Foundation President Jason Tomlinson said Russell served the city with pride and distinction and was beloved by his peers.

“Today, we thank Ryan not only for his Service, but for his sacrifice,” he said.

A candle, photo, drawing on a table
A small memorial to Ryan Russell in the front lobby of 52 Division
TPS crest watermark