In life, D/Const. Jeffrey Northrup was a devoted husband, doting father, selfless friend, kind-hearted colleague and courageous police officer who unfailingly upheld the oath to serve and protect his community until the end of his watch.
The veteran officer was killed in the line of duty on July 2.
He was 55.
Northrup and his partner were responding to a 9-1-1 call for a robbery in progress when a vehicle struck them in Toronto City Hall’s underground parking garage.
He succumbed to his injuries.
At an emotional and solemn funeral service at BMO Field on July 12, Northrup’s stellar qualities and accomplishments were remembered and celebrated.
“He was always proud to wear and serve the uniform and badge,” said his widow, Margaret Northrup. “He absolutely loved his work, ridiculously so, and the people he worked with. Every day, he would unwind telling me a funny story, a good arrest or tickets he issued. He would not elaborate on the stressful or bad events, but I knew just sitting there quietly would help calm his soul.”
She said her husband was excited to get off the desk recently and return to coaching young officers.
“He loved mentoring officers and wanted to instill his love for the job on them as they are our future in this world,” she said. “I ask that you continue to thrive and support each other with the more senior officers mentoring the younger ones. Be proud of your profession. Keep your communities whole and safe. This little task would honour Jeff’s memory.”
They met 28 years ago while she was a Corrections Canada nurse and he was a Court officer.
“You were my knight, my strength, my confidante and my best friend,” she said. “We were so in sync with each other. I am lost without you. However, I will remain strong with you still in my heart and by my side. I promise to love and protect our beautiful children fiercely with all my being. Goodbye my love.”
Toronto Police Service (TPS) Chief James Ramer reminded mourners that taking an oath to serve and protect our communities is among the highest callings of public service.
“But putting the safety of others above our own can come at a terrible cost,” he said. “This is something we accept, but never expect. It doesn’t stop us from doing the job we love. And, as we know, Jeff loved his job and he did it with diligence and dedication.”
Ramer noted that Northrup’s sudden death has severely impacted many people.
“It is an unsettling and heavy weight on our hearts,” he noted. “But the sadness and tragedy of this senseless loss is not what I want to focus on today. I want to focus on Jeff, a man who dedicated his life to the things that matter most – his community and his family…After over 31 years, he remained an exemplary police officer at a time when being a police officer has never been harder, when the work we do, mostly for people we will never know, is sometimes viewed with distrust and when the fault lines between us and the communities we serve seem so difficult to bridge.
“At times, when our confidence waver, we must think about Jeff. We must think about his unshakeable commitment to this city and to his family, the relationships he built and nurtured with his colleagues and his community and the incredible outpouring of grief, support and love we have felt over the past week from all corners of this city and from across the country and North America. Let that provide us with some comfort to know that maybe we are not as divided as we may seem and that the hard work that Jeff did, and that we all do to keep our fellow citizens safe, doesn’t go unnoticed. So though we may grieve, we should not despair…Although we can’t match Jeff’s sacrifice, we can try to match his sense of service.”
Supt. Greg Cole was Northrup’s Unit Commander at 52 Division.
“In the early hours of July 2, the members of 52 Division were forced to face certain truths,” he said. “One of these was impossible to accept. D/Const. Jeffrey Northrup, Jeff or Jeffie as we knew him, was gone. As we tried to wrap our hearts and heads around this, we were quickly reminded of other truths, namely the strength and loyalty, the pledge to serve and protect and the loving support from every corner of this Service.”
Northrup’s passion for the criminal justice system and his love for skilfully driving court wagons through Toronto streets, were ignited when he joined Court Services.
“He was proud to wear the uniform and fondly remembered his time in Courts as it served as a bedrock for his future in policing,” said Cole. “…His outgoing and jovial nature, incredible, determined and focussed work ethic and fairness to everyone he met, even those he arrested, earned him the admiration and respect of his colleagues, superiors and the community as a whole. Jeff’s protective nature extended to all those around him. Many platoon mates during those early years remember him backing them up on calls and volunteering to help in any way he could.”
As a uniformed officer, Cole said Northrup was tireless, energetic and enthusiastic.
“Scores of young officers, many of whom are sitting here today, proudly called him ‘Coach’ during their time as trainees,” the senior officer added. “Jeff taught them to police the way he knew which was fairly, impartially, positively, proudly representing the uniform with every call for service. Letters of appreciation from grateful citizens fill his personal file with words of praise for the care and compassion he showed when called to someone’s worst day.”
In his tribute, Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) Chair Jim Hart said Northrup gave his life doing what he truly and sincerely loved doing which is serving and protecting his community.
“As we all keenly know, a police officer takes an oath to serve and protect the members of their community diligently with dedication and despite the considerable risks inherent in a profession founded on ensuring the safety of the public,” he noted.
“An officer who gives their life in the line of duty protecting their community with selfless bravery and incomparable commitment, as Const. Northrup has done, has undoubtedly made the ultimate sacrifice. We thank him deeply and profoundly for making the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be safe. He will always hold a special and sacred space in our collective minds and hearts…He will be remembered as the very epitome of a true hero.”
Mayor John Tory, who is a member of the TPSB, expressed condolences to the family and thanked Northrup for being a good person, family man and police officer.
“You were a peacemaker and a peace officer,” he said. “You are why it is said that blessed are the peacemakers and they shall be the children of God. May your life of service be blessed and may you rest in peace knowing that your colleagues and all of the people you served with such caring and distinction are eternally grateful for your humanity and your service.”
Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford said Northrup was one of the best among us.
“His impact will be felt in communities he served and the lives he touched,” said Ford. “His bravery and dedication will be remembered.”
In addition to the speeches, there were several musical tributes.
The TPS Pipe Band performed ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Flowers of the Forest’, Steve Cooper – a Station Duty Operator at 42 Division – sang the national anthem and ‘O Love That Will Not Let Me Go’ and former police officer Melissa Elaschuk performed ‘See You Again’.
S/Sgt. Jeff Alderdice did a reading from the St. John’s Gospel, Const. Anthony Lamanna recited Psalm 23 while Supt. Peter Code was the Master of Ceremonies.
D/Const. Lisa Forbes, who joined the Service 15 years ago and was Northrup’s partner on the night he was killed, carried his forage cap while Const. Nad Goebell, a close colleague, was the Medal Bearer.
He was the recipient of the Police Exemplary Service Medal.
Starting his TPS career with Court Services in 1989, Northrup became a uniformed officer a decade later and was assigned to 11 Division.
Sergeant Jimmy Browne was at the Division when Northrup became a uniformed officer 22 years ago after serving as a Court Officer for a decade.
“We called him ‘Big Country’ (the nickname for basketball player Bryant Reeves) back then because of his build and size like the basketball player, but I couldn’t get over how gentle he was,” he said. “His attitude was always positive and he volunteered for everything. The job never changed him. He was the same all the way through.”
Sunday morning breakfast at 52 Division was a tradition with Northrup at the helm as chef.
“Just to be able to sit down and break bread with fellow officers was a unique opportunity to really learn who people are,” said Browne. “Jeff created such a warm environment, giving us a little bit of normalcy. He also did barbecues and all of this was done to promote camaraderie. If Jeff was cooking at six in the morning, he came in three hours earlier. The day before, he would do all the shopping after work. He also made a sweet and salt brownie with chocolate and butterscotch chips that we all loved. This was a major production that brought us together.”
Toronto Police Association President Jon Reid was also at 11 Division when Northrup became a uniformed officer.
He shared a conversation he had with Northrup’s widow while attending the family home last week to offer condolences.
“I was taken back by the strength she displayed while managing unspeakable grief, her world forever changed,” said Reid. “She communicated to me her desire that Jeff’s death not be in vain. Out of this strategy, she wanted people to know how difficult policing can be, the toll it can take, the hard work required and how unfair it sometimes can be. She wanted people to know that this life of service goes well beyond the hours spent at work.”
A member of the Chief’s Ceremonial Unit, Northrup spent the last 13 years at 52 Division.
Former Chiefs Mark Saunders, Bill Blair and Julian Fantino attended the funeral.
Northrup is the 42nd Toronto police officer to have died in the line of duty and the first since Const. John Zivcic, of 22 Division, succumbed to his injuries in December 2013 after he was involved in a collision on Bloor St. W. near the West Mall while responding to an emergency call.
A security officer with the Ontario Jockey Club before joining TPS, Northrup is also survived by his children Brennen, Samantha and Mitchell, mother Dianne and sister Denise.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to Brampton Special Olympics or a charity of their choice.
Northrup, whose daughter is a Special Olympics athlete, was a Special Olympics and lacrosse coach and a Scouts Canada leader.
He was also affiliated with the 2nd Bramalea Scouting Group for 11 years.