Durham Police head to Toronto to honour fallen officers
Published May 3, 2022 at 11:57 am
Durham Regional Police led a contingent to Toronto’s Ontario Police Memorial Sunday to honour officers who gave their lives in the line of duty alongside more than a thousand brothers and sisters in blue.
May 1 marked the first in-person ceremony in since 2019 and the 23rd annual Ceremony of Remembrance, organized by the Police Memorial Foundation.
Officers from across Canada, Europe and the United States converged on Queen’s Park Cr in the shadow of a memorial wall adorned with with the names of 272 fallen officers.
Six new names were added to the wall this year, with Premier Doug Ford commenting at the ceremony, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we must call out six more names this day, six more heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of keeping the people of this province safe from harm.”
Constable Jeffrey Northrup was one of the officers honored. He served the Toronto Police Service for 31 years until his death in 2021. Northrup began his law enforcement career as a court officer. In 1999 he was assigned 11 Division and then moved to 53 Division in 2008.
On July 2 2021, Northrup and his partner responded to an underground parking lot on Queen St. W in downtown Toronto on a priority call regarding a robbery and stabbing. He was struck by a car in the parking lot and later succumbed to his injuries in hospital at age 55. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Provincial Constable Marc Hovingh of the OPP’s Manitoulin Detachment was also honored on Sunday. He served as an OPP officer for 28 years.
Hovingh and his partner responded to a trespassing call outside the small town of Gore Bay on November 19, 2020. There they discovered a man had cleared a wooded area and parked a trailer. The pair turned to leave after getting an assurance for the man he would leave.
However, Hovingh and his partner discovered a plot of illegal cannabis being grown. The pair returned to arrest the man, who open fire with a shotgun striking Hovingh twice. Though mortally wounded Hovingh returned fire, killing the man. Hovingh succumbed to his injuries in hospital at age 52. He survived by his wife and four children.
“Hovingh’s selfless acts of bravery, courage and ultimate sacrifice not only saved the lives of his partner and the nearby civilian witnesses, but potentially saved the lives of the many other responding officers due to the further weapons and explosives caches later located in the trailer and around the property,” reads the OPMF honor roll.
Constable Joan Theresa VanBreda of Niagara Regional Police is another fallen officer whose name now graces the the memorial. Early in VanBreda’s career, at age 22, she and her partner responded to a two-vehicle collision on September 24, 1986.
While crossing the street on foot VanBreda was struck by a drunk driver. She was thrown 15 metres into the trunk of her cruiser suffering critical life-threatening injuries.
“Her path to recovery was filled with both achievements and tribulations,” per OPMF. She went on to lead a 35-year career. However the collision caught up to her and she succumbed to ongoing medical issues stemming from the crash on May 22, 2020 at age 55.
Three other historical officers were added to the memorial as well, following research by the Ontario Police Memorial Historian
Most recently, Constable John Teevens with Guelph Police died in 1945. Teevens, also known as”Tail Light,” joined the Guleph Police Department in 1921.
On December 9, 1939 he was directing traffic while standing on a traffic island on Upper Wyndham St in Guelph when he was hit by a drunk driver. Teevens survived the initial collision, but like VanBreda his injuries eventually caught up to him. He died on January 27, 1945 as a result at age 52.
The the Ontario Police Memorial stretches back to honour officers from beyond the last century as well. Firstly, Constable John Hickey with the Brantford Police Service, who died in 1897. Hickey was riding a trolly car acting as an officer on July 18, 1895 when the car derailed.
Hickey was “dashed violently to the ground” when the streetcar hit a pole. He suffered severe injuries to his knee and wrist and was off-duty for several weeks.
He tried to return to work months later, but his injuries were “of a permanent nature” and he was forced back on leave. Two years later, during which Hickey displayed “sheer pluck and indomitable will,” he died as a result of his injuries at age 40. He was survived by his wife and four children
The final officer added to the memorial is Constable Alexander Wright with the Brockville Police Service. Wright was called to a Bartholomew St store on September 19, 1895 after the owner, James Curran, reported a $500 theft. Wright and Curran made there way to a barn in the town’s northeast corner, a known vagrant haunt.
Three men bolt from the barn when they spotted Wright, who chased them down on foot. Curran followed along well behind and eventually came across Wright slumped over a fence dead. A later coroner’s report found he suffered a heart attack.
In honour of these officers’ sacrifices police from across the world convened in Toronto. Durham Regional Police came along as well, represented by Chief Todd Rollauer, Deputy Chief Joe Maiorano, the DRPS Drum and Pipes Band and 50 fellow officers.
“These officers are heroes in life, not death,” reads the memorial motto.
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