As I began to write this week’s column, the news broke that two police officers in Fredericton had been killed in the line of duty. It is with a sense of horror that Canadians are living with acts of violence at unprecedented levels. From school shootings, mall shootings and violence on the street, we are no longer the country that watches others go through this, but rather, we are living through it ourselves.
Police officers receive so much bad publicity that it is easy to forget the danger they face every day on the job. It seems the only time they receive good publicity and public sympathy is when a police officer is killed in the line of duty. Not so long ago, Canadian police officers might serve their entire career without shooting their guns. That is no longer the case. Lack of respect for and distrust of police officers has made their career choice a dangerous one that affects not only them, but their families.
Yes, there are “bad cops”, and we certainly hear about them in the media but there are thousands of dedicated officers who risk their lives in order to keep the rest of us safe. In this case, true heroes that they were, Const. Costello and Const. Burns responded to a shooting and when they arrived, ran to help two injured people who had been shot and were laying on the ground. As they rushed to help, they themselves were shot and killed.
As one with family members who are police officers, correctional workers and conservation officers, my heart breaks for the families of Const. Robb Costello and Const. Sara Burns. They both leave behind spouses and families whose lives have been forever changed in one violent moment. Once the outpouring of sympathy from the public is over and the glare of the cameras are gone, these families will continue to live with their loss. We can go on with our lives and go back to our “normal”. They will feel the emptiness at every family gathering and every holiday.
I don’t know what the solution is to stop the killing that has terrorized our country, I just know that I wish we could go back to a time when shootings like this were not common place and that we were not attending vigils and contributing to makeshift memorials in memory of those killed.
My heart is sick from hearing about “multiple victims” at yet another shooting. It terrifies me that our children are growing up in a world where this is just something that happens and they are becoming desensitized to it.
Somehow, we have to do better.