Letter from ‘a police officer in the suburbs’

This story ran in one of our papers today, and, being a police blogger, I’ve been asked repeatedly if this officer was me.  No, it was not.

I suspect this officer is from a jurisdiction other than Vancouver, and to him or her – thank you for supporting our city, our emergency services brothers and sisters and the citizens who rallied together as a community.

Kudos to everyone.

And to the officer – if you are ever in Vancouver, get a hold of me on the radio.  My call sign is Kilo-84.  I’d love to buy you a coffee.

For what it’s worth, here is the blog post from an anonymous police officer about what happened after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, originally posted on Letters from the Front Lines: Vancouver Riot :

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Dear 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Rioters,

Please stop saying you’re sorry. Stop posting YouTube videos begging for forgiveness. Stop writing letters asking that society cut you some slack and leave you alone.

While you were drunk and flipping cars, I was driving with all of my emergency equipment on to get into Vancouver. While you were throwing anything you could get your hands on at the police, I was pressure testing my APR and standing in the middle of the tear gas. While you and thousands of others disgraced Vancouver and its surrounding population, I stood shoulder to shoulder with a couple hundred men and women, whom I trust my life with, ready to address your indiscretions.

You came up to me like you owned the streets in your drunken stupor, thrust your middle fingers in my face and shouted obscenities; I didn’t snap you in half.

Actions speak louder than words.

You started “harmless” fires. You torched other men and women’s cars whom you’d never met and never did you wrong. You assaulted firemen as they arrived to try and deal with your “mistakes”. You took limited, valuable emergency resources away from good people who needed them. You endangered more lives by tying up emergency services than you ever considered.

You started fights. You stabbed people you’d never met because they somehow made you angry. You gave men and women trying to protect property life altering concussions. You brought paramedics into the tear gas and exhausted them trying to save people they’d never met.

You showed up to hospital emergency rooms crying because you’d been exposed to tear gas. You got obnoxious and demanded to be treated like you were somehow dying. You knew it was a riot, you chose not to leave, you chose to stick around and breathe the tear gas in. You took nurses and doctors away from people who needed their care to live. People they’d never met but work tirelessly to save. You demanded to be treated as if you were better than the rest of society.

You’d tell me that the emergency services personnel I speak of are paid to do this job and chose to be there. You’re right. We give a damn about people we’ve never met and property that isn’t ours, that’s why we do what we do. You disgust us.

What brought a tear to my eye, after the gas had cleared, was standing in the middle of an intersection at about 3 a.m. the only people I’d seen for the last 30 minutes were other police officers, until a shop keeper brought us a case of water. Then I saw a random person with a broom clearing the sidewalk. I had a duty to respond, the citizens of Vancouver immediately afterward could have just left it up to those paid to deal with it. They didn’t just stand by, they came out in force and cleaned up after your indiscretions. Everyone I saw that early morning thanked me, I was only doing my job. I have the utmost respect for all of the people from Vancouver and the surrounding areas that came downtown and volunteered to clean up after you.

You owe Vancouver and the surrounding population more than mere words. Don’t you dare ask for our forgiveness without taking responsibility. You can’t fix life altering injuries with an “I’m Sorry”. You can’t repay someone’s car loan with a YouTube video. You ask that people leave you and your family alone but you offer no way to replace priceless losses.

You’ll sleep soundly in your bed tonight because men and women like me will always be there to deal with your poor choices. You have no idea how fortunate you are, even after we arrest and charge you. Even though you disgust me, if you call for me in the middle of the night I’ll respond. I’ll protect your life and property because it’s right and it’s what I do.

The evening of June 15, 2011 fellow emergency services personnel, my brothers and sisters, left our families at home and while grossly out numbered stood to fight. The morning of June 16, 2011 the true heroes emerged to volunteer their time and restored my faith in humanity.

Actions speak louder than words. What are you going to do about that?

— a police officer from the suburbs, who was called in to serve and protect on that night; a proud Vancouverite.

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And while you’re reading the officer’s perspective, take a look at a letter written by a nurse working in the Emergency Room of one of Vancouver’s main hospitals.  The language may be offensive to some, so if that may be you, do not click the link. But to me, it’s obvious the nurse wrote this letter with all the emotion of that night.  It’s the honest opinion of a front line worker who needs to be heard.

You can read it here – “An ER nurse’s thoughts on an instigator’s ‘apology’ “

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