The terribly sad funeral service for fallen officer Sgt. Ryan Russell held this past Tuesday in Toronto is proof positive people do care.
Torontonians, family and friends joined at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to pay respects to a young, accomplished man that distinguished himself as an officer, husband and father. Officers from each end of the country, as well as our good neighbours to the south, showed up to support the service and more specifically his widowed wife and 2-year-old son.
Many of the officers interviewed from elsewhere noted that every day, wherever they come from, an officer risks being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Joining with the family and the police service is a way to show solidarity and support. It’s a tragedy, a crying shame.
We continue to be taken aback at the strength and poise of people suffering under such a circumstance. That a wife would have to read a eulogy is tough enough, but in front of thousands of people under the strain that comes from a very public event is especially difficult. She did it with a sense of grace and respect that few could pull off. It’s courage beyond words.
The empathy most of us feel for men and women in uniform is often too short-lived.
In fact, the stupidity of this tragic event parallels other senseless acts of violence. The tragedy in Tuscon, Arizona provides another example of mental illness gone awry, where innocents going about their business were gunned down by an individual in tough shape.
While we have every respect for people down on their luck or troubled and fighting hard to understand their personal demons, a better strategy is needed for mental health patients at risk of harming themselves or others.
Police and emergency service providers are often placed in a very uncomfortable position, a very dangerous position and regrettably, a potentially deadly position.
Such was the case for Sgt. Ryan Russell.
Somehow, some way, mental health experts need to find a way to reach out and get to troubled people before it’s too late. We are acutely aware of the many pitfalls associated with designating mental health patients, even the potential for infringing on their rights.
We figure Russell’s son had the right to know his dad past the age of two.
This didn’t need to happen and it’s important that we care enough to support a call for mental health reform.