ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) -Thousands of men and women in uniform, led by a police motorcycle squad and a pipe band, are marching in an Abbotsford procession leading to the celebration of life of Constable John Davidson.
A riderless horse, a symbol of a fallen officer, is being led along the procession, joined by a parade of blue and red uniforms of officers.
Some of the officers in the parade have come from as far away as the United Kingdom.
The 53-year-old officer began his career with the Northumbria police in the northeastern United Kingdom in 1993 and moved to Canada in 2006 to continue his career. He had worked in the Abbotsford department for 11 years.
BC Place, Vancouver City Hall, and the Science World are some of the buildings that turned Metro Vancouver blue overnight to honour him.
Meanwhile, every member of the APD — including officers and civilians — is getting the day off work to be able to attend this afternoon’s memorial.
“We are ensuring that every member who works here… is able to go to the service,” explains Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich.
He says the city is getting a little help from police in neighbouring communities, like officers from Vancouver, who are patrolling the city for the day.
“Some of us just won’t be in any shape to go back at out and protect the public, so we have had incredible support from other police agencies.”
Cst. Davidson was shot and killed in the line of duty on November 6th. Rich says on that day, 100 police officers from outside of Abbotsford responded to the city to help out.
“I’ve never lived through this, as a Chief,” Rich tells NEWS 1130. “I’ve never had an officer murdered like this under my watch, and so the response from the community to something so dark and evil has just been incredible. People want to rise up and they just want to do something.”
According to Sergeant Judy Bird, the department has been working closely with Cst. Davidson’s family to pay tribute to his legacy and plan today’s events.
“It’s very intimate, as intimate as it can be, to really specialize on John’s life and what he stood for, and the things he really liked. As well as incorporating a regimental funeral as well,” she explains. “It’s really overwhelming to us to see the acts of support from the community, as well as making sure this event is something spectacular for us to celebrate John and that ultimate sacrifice that he made for all of us.”
Bird adds Cst. Davidson has had such an enormous impact on the community, and his presence will be missed.
“John brought a quote on quote normal face to policing. He really connected with people and I think that for us, it’s really important for us to continue that legacy and really reach out to our community, include them, and help each other like John would have wanted us to.”
“He was valued to us as our brother. We know the support we have from our law enforcement brothers and sisters as well as emergency services that support us every day. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know that we come together to celebrate the sacrifice that he made for us, which is his life, to protect our community. It’s very grounding.”
Celebration of life
A procession will step off southbound on McCallum Road, then turn east on King Road to the Abbotsford Centre, where the celebration of life will take place.
“The procession will start at approximately 11:30 a.m. Emergency services will lead the procession to the Abbotsford Centre, estimating that the celebration of life will start at approximately 1pm. We are expecting to hear from the premier and the family of Cst. Davidson as well as some of his close friends.”
BC Ferries is offering complimentary vehicle and passenger travel for all first responders attending the service.
Members of the public are invited to line the procession route along McCallum Road and King Road (see map below).
The Abbotsford Centre won’t open to the public until all first responders are settled inside and seating will be subject to availability.
The University of the Fraser Valley Athletic Centre and the Central Heights Church will serve as the two satellite locations.
Last Thursday, first responders and members of the general public lined streets from Vancouver to Abbotsford, as Davidson’s body was transferred from VGH to a funeral home.
An emotional candlelight vigil was held on Monday, a week after he was killed in the line of duty.Funeral Procession Open Routes