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Abbotsford Police Chief reflects on difficult year

Last Updated Dec 30, 2017 at 10:28 am PDT

(Courtesy Twitter @AbbyPoliceDept)

The Abbotsford community has dealt with a number of tragedies in 2017, including the loss of an officer

APD Chief Bob Rich is hoping to "push the reset button" in 2018, and says there are some new safety initiatives

Police Chief Bob Rich plans to retire later this year after serving as an officer for 37 years

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) – As 2017 comes to an end, the head of the Abbotsford Police Department is reflecting on a difficult year for his department.

“Policing is about dealing with bad things sometimes,” says APD Police Chief Bob Rich, who admits the lowest point was in November when Constable John Davidson was killed in the line of duty.

“For the Abbotsford Police family, we will never forget that we lost Constable John Davidson this year in November, on November 6th. That’s been horrific for us to deal with, but the support from the community is amazing.”

The man accused of killing Constable Davidson is due back in court next month. 65-year-old Oscar Arfmann made a quick court appearance in November, but his case was quickly adjourned until January 12th. Arfmann — who has no previous criminal record — is charged with first-degree murder.

But Rich says — sadly — Constable Davidson was far from the only victim in 2017.

“This year has had a number of hard things about it,” he explains. “We’ve had more homicides than other years, it’s been bad that way. We’ve had more people die in car crashes, it’s been bad that way, and we’ve lost — probably will end up losing — 50 people to drug overdoses in Abbotsford.”

Rich adds there was also a deadly crash earlier this month, involving a BC Transit bus.

“We tragically lost nine-year-old Hala, the sweet little Syrian girl that was killed in a tragic accident here,” he says. “It was a tragic accident. Nobody involved wanted that to happen and the impact on the driver and the family and everybody is just awful… such a dark wet morning, and we’ve got to find ways to help pedestrians stay safe — young children stay safe on their way to school.”

Hopeful for a new year

He’s hoping to “push the reset button” in 2018, and not have to talk about so many awful things come the end of the year.

“We’re going to start the year with a traffic safety program aimed at pedestrians and school kids, going to school,” Rich explains. “We are going to be focusing hard on the drug enforcement around what the gangs are selling on our streets both to try to stop some of the violence these gangsters are causing and also do what we can to stop people dying from drug overdoses.”

2018 will be Rich’s last year as chief as he plans to retire later this year. He’s been a police officer for 37 years and has served with Abbotsford for nine.

“So I’m going for an even decade,” he says with a chuckle.