Cops and civilians, men and women, constables and staff sergeants, young and old, all were honored at the second annual RCMP ‘Recognizing Excellence’ awards ceremony last Friday.
“This is what builds communities,” Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz said, at the end of an evening recounting dozens of acts of bravery and self-sacrifice by both RCMP members and civilians.
Three men who came to the assistance of a female RCMP officer — Andrew Brown, Richard Atkinson and Rod Alderson — were given a long and heartfelt standing ovation by Mounties in full-dress uniform at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.
The officer was attacked by a man she had stopped for riding a bike without a helmet.
Brown kicked the man off the officer, despite his own injury at the time, and flagged down a passing motorist, Atkinson, who chased after the suspect and held him with the help of Alderson until backup officers arrived.
“We don’t encourage people to take the law into their own hands,” Supt. Keith Robinson said in an interview before the awards ceremony. “But if they want to assist the police and help keep the community safe, we always appreciate that.”
A “courageous” senior in her early 90s, Kathleen English, was also recognized for giving a thief who broke into her home as good as she got, remembering to get a description of his getaway vehicle, which led to his later arrest.
“He’s now resting uncomfortably in a jail in Ontario,” Staff Sgt. Gerry Falk, the evening’s emcee, said during the presentation.
Chilliwack Mounties were recognized not only for their acts of bravery, like carrying an elderly woman down three flights of stairs in a burning apartment building, but also for organizing events like food-bank fundraisers and basketball tournaments that are making Chilliwack a better place to live.
Assistant Commissioner Norm Lipinksi told the assembled police officers that the challenges of legislation that makes it more difficult to arrest crooks, while the criminals are getting increasingly sophisticated is “a great excuse to pack up and look for another job.”
But they had remained steadfast, he said, “ because you had a purpose, and the purpose was a greater good than yourself.”
Supt. Robinson, who initiated the awards ceremony in Chilliwack, said it is important to honor staff and the public for their good works.
“It doesn’t have to be for heroics, just plain good work,” he said.