Police sacrifice honoured

 

Const. Craig Town was one of several local police officers who took part in the 19th annual Thunder Bay Police Memorial Service on Sunday.

Town was shot in the line of duty nearly two decades ago. The shooting left him paralyzed.

"I try to come every year because it's extremely important that we never forget all the people who served," he said.

"I never met John Kusznier, but I remember seeing his photo every time I walked in the doors of the police station and hearing the story of what happened to him," Town said.

Kusznier is the only Thunder Bay police officer to die in the line of duty during the service's 40-year history. He died on Jan. 15, 1978 while responding to a disturbance at a Thunder Bay nightclub.

When Kusznier arrived in the parking lot, he was met by two men armed with handguns. He received a fatal wound while exchanging gunfire with the men.

The Current River bridge on Highway 11/17 was named after Kusznier earlier this year.

Sunday's memorial isn't just for fallen police officers, Town said.

"It's also for conservation officers, jail guards, peace officers, anyone who works in a dangerous job similar to the police."

Town said those officers have to get used to expecting the unexpected.

Thunder Bay Police Chief Bob Herman participated in a march from the Provincial Courthouse on Arthur Street to the Wesley United Church on Brodie Street with Town, several city police officers, provincial police officers and a few police officers from Duluth, Minn.

"This is the first year we've held this without our chaplain, Father Mike (Dunnill), who passed away earlier this year," Herman said.

Dunnill helped create the annual remembrance ceremony.

"He felt it was important to ensure that the people in this area and region had the opportunity to actually remember the officers and members of the service who have paid the extreme sacrifice," Herman said.

Every time a police officer puts on the uniform, that person is risking his or her life for the lives of the citizens that officer took an oath to protect.

"Our main goal is to have that officer perform their duties and then come home at the end of the day.

"But, there are occasions when an officer will pay the ultimate sacrifice and it's important that communities across Canada remember that sacrifice," Herman said. "It's a job that most citizens don't want to do and they expect us to do for them."

The service was part of the Police and Peace Officers' National Memorial Day held in Ottawa and other Canadian cities on Sunday.

Flags were lowered to half-mast on all federal buildings across Canada from sunrise to sunset as part of the memorial.

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