Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Safety for Those Who Keep Us Safe

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Safety for Those Who Keep Us Safe

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Safety for those who keep us safe


An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published Nov. 7:

Cst. John Davidson died a hero on Monday.

The Abbotsford police officer was shot and killed after responding to a possible stolen vehicle.

Davidson's career - both in Canada and in his native England - will be remembered for a devotion to people and public safety.

As Canadians, we demand and expect much of our police officers in the RCMP and in city and provincial forces.

Our role as citizens, both individually and collectively through government, should be to help officers do their jobs while staying safe themselves, so they can return home after each shift to their own friends and families.

For the most part, we already do a pretty good job.

Statistics Canada reports that 144 police officers were killed in action between 1961 and 2015, with 10 of those deaths happening in B.C. Of those 144, three of them died in a single incident in Moncton in 2014 and four were gunned down in an ambush on an Alberta farm in 2005.

Contrast that to the United States where 46 officers died in the line of duty in 2015 alone.

To be fair to our American cousins, we should make an apples-to-apples comparison.

There are roughly 700,000 police officers in the U.S. with just less than 70,000 in this country, which makes the number of those in uniform per capita roughly the same in both countries.

In the last 10 years in the U.S., the average number of police deaths has been 50. If Canada was identical, we would see five officer deaths each year but we see roughly three.

It's also worth noting that American police officers are much safer than they used to be. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, twice as many cops died on the job as they do today, despite the fact there were 40 per cent fewer men and women in uniform than today.

Still, even with that improvement, American police officers are almost twice as likely to die on the job as their Canadian brethren.

Guns, of course, makes a huge difference, in the number of guns, the number of people owning them and the killing capacity in many of those firearms, which are legal stateside but largely prohibited for private ownership in Canada. …

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