Const. Garrett Styles of the York Regional Police was killed in the line of duty today. From what I can gather from the media coverage, he was dragged to his death by a 15 year old unlicensed driver, after originally stopping the vehicle to ask some questions.
I hope there will be a lot more questions asked in the days and months to come. For Garrett’s death, in my humble opinion, is unacceptable.
Frankly, it infuriates me and breaks my heart.
I speak from the perspective of being a police widow myself – and it’s a pretty lousy club to be a member of.
Garrett was only 32.
So was my husband, John (a Calgary police officer) who passed away in the line of duty in Sept 2000.
Except that, in retrospect, I was blessed in that I didn’t have an individual person to blame – or focus my fury on. By the sounds of it, Garrett’s wife, Melissa, won’t be so lucky.
Melissa works as a civilian with the same police service her husband did.
It was the same with John and I.
Thankfully, a police service – indeed the policing profession – is an extended family. After John’s death, the Calgary Police Service was there to support me. I know the York Regional Police Service will be there for Melissa as well…but at the end of the day, I know just hard it is to cry yourself to sleep night after night. No one can take away that hurt.
Garrett also leaves behind two young children, as well as many broken hearts and shattered lives. I do hope his tragic death also raises some questions as to why a 15 year old would drag, with his vehicle, a police officer 300 metres down the street …and what we, as a society, are going to do about that.
Dying in the line of duty is honourable, yes – but if we don’t question why tragedies such as this happen, then perhaps we are not fully honouring our fallen officers.
I wish Melissa and her little ones all the love and peace in my heart. But I know all too well the journey through hell she has just embarked upon…and if I could take that journey for her, so she wouldn’t have to, I would.
But grief doesn’t work that way.
And so instead I send my thoughts, prayers and condolences,
Maryanne Pope, one of far too many police widows