published in Grief, Police Line-Of-Duty Deaths, Workplace Safety by admin | February 2, 2012


Wed Feb 1, 2012 – When Const. John Petropoulos, a Canadian police officer fell to his death in Sept 2000, his widow, Maryanne Pope, was forced to accept the unacceptable.

John was searching a warehouse during the investigation of a suspected break-and-enter when he stepped through an unmarked false ceiling. There was no safety railing to warn him – or anyone else – of the danger. There ended up being no intruder in the building.

More than a decade later, the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund (JPMF) raises public awareness about workplace safety issues facing emergency responders – on both sides of the border. The Fund’s 5 TV public service announcements have aired well over half a million times in Canada and parts of the States. The powerful 10-minute safety video, Put Yourself in Our Boots, is being shown in safety meetings, conferences and community presentations throughout North America.

Since Const. Petropoulos’ death, 1795 American police officers have died in the line of duty*

“Is this acceptable?” asks Pope.

Most of these deaths were preventable, as was Cst Petropoulos’. “There is a myth,” says Pope, “that when a police officer dies in the line of duty, it is tragic, yes – but it is an accepted risk of the job. In reality, many police officer deaths can be prevented, when communities work together to help minimize the risks.”

Pope points to the Jan 21, 2012 death of Officer Garret Davis of the Honolulu Police Department in Hawaii. “Our SLOW DOWN; It’s No Picnic Out Here public service announcement addresses the significant issue of officers getting struck by passing motorists while on the road (either in or out of their police vehicle) while carrying out their duties. The PSA educates motorists about the importance of slowing down when passing emergency services personnel on the road…and giving them room to work.

Sadly, 11 U.S. police officers were struck and killed in traffic-related incidents in 2010**, highlighting the importance for motorists to pay attention and slow down.

Another way Pope is striving to raise public awareness about workplace issues facing emergency responders is through her creative non-fiction book, A Widow’s Awakening. It was published through her company, Pink Gazelle Productions, in 2008 and has sold over 1500 copies. With the audio version now available, the author hopes to reach more people with her message about the horrific personal impacts of a police officer’s death.

A Widow’s Awakening,” Pope admits, “is not an easy read, I realize that.”

Click here to hear a short audio clip (1 min 30 sec) from A Widow’s Awakening.

“You almost want to apologize,” wrote Michael Platt of the Calgary Sun newspaper, “reading Maryanne Pope’s account of her husband’s death. So vivid is her description, you feel like an intruder…a voyeuristic journey both heart wrenching and uncomfortable.”

“But by demonstrating the reality,” Pope explains, “of the immense impacts on the loved ones left behind, it is my hope that more people will take a moment to stop, look around their workplace from the perspective of an emergency responder who may have to attend during an emergency, and ask themselves: is it safe…for everyone? If not, then make a change.”

“If people make their workplaces safer for emergency responders,” concurs Ian Wilson, Managing Director of the JPMF, “they also make it safer for everybody, including their own employees, visitors and service workers.”

Sadly, A Widow’s Awakening often strikes an all too familiar chord with readers. “My husband was killed in the line of duty in August 2007 while attempting to make an arrest,” wrote another police widow. “It was the most horrible time of my life. I could relate to your story all too well.”

“There is tremendous honour in dying in the line of duty,” says Pope. “But at the end of the day, it gave me little solace to know that John gave his life protecting a premise that did not need protecting.”

Click here to listen to another audio clip (this one from John’s funeral, 1 min 30 sec) from A Widow’s Awakening.

For further information on the JPMF and the public education resources available, please visit To have the Fund’s TV public service announcements aired through your local media, please contact Ian Wilson at

For information or to purchase a print copy of A Widow’s Awakening, click here. All proceeds from print copies sold through the JPMF go to the JPMF.

To purchase the audio book, click here.

*Source: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

For further inquiries, please contact:
Ian Wilson
Managing Director, John Petropoulos Memorial Fund
(403) 891-4269

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