ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) – On a rainy day in Abbotsford, thousands of first responders joined family, friends and members of the public to honour a fallen officer who was killed in the line of duty.
Constable John Davidson lost his life during a shootout after responding to reports of a stolen vehicle on November 6th.
Thousands of officers from across the region were led by motorcycles and even a pipe band on Sunday, as they marched in a procession that led to a memorial at the Abbotsford Centre. A riderless horse, a symbol of a fallen officer, was also led along the procession, followed closely by a parade of blue and red uniforms of officers. Davidson’s bike, which he rode in the Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley this year, was part of the procession.
Inside the Abbotsford Centre, bagpipes played as police officers, paramedics, search and rescue personnel, friends and family celebrated the life of Davidson, and bade him farewell. Officers from the United States and the UK were some of those who attended.
Born in Scotland, Davidson began his career with Northumbria Police in the northeastern United Kingdom in 1993. He and his family moved to Canada in 2006 and he joined the Abbotsford Police Department, with whom he would spend 11 years.
While as a constable he made the ultimate sacrifice for the community, he’s also been remembered as a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend.
It was a celebration of the man behind the uniform. Friends spoke of his passion for helping young people and the time he saved a woman from suicide.
“We’re here to celebrate a hero, who was loved by his family, his friends, and everyone that knew him,” said Sergeant Jason Scott to those at the memorial service. “A hero that made a difference in this community. Behind the uniform, he was a man that people admired.”
“You always hear people say ‘what a great guy that person was.’ This could not ring truer for John,” he added. “He’s an absolutely amazing person that we all admired. He was an officer and a gentleman, and everyone who came in contact with him knew that.”
There has been an outpouring of support from members of the community as well as police forces across the region since his death.
Davidson’s traffic section partner Constable Renae Williams said she was profoundly honoured and privileged to have been his partner.
“He was truly a character. He was stubborn and opinionated and we loved him for that.”
She shared stories of her former partner while wiping away tears.
“JD would not stand for being less than his best or allow you to be less than your best. He challenged me to work harder in every aspect of my life. JD always pushed himself to be first, whether that was in the number of stats or impaired drivers he got, during a workout or in trying to help others. Which is exactly what happened on November 6, 2017.”
“John spoke openly to those closest to him about how much the four of you meant to him,” she said to Davidson’s family, adding how proud he was of his children.
“You are gone but not forgotten.”
Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich spoke of the darkness that fell on his city when the fatal shot rang out on November 6th. But he said the kindness and spirit of his community and police have overwhelmed the evil of his death.
“Your lights shine bright.”
“The truth is, the wound that John received was beyond medical help. There was nothing that could be done,” Rich said. “But we know that if he could have been saved, he would have been saved because those people did everything they could to save his life. And their lights shone in the City of Abbotsford in the inky blackness that had been dealt upon us by this man and his evil action.”
“John is my hero, we will never forget what he did.”
“John, we will not forget you.”
He loved us so furiously: Davidson’s family
To his family, John Davidson was a different kind of hero. His daughter Fay remembers a tough father with a rough Scottish accent.
“He was strong, intelligent, hilarious, sarcastic, humble and a real piece of work. He was a tough father but we always knew that he loved us so furiously and we held out wellbeing as his highest priority. Dad had such a powerful sense of what was right and wrong that showed through in everything he did.”
In a statement that she couldn’t bear to read herself, Davidson’s wife Denise said the day proved more than anything that John deserved a longer life. She challenged those in uniform to be the best versions of themselves every time they wear it.
PHOTO GALLERY: Thousands of first responders gather to honour fallen officer Constable John Davidson
According to Sergeant Judy Bird, 53-year-old Davidson had such an enormous impact on the community, and his presence will be missed.
“John brought a quote on quote normal face to policing. He really connected with people and I think that for us, it’s really important for us to continue that legacy and really reach out to our community, include them, and help each other like John would have wanted us to.”
“He was valued to us as our brother. We know the support we have from our law enforcement brothers and sisters as well as emergency services that support us every day. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know that we come together to celebrate the sacrifice that he made for us, which is his life, to protect our community. It’s very grounding.”
Last Thursday, first responders and members of the general public lined streets from Vancouver to Abbotsford, as Davidson’s body was transferred from VGH to a funeral home.
An emotional candlelight vigil was held on Monday, a week after he was killed in the line of duty.