A plaque honouring fallen Abbotsford Police officer Const. John Davidson was unveiled Tuesday on the one-year anniversary of his death.
A memorial ceremony with invited guests was held in Thunderbird Memorial Square, where the plaque is located on the Abbotsford Police Department’s (APD) Wall of Heroes.
Davidson, 53, was killed Nov. 6, 2017, when he was shot by a man who had opened fire in a strip mall on Mt. Lehman Road.
His tribute was unveiled next to one for the APD’s only other line-of-duty death – that of Const. John Goyer, who died in 2006 at the age of 40 from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) triggered by injuries he suffered while attempting to arrest a violent suspect.
Video by: Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News
During the memorial ceremony, new APD Chief Mike Serr addressed the tragic circumstances, saying officers acted with the “utmost courage” a year ago when they raced to the scene after reports came in about a man with a gun and shots being fired.
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“John was the first on scene and, tragically, we all know what happened next. John made the ultimate sacrifice, protecting this community,” Serr said. “We will always remember John as a hero who put others before himself.”
Serr said Davidson will also be remembered for his commitment, passion and service to the community, and as an officer who was dedicated to protecting and educating youth.
He said Davidson “truly gave of himself” through his devotion to causes such as Cops for Cancer and getting impaired drivers of the roads.
Mayor Henry Braun also addressed Davidson’s courage on the day he was killed.
“Const. Davidson was protecting lives by placing himself between the public and harm’s way. He risked his life to protect this community. That is the ultimate sacrifice. On Nov. 6, we lost a hero,” Braun said.
Davidson’s wife of 34 years, Denise, spoke about how her husband worked for 12 years with the Northumbria Police in England before coming to the APD in 2006.
She said he was known in England for having a knack for being able to talk to people and de-escalating confrontation.
When he joined the APD, carrying a gun was a “necessary evil.” But after his initial doubts, he decided he could still police the way he wanted – “with intelligence, humour and humility.”
Then came Nov. 6, 2017.
“He was always going to be first on the scene if he could. He was always going to go straight towards the perceived threat because training, experience and his conscience told him it was the right thing to do,” Denise said.
She said Davidson would balk at being called a hero, saying that he would only have been a true hero if he had brought the suspect – Oscar Arfmann, whose trial is set to begin in January – into custody with no more shots fired.
“But then he always had a terrible habit of self-recrimination and setting impossible goals,” Denise said.
She said Davidson would be proud of the support and love shown to his family – by the APD, other agencies and the community as a whole – after his death.
“Our faith in humanity took a massive blow that day, but every act of kindness we’ve received has restored it piece by piece. Our happiness will take a little longer,” she said.