Honouring Heroes in Life

52 Division
The family of Toronto Police Detective Constable Jeffrey Northrup joined law enforcement members at the 23rd annual Ontario Police Memorial Ceremony of Remembrance at Queen’s Park on May 1 to honour officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.

On July 2, the veteran officer and his partner were responding to a 9-1-1 call for a robbery in progress when a vehicle struck them in an underground parking garage. He succumbed to his injuries.

“I am walking in here to this event today with more than just my family,” said Northrup’s wife, Margaret. “I am here with the Toronto Police family and other police officers’ families. The support we have received has been incredible. It will be 10 months tomorrow. Some days, it feels like it was just yesterday. I am so blessed that we are part of this larger family.”

She said her husband was passionate about his work and giving back.

“Jeff absolutely loved his job and mentoring young people all the time,” she said.

Northrup is the 42nd Toronto Police officer to have died in the line of duty.

A group of people with marching officers
Margaret Northrup and her sons Brennan and Mitchell watch as officers march past the Ontario Police Memorial Photo: Brent Smyth

“From his loving wife, children, parents and extended family following his memorial service, I heard about a caring man described as a gentle giant who lived to support those who needed a helping hand, be it at Special Olympics in Brampton or members of his team at 52 Division” said the province Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

She said the dedication of Northrup and the other fallen officers along with their commitment to their fellow citizens will never be forgotten.

“Engraved on this beautiful memorial are the words, ‘Heroes in Life, not Death’,” Dowdeswell pointed out. “Nothing truer could be said for the lives of Marc (Hovingh), Joan (VanBreda) and Jeffrey. While their tragic deaths testify to the inherent danger of policing, their lives lived in service to others unmistakably affirm that policing is more than a profession. It is a calling to make a difference in extraordinary ways, to put the well being of others before your own, to live heroically.”

The names of the 272 police officers who have died on the job are inscribed on a granite wall at the Queen’s Park memorial site.

The memorial was inaugurated in 2000.

A woman at a podium by a monument
Ontario Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell speaks at the Ceremony of Remembrance Photo: Brent Smyth

Because of the pandemic, this was the first in-person memorial since 2019.

“I wish I could say that no new names would have to be added to the memorial,” said Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford. “But sadly, that is not the case. It is with the heaviest of hearts that we must call out six more names this day, six more heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of keeping the people of the province safe from harm.

“These officers never wavered in their sworn duty to protect the people of this province, regardless of the personal risk. That, my friends, is the definition of selflessness and the definition of true bravery. I know that the life of a police officer is more than just a job or a career. It is a calling and it’s a duty.”

OPMF President Jason Tomlinson said gathering at the Memorial Wall in great numbers on the first Sunday of May honours the fine officers who have sacrificed themselves to their sworn duty to protect their communities.

“Today is a day of mourning, a day of reflection and a day of encouragement and support,” he pointed out. “But most of all, it is a day of gratitude. We are so very grateful to the 272 officers named on our Wall of Honour here behind me. We are grateful to them for answering the call to serve and that the call outweighed the threat of danger, the threat of violence and the risk of death in the line of duty.

“Let us never forget that those officers are far more than names forever etched on a granite wall. They are our sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. And let us count ourselves lucky to have met them, to have known them, to have worked with them and to have loved them.”

A group of officers holding a wreath
A wreath is laid on behalf of the People of Ontario at the ceremony Photo: Brent Smyth

Tomlinson thanked the officers for their sacrifice.

“These are the words that echo through our hearts and minds and are offered during speeches like this one to honour our fallen,” he said. “Thank you. The words are sincere and the sentiment proper. We will remember them."

Tomlinson also acknowledged the lasting hardship many family members endure daily.

“The people to whom we are truly indebted are the families of the fallen,” he noted. “There are many of you here today. You live with their sacrifice day after day. Inspiringly, you find daily ways to reflect on the fond memories not of a police officer, but of a cherished parent, child, or sibling. To the families who have shared their loved ones with us, with our profession and our community, I say thank you. Thank you for sharing your treasured loved one with us. We stand beside you today and every day.”

A group of police officers in uniform in front of Canadian flag
Officers and civilians from across North America joined the memorial ceremony Photo: Brent Smyth

In addition to Northrup, five other names were added to the Wall of Honour.

There are three historical names added: Consts. Alexander Wright (Brockville), John Hickley (Brantford), John Teevens (Guelph) as well as officers who died in 2020: Joan VanBreda (Niagara) and Marc Hovingh (Ontario Provincial Police).

“I choose not to review the events around what led them to be honoured here today, but rather to reflect on the life they chose to live, a selfless life devoted to their families, dedicated to their community and loyal to their calling,” added Tomlinson. “We can honour them best by following their example and emulating the life they led. We will remember them, our heroes in life.”

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