A community in mourning laid its fallen hero Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson to rest today in a ceremony tinged with both tears and laughter, in which he was remembered for his devotion to career and family, his passion for helping others, and his sarcastic sense of humour.
Abbotsford Centre was filled to its maximum 8,500-seat capacity, with most of the stands a sea of red and blue uniforms. Law enforcement officials and first responders came from across Canada and as far away as Scotland, where Davidson first began his policing career 24 years ago in Northumbria.
Also paying tribute to Davidson were members of his soccer team, each sporting a black band with “JD #7” stitched on it, and his fellow crew members from the Cops for Cancer Tour de Valley – held in September – in their riding gear.
Among the many dignitaries in the crowd was Premier John Horgan.
Hardly a sound could be heard in the arena as the eight pallbearers – Davidson’s friends and colleagues from the Abbotsford Police Department – carried his casket, draped in the Canadian flag, from one side of the arena to the other.
Davidson’s police hats from his careers with Northumbria Police and the Abbotsford Police Department, where he began in April 2006, were then placed on top of the casket.
Master of ceremonies Sgt. Jason Scott said the service was a “fitting celebration for a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice,” referring to the incident on Nov. 6 when Davidson was shot down by a suspected car thief at a strip mall on Mt. Lehman Road.
He described Davidson as an “officer and a gentleman” who had a positive influence on his co-workers and with young people in his previous role as a youth liaison officer.
Scott said Davidson was equally as passionate in his most recent role with the traffic section and in his goal of reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road.
He said Davidson genuinely cared about people and was devoted to his family.
“John was loved and admired by all who knew him. He was good at what he did, and he was very proud – proud to be a husband, proud to be a father and proud to be a police officer.”
Police Chief Bob Rich addressed the incident that led to Davidson’s killing, saying “blackness fell on a sunny day in Abbotsford.”
But he said the immediate support from first responders on the scene and the ongoing support that has come from agencies and citizens in Abbotsford and across the world has made a difference.
“I believe we have overwhelmed the darkness,” Rich said.
He described Davidson as an amazing athlete and and as “passionate man” who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.
“John is my hero. I will never forget what he did.”
Const. Renae Williams, Davidson’s policing partner for the last two years, gave a heartfelt and tearful speech as she described how proud he was of his family and how much he enjoyed the adventures he shared with them, including hikes and camping trips.
Williams also talked about the playful camaraderie that she and Davidson shared, along with their fellow traffic officers.
She said they had a regular routine in which, after they each got their vehicles ready for a shift, one of them would be tasked with picking up a round of coffees.
“J.D. always took longer to get coffees due to the fact that nobody could understand what he was saying,” Williams said in reference to Davidson’s thick Scottish accent.
She said Davidson was level-headed, orderly, “respectful and civil” with the public, “tough but more than fair,” and filled with integrity.
“His word was his bond. He was the best of us.”
Davidson’s wife Denise, three grown children – Drew, Dina and Fay – and three siblings also spoke, saying they have been overwhelmed by the support they have received following his death.
Most who spoke said that Davidson was a modest man and would have disliked the attention that was being placed on him following his death and at his memorial service.
“J.D., you would have hated this,” Williams said.
At the end of the ceremony, the law enforcement officers and first responders again lined the streets – as they had done prior to the service – as Davidson was transported away.
PHOTOS BY DARREN McDONALD