Here in southern Ontario, one of the big news stories this week has been that of an officer who was killed in the line of duty. Just north of Toronto is the relatively peaceful town of Newmarket, where many try to get away from the angst and emotion of the city. Unfortunately, the violence associated with such seems to be everywhere. Much though the community has rallied around the family of the man who was slain, and police from many surrounding jurisdictions and nations have shown their support, it is unfortunate that it was needed in the first place. Over 8,000 men and women came to show their unified support on this tragic day (York Regional Police, 2011)
Garrett Styles, a police officer who was about to turn 33 this weekend, performed what should have been a routine traffic stop last week. He realized there was there was a problem with the registration of the van and tried to stop the teen-agers who were driving it: they tried to get away but snagged the older man and dragged him 300 metres before losing control and rolling the van on top of him. (Globe and Mail, July 7) Mr. Styles managed to call for help, but he died some hours later. His last call has been transcribed and digitized across the media (Toronto Sun, June 28): whether for good or for bad. Myself, I don't need the added emotion of such a call to make up my opinion on the matter. The broadcast of such material would seem to be intended to inflame anger and stir emotion. It's the kind of thing I would expect from Fox News, but I'm disappointed to see its popularity up here.
The young man who was driving at the time of the incident was also hurt in the accident: he is in hospital and can â€œhear but cannot speakâ€. He has been told that he may face an adult sentence if he is found guilty of first-degree murder, with which he has been charged. Such a penalty would be life in prison (Globe and Mail, July 7). I hope that other young people will hear this story and take it to heart. A decision made one night to go joy-riding through the streets of town has resulted in not just one police officer dead, but in other lives completely ruined. If we would only learn to think before we act and not judge everything by the thrill of the moment, we would live longer and happier lives.