The heartbeat of drums and wail of bagpipes echoed through downtown Edmonton on Monday, as thousands of police officers and emergency responders from around the country accompanied the bodies of two Edmonton police officers in a sombre procession to their regimental funeral.
Constable Travis Jordan and Constable Brett Ryan were killed by a teenaged gunman in mid-March. Constable Jordan was 35 years old. Constable Ryan was 30.
“Travis and Brett ventured dutifully into a dark and dangerous moment, answering a call with someone in a moment of profound vulnerability,” said Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee, speaking during the service at the city’s Rogers Place arena. “And they made the ultimate sacrifice: their lives.”
In front of the stage were two large photos of the officers and their flag-draped coffins, the officers’ badges, medals and hats arranged carefully on top.
Flags in the city flew at half-mast. Blue ribbons and ties fluttered from street signs and light standards under a clear sky and bracing wind. The procession included municipal police from Vancouver to Halifax and New York, RCMP, firefighters, emergency medial technicians, sheriffs, correctional officers, serving military and veterans.
“Not many people wake up in the morning, and know that they’re going to risk their lives when they go to work,” said Dawn Wenzel, one of hundreds of people who lined the streets to watch the officers and first responders pass. Ms. Wenzel’s wife is a peace officer, and was among those taking part in the funeral procession.
Constables Jordan and Ryan were shot on March 16 after a woman called police for help with her 16-year-old son. The teen, who had a history of mental-health issues, killed the officers, and shot and seriously injured his mother when she attempted to take the gun from him. He then killed himself.
“Senseless is a word that fits this moment,” said Sergeant Curtis Hoople, president of the Edmonton Police Association. “Accepting loss that cannot be easily explained can tear at us.”
He said he wanted the families to know the two officers “were loved, respected, admired and damned great cops.” He broke down in tears, vowing the men would not be forgotten.
In emotional eulogies, constables Jordan and Ryan were described by family, friends and colleagues as dedicated police officers who loved their families and their work. Constable Jordan had been with the Edmonton Police Service for eight years, and Constable Ryan for about five.
The two men were posthumously awarded several medals, including the EPS Medal of Honour. Constable Ryan had previously received an Award of Merit for his attempt to save the life of a 14-year-old girl.
Originally from Nova Scotia, Constable Jordan worked as a jail guard before moving to Edmonton with his wife, Annie, to join the Edmonton force in 2014. Long-time friend Brody Sampson said Constable Jordan had always wanted to be a police officer, and came to Edmonton to “live out his childhood dream.” He described Constable Jordan as the “resident hero” to his family, and said the officer was the epitome of integrity.
“He was the consummate diplomat – loving, kind and compassionate – and he wore these attributes like armour,” Mr. Sampson said.
Edmonton Police Service Chaplain Roy Langer read a eulogy written by Annie Jordan, in which she described her husband as a generous, selfless, loving person.
“He would do absolutely anything for you, including sacrificing his life in the line of duty for those he loved,” she had written. Ms. Jordan stood alongside Mr. Langer as he read her eulogy, her eyes downcast.
Constable Ryan’s brother, Garett Ryan, marvelled at everything his younger brother had been able to accomplish in his short life, and said he had been “one of the most safety-oriented officers you’ll ever meet.”
Constable Ryan’s wife, Ashley Ryan, began her eulogy with a reflection on grief, and described the profound loss of the former paramedic, hockey referee, skydiver, firefighter, police officer, and “proud soon-to-be father” of their child.
“These past 10 days have been the worst days of our lives,” she said. “Nothing can bring him back. No what-ifs can change what transpired that night, no matter how many times I wish that night was different.”
She recalled his distinct smile and laugh, and described him as “an old man at heart.” As she walked back to her seat, she stopped to kiss the corner of his coffin.
The crowd at Rogers Place was a sea of blue and black and red serge, of stiff hats and metal badges that glistened when caught by the light. People could be seen wiping away tears throughout the proceedings.
The funeral ended with a series of ceremonies symbolizing duty and sacrifice, including a 21-gun salute, and the officers’ last radio dispatch: “Please book off Constable Travis Jordan and Constable Brett Ryan 10-2. Out of service for the final time.”