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Saturday, July 16, 2011
Parkette renamed in honour of slain officer
TORONTO - The memory of a Toronto Police officer killed in the line of duty earlier this year lives on in the oasis of a downtown park.
The City of Toronto honoured Sgt. Ryan Russell Friday by renaming Dupont Parkette, at Avenue Rd. and Dupont St.
“He was a positive role model and a true hero,” Mayor Rob Ford said. “Sgt. Russell was a brave officer who, like all of our first responders, was dedicated to help people in the city.”
Russell, a 35-year-old husband, father and 11-year veteran of the force, lost his life while answering an emergency call to pursue the driver of a stolen snowplow, which struck him shortly before dawn on Jan. 12, within sight of the parkette.
Trees sprinkle the green space and shaded the rows of police officers in attendance, many from Russell’s home unit at 52 Division.
His wife, Christine, helped unveil the renamed park sign, below which flourish geraniums and chrysanthemums mirroring the brightly coloured playground beyond.
“I ask that this park now serve as a place of peace and love, reflection and respect,” Christine said, visibly choked up. “The Sgt. Ryan Russell Parkette will always be a special place for (their two-year-old son) Nolan and I, and we are sincerely grateful.”
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said the event was both positive and solemn.
“We have gathered to celebrate a life of service and to remember the sacrifice of one very brave Toronto cop who served this community,” Blair said.
A member of the Gun and Gang Task Force, Russell had been promoted to sergeant six months prior to his death.
“I just want to pay my respects and be grateful for the sacrifice that his wife and son and all of his family and friends have had to endure,” local resident Cynthia van der Schilden said.