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Toronto police memorial will now include officers lost to suicide

Last Updated Apr 20, 2017 at 6:53 pm EDT

Police officers who die by suicide in Toronto will soon have the same right to have their names included on the Memorial Wall as those who die by physical on-the-job injuries.

CityNews has obtained details of a settlement between the Ontario Human Rights commission and Toronto police, which outlines how and when police must end what the Commission has described as “discrimination based on disability.”

There has been debate for years as to whose name qualifies for the Toronto police memorial. Both the police brass and the union have blocked attempts to include the names of officers who died from job-related suicide.

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OHRC applies to get TPS to honour officers who died due to mental illnesses

Thursday’s settlement is a result of a claim filed by the family of Sgt. Eddie Adamson, who died after one of the darkest days in Toronto police history.

On March 14, 1980, Adamson’s partner Const. Michael Sweet was shot to death during a botched robbery and hostage-taking inside a Queen Street restaurant.

Sgt. Adamson never recovered. Twenty-five years later, in a motel room surrounded by articles about the tragedy, Sgt. Adamson shot himself. His widow Linda Adamson told CityNews in an interview a number of years ago, “Ed died that night. They didn’t kill one officer, they killed two. My husband just took 25 years to die.”

See the full story on Eddie Adamson below.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has now given Toronto police six months to “develop a process for the inclusion of names on the Memorial Wall.” That process, the Commission says, “shall be issued by the Chief of Police no later than Oct. 31, 2017.”

This doesn’t mean that officers who die by suicide will automatically have their names included on the wall, but it ensures “equal opportunity for inclusion as the names of members who die from physical injuries.”

In a statement, obtained by CityNews, the Chief of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Renu Mandhane, says the settlement will ensure that “all members who lose their lives in the line of duty are treated with the same degree of recognition and respect.”

Watch below as one police widow explains why she doesn’t want the names of officers who died by suicide on the same wall as her fallen husband.

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I feel the pain of all the families involved, and I feel I need to express my personal opinion. I am from a military/police family, and I am a retired Corporal from the 25 Service Battalion. My Grand Father served with Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Forces at the end of World War 1. My Grand Father suffered from nightmares from witnessing a military execution of three soldiers at the C.N.E. training camp. He came back from Siberia a changed man. He witnessed Russian troops shooting there own soldiers if they turned back. He contracted a disease that weakened his heart and lungs for the rest of his life. His physical wounds changed him but what he saw in war he could never sake it off, as we are so often told in training. Military organizations have had a poor record in dealing or acknowledging mental health issues.
Soldiers and Police live by a code, “Leave no man behind”. The phrase is a code I still live by. By excluding mental health work wounds we are blocking the families and other officers from healing. We are loosing such amazing officers and soldiers because we live in a culture that has not caught up to the science of the brain. The memorial is a symbol that is a piece of the healing journey, these officers and their families deserve closure. We cannot heal as a society when we cut off members of our troops when we are not comfortable with what the job did to them. Police officers, soldiers, workers and their families will not seek advice or help if they feel they are being judged for their work related injuries. We are Canadians and we take care of our wounded, and it is my belief that there is no such thing as a self inflicted wound. It is a wound that was left to fester because we failed to administer first aid. Somewhere along the line we stopped caring about each other.

April 21, 2017 at 10:58 pm