With the untimely passing of Surrey RCMP’s Cst. Adrian Oliver and the recent memorial service I was asked by someone not related to the law enforcement field why the memorial service was such a significant event. This person meant no disrespect at all and it is a good question for those with no relation to the profession. I started to wonder how best to explain it. I attended the funeral having only ever possibly met Cst. Oliver in passing.
I wear a “Thin blue line” Canadian Flag on my jacket and have one on my duty bag. My friend and I designed this patch and many have been sent across Canada. The text that accompanies the patch begins to explain the law enforcement community’s bond.
The thin blue line has become a symbol synonymous with law enforcement officers. The reference originally comes from the “thin red line” and the battle of Balaklava where English red coated soldiers formed a long thin line to face a Russian cavalry force that greatly outnumbered them. It’s said that Sir Colin Campbell said to his men “There is no retreat from here men. You must die where you stand.” Campbell’s aide John Scott is said to have replied “Aye, Sir Colin. If needs be, we’ll do that”. Campbell formed as long a line as he could, only 2 soldiers deep as a show of force and to prevent the oncoming force from flanking them.Law Enforcement has taken on the symbol of a thin blue line to represent the same solidarity and commitment to being the line that separates good from evil, society from chaos.This subdued gray Canadian Flag that has become common place on Law Enforcement jackets, duty bags and vests has been adorned with a thin blue line. The thin blue line stretches from end to end to symbolize both an unbroken line that cannot be flanked and a sense of solidarity from coast to coast. The maple leaf, a symbol synonymous with Canadians is the only thing above the blue line, this is to symbolize Sir Robert Peel’s principle that the police are the public and the public are the police. We are all Canadian’s and a part of the society that we have sworn to protect and serve.
Cst. Oliver swore an oath to protect and serve his community and society. We, his brothers and sisters in blue, have sworn similar oaths. I attended the memorial service to honour him as a brother in our profession and to show my support for his family, friends and co-workers.
The Memorial Service
While I formed up with approximately 4200 uniformed first responders at the service, it was really amazing to see the support for a fallen Police Officer, both by fellow emergency services and by the public.
My wife was able to capture some of the sights outside.