When I was about five years old or so, I got lost from my mother in a shopping mall. Tearful, I looked around until I saw a policeman. I knew policemen were safe so I walked up to him. No, it wasn’t a security guard, they always made me nervous even at a young age. This was a cop. I walked up to him and told him my mommy was lost.

I’ve never been afraid of police because I know that I’ve never broken the law (okay, little things like jaywalking but nothing more than that). Police have always been my friends. I don’t know why, I just like someone who carries handcuffs for a living.

Perhaps it helps that I come from a city where the citizens and the police often (not always) work hand in hand. Edmonton likes its police force and always has. Even when we were the murder capital of Canada, those of us who walked the blue side of the law admired its police force and enjoyed a friendship with them.

So it is that when I heard about Ezio Faraone’s death back in 1990, I was shaken and sad along with the rest of the city. This was Edmonton and our officers weren’t killed in the line of duty. “Cop killer” isn’t something you hear around here. Maybe if I lived in New York or Los Angeles it would be different. However, in Edmonton, we honoured the one who protected us by dedicating a park in his name, complete with statue.

Now, a quarter of a century later, another officer has fallen; Constable Daniel Woodall. I don’t know the circumstances and I don’t need to know them. I can look around the city at the flags flying at half mast to see the effect of this officer’s death. I watch as my mayor, Don Iveson, cries when he gives a news conference on this latest death. I’m proud of him and my city. A police officer’s death shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Then I read in the news about a police officer throwing down a black teen girl in a bikini because he felt disrespected and my world turns upside down. This isn’t the type of officer I went toddling to as a trusting five year old. They have guns and handcuffs and shiny smiles. They’re a cross between Superman and a faithful hound. Not this snarling, rabid thing. I’m frightened for the world outside of my wonderful home city.

I cannot reconcile the pride I feel in the police officers of the Edmonton City Police with the pure horror and disgust I feel for those officers targeting people because of their skin colour. The two are so far apart in my mind that they are different creatures.

I understand the anger and outrage people feel towards Eric Casebolt, the McKinney officer in the video. There is a sense of betrayal and hurt that comes with the idea that an officer was not a protector but a bully. I feel it, too.

However, I mourn with my city for the good man that died protecting this city. I am saddened that this man is out of our lives now. It is because of him and officers like him that I can leave my windows open at night. That I can walk down a city street without being harassed or frightened. I’m safer because of officers like him.

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