Sgt. Ryan Russell honoured with renaming of park
A small park was renamed on Friday afternoon in honour of Sgt. Ryan Russell, a Toronto police officer who died in the line of duty after being struck by a stolen snowplow early this year.
The Dupont Parkette, located at Avenue Road and Dupont Street, is now known as "The Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette."
Mayor Rob Ford, Police Chief Bill Blair and the officer's family attended the official dedication and unveiling of a new sign at 2 p.m. on Friday.
Russell's wife, Christine Russell, thanked the community for remembering her husband and said he would be honoured by the change.
"The Toronto police service motto is to serve and protect and so I ask that this park now serve as a place of peace and love, reflection and respect," she said. "And I also ask that this park protect the integrity and dedication, memory and sacrifice made by Ryan."
She said that the park will always serve as a special place for her and their son, Nolan.
Community members and police officers filled the park, a grassy area with a small playground and water fountain, to watch the unveiling.
Chief Blair said the community and police service is inspired everyday by Russell's sacrifice and his father, Glenn Russell, said though his family is still "deeply mourning" his loss they are "grateful for the honour being bestowed upon him."
Mayor Ford said the dedication is an opportunity for the community to celebrate the officer's life.
"It's a great honour and a great privilege to name the park after Sgt. Ryan Russell, he was a true hero," he said. "We tried to turn it into a celebration but it is a sad and touching day."
On Jan. 12, Russell tried to stop a stolen snowplow. He died from his injuries after he was struck by the vehicle.
Russell, an 11-year veteran of the police force, was the first Toronto police officer to die on the job since 2002.