May 08 2014
A Thunder Bay Police officer has died during a training exercise in southeastern Ontario.
Const. Joseph Prevett was participating in a canine unit tracking exercise around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday in the Town of Gravenhurst when he collapsed.
He was taken to hospital in medical distress and died a short time later.
“Words are tough at this point,” an emotional Chief J.P. Levesque said during an afternoon news conference.
“(Prevett) will be sadly missed. You can’t pass anybody in this building and not hear them say only positive things about Joe . . . our thoughts and prayers are with the family,” Levesque said.
Prevett, 50, was participating in an Ontario Provincial Police training course with his new police service dog Timber.
Prevett began his policing career in 1998 with Peel Regional Police. He became a member of the Thunder Bay Police Service in 2003, and as a member of the emergency task unit was a police dog handler. One of five brothers who are all police officers, Prevett leaves a wife and family.
Levesque said police officers are dedicated, hardworking individuals, and anyone who knows a canine handler, “they bring that to a whole new level.
“It certainly says something about (Prevett), his character and abilities. He wasn’t with us for very long before he became a canine trainer. He was a very dedicated officer and a huge loss to this organization,” Levesque said. Officers in his unit will be attending grief counselling sessions.
Levesque said support from the OPP has been “absolutely exceptional. . . . I received the news personally from OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes.
“Joe was on duty when he died. “It’s not considered a line of duty death, or somebody was involved in a shootout or whatever the case may be. He was on duty.
“It certainly brings on certain emotions. It’s not like he was out splitting wood in the backyard and had a heart attack . . . it’s just different. As sad as that would be, this is really magnified when something like this occurs,” said Levesque.
Funeral arrangements are pending. A Facebook page is being set up by Thunder Bay Police Service to receive condolences and provide information about funeral/memorial arrangements.
Investigation by the OPP and Ministry of Labour continues into Prevett’s death.