A salute to Const. Michael Chernyk & all LEOs in the face of terror

Renée Francoeur
November 07, 2017
By
The weekend of September 30, 2017, was a heavyhearted one, to say the least.

Two women were killed in a knife attack at a train station in Marseille, France. An Edmonton police officer was “viciously” stabbed outside a football stadium after being struck by a car, the impact sending him 15 feet in the air, according to the service. And then the worst mass shooting in American history took place when a gunman opened fire from his Las Vegas hotel room window, killing 58 and injuring more than 500.

Who can find the right words when something like this happens? What kind of healing can we do for such an international, gaping wound? I didn’t know where to start — other than spending the day holding loved ones — but, as the conversations turned to gun control, lone wolf labelling and the ins and outs of hotel security, there was one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about: that brave Edmonton constable, and the role all levels of law enforcement have to play when it comes to threats of terror.

They are the boots-on-the-ground who have to make quick life-and-death decisions, navigate the use of force and weapons, and protect innocent bystanders — many of whom are now stopping to film dangerous scenes on their smartphones instead of fleeing.

As it stands, Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, a 30-year-old Somali refugee, is accused of hitting Edmonton Police Const. Michael Chernyk with a speeding car, stabbing him and then running down pedestrians with a U Haul truck. Miraculously, there were no fatalities. Sharif faces 11 charges, including five counts of attempted murder.

“While the investigation continues, early reports indicate that this is another example of the hate that we must remain ever vigilant against,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Oct. 1. “We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada’s strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear. Edmonton is a strong and resilient city, and I am confident that its citizens will support one another to overcome this tragic event.”

Edmonton is doing just that, as demonstrated at its hometown’s hockey opener where Chernyk received a standing ovation when he walked out onto the ice during the Oilers’ pre-game ceremony.

While many are arguing about immigration policies in the wake of the Edmonton attack, I think what is most important is to realize Canada is not immune to terrorism and that it is our frontline officers who bear the burden of trying to get a quick handle on these threats as they’re unfolding.

This makes it all the more crucial we continue to look after our law enforcement officers, ensuring they are in their best form — physically as well as mentally and spiritually (more on this, specifically the value in achieving restful sleep, in Isabelle Sauve’s Health & Wellness column on page 14 in our November issue).

We have to ensure they have access to the resources and technology they need so they can perform the best they can, and most importantly go home at night, safely, to their families.

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