Honouring the brave Sgt. Eric Mueller

Every so often a startling tragedy reminds us the brave men and women of Ontario’s police forces face the potential of having to risk their lives for their communities on any given day.

One such reminder came last Thursday when Sgt. Eric Mueller was killed in the line of duty while responding to a call in the community of Bourget, near Ottawa. Two of his colleagues were also injured, but thankfully are expected to survive. The shooting took place after the three officers responded to a call of a reported gunshot at what is believed to be the suspect’s home. The responding officers were likely on high alert given the nature of the call, but nothing could have prepared them for what they were about to encounter. Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Thomas Carrique has labeled the event an ‘ambush.’ In the coming weeks investigators will attempt to determine a motive and try to make some sense of this horrific event. Perhaps there will be some lessons learned as to how to better protect officers in the future. All of which are noble causes, but none of them will bring back Sgt. Mueller.

The 42-year-old officer leaves behind a wife and two young children. His 21 years of service mean he spent exactly half of his life as an active police officer who got his start with the OPP as a member of Ottawa’s police force in 2002. Disturbingly enough, Thursday’s shooting wasn’t even the first time Mueller had been seriously injured in the line of duty. In 2008 he was struck by a suspect driving a tractor-trailer who was attempting to flee after being stopped by police in the Township of Edwardsburgh-Cardinal. Mueller suffered a broken leg and endured three surgeries followed by months of recovery following the incident. While that may have been enough to cause others to turn in their badge and seek a safer line of work, Mueller returned to active duty just a short time later. Tragically, he would end up paying the ultimate price for his service.

Police have gotten a bad rap in recent years for reasons that are far from black and white. The bad cops don’t represent an entire industry, but there’s no denying there’s been widespread problems that aren’t limited to a small portion of cops or particular police departments. That doesn’t change the fact that thousands of people across this province get up every morning, put on a uniform and a badge with a thought in the back of their mind that at any point they could be asked to respond to a call that could see their lives put at risk. We all hope to never have to make that call. We can all hope no more officers are forced to make that sacrifice. But at the end of the day, we’re grateful that if it comes to that, there are men and women willing to take that risk to keep our communities safe and we will respect those who step into harm’s way to protect the innocent.

-Adam Prudhomme

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