A few years before she was killed on duty, Sarah Beckett worked in a homicide unit.
I worked with her on a couple of cases. I did not get to know her but I formed impressions. She was “very.” Very professional, respected, hard-working – and pretty. It was hard not to notice her.
Sarah returned to working on the road. That’s where she was killed.
The morning she died I was working in the same homicide unit Sarah had been in. Her death rocked our office. One of my colleagues – one of the strongest and toughest people I’ve ever met – both physically and mentally, wept in front of a desk. Mostly there was shock, and silence, and whispers. For a few minutes it looked like our unit would be investigating Sarah’s death. Fortunately that changed. It would have been too much for too many.
Yesterday, I ran in the inaugural Sarah Beckett Memorial Run.
There were many families there. A community rallied behind Sarah’s family, her friends, her co-workers.
I witnessed stirring moments. A West Shore cop sprinting to the finish line. Sprinting at ten in the morning after being up all night working a nightshift. Sprinting when he could be sleeping, with another nightshift looming just hours away.
Canine cops running in full uniform. Weighted down by boots and vests.
Families running together. Strollers and children. A pregnant mom, herself a cop, who did not have to run, but did because she could.
My most abiding memories of the run are mascots and Mounties.
Our three year old daughter Molly came to watch the race. What she saw were giant furry figures, like Marty the Marmot, towering over her. She was terrified. She cried and cried, tears running, snot flowing. Molly finally calmed down on the drive home. But she remained fascinated by the mascots. And by her fear. She kept asking me to tell her the story over and over, about how she was scared. So I did. And I told her that I was scared too. I said that she was scared because she was too young, and I was scared because I was too old.
Molly is too young. Too young to understand what Sarah’s 5k was all about.
I am old. Older than Sarah Beckett of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ever got to be.
The Mounties get a lot of bad press, much of it undeserved. What rarely gets reported is how close knit they are. The RCMP is a national family. Tens of thousands of members and one large family. I’d experienced that first hand when I’d marched in Sarah’s funeral – me and dozens of my Victoria Police colleagues lost in a sea of Red Serge.
Yesterday that sea of red didn’t march. It ran. At a run for Sarah. A run for life. A run that everyone there felt privileged to be a part of. A run that everyone there wished never had to happen.