Maurice Sabourin was shocked, sad and angry when he learned five law enforcement officers were killed and seven wounded in a sniper attack in Dallas on Thursday night.
“The level of violence our colleagues face in the United States is that much greater than what we face in Canada,” said the president of the Winnipeg Police Association.
A deadly rampage like the one in the United States not only could happen in Canada, it already has.
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In June 2014, Justin Bourque shot and killed three Mounties in Moncton, N.B., and wounded two others.
On July 7, 2006, two RCMP officers were killed by a gunman in Spiritwood, Sask.
On March 3, 2005, four young RCMP officers were fatally shot near the town of Mayerthorpe, Alta.
Sabourin said the recent Dallas shooting was an unfortunate reminder that some officers pay the ultimate price while trying to keep their communities safe.
“I think in the back of everybody’s mind, they know it could happen here, so there’s always that heightened sense of vigilance to make sure everybody goes home safe at the end of the day,” he said.
Sabourin added that race relations are certainly different in Canada, but there are still issues that he worries could create “hatred towards police.”
Steve Kirby, the University of Manitoba director of jazz studies, said he was thrown to the ground by officers with cocked pistols when he lived in St. Louis, but he’s never faced police violence since moving to Canada.
“Here, I have had no run-ins with the cops,” he said.
Kirby said he can’t make sense out of what is happening in his home country. As a black man, he said there are clear issues between police and minority populations, but violence is never the answer.
“I’m just really sad. It just feels like there is a certain small section of society that just wants violence,” he said. “It just feels like they are winning. They are getting their violence.”
Sabourin said it is unfortunate, but whatever happens in the United States, “We see the creep … into Canada.”
Canada’s police forces are affected by the tragedy in Dallas because officers feel a sense of camaraderie when someone in blue is killed, Sabourin said.
“It’s affected our members,” he said. “They hear that [officers were killed] and there is a multitude of emotions — there’s sadness, there’s disbelief, there’s anger.”
Dallas police Chief David Brown said Friday that the gunman who died at the end of a standoff with police said he “wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers.”