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Edmonton officers killed in the line of duty honoured on 1-year anniversary

Const. Brett Ryan and Const. Travis Jordan, the two Edmonton police officers who were killed in the line of duty, are being honoured on the one-year anniversary of their deaths.

Edmonton Police Service Chief Dale McFee spoke Friday ahead of a private ceremony for the pair on Saturday, calling the milestone a “very sombre and difficult day.”

“We have spent the last year leaning on each other, honouring Travis and Brett’s legacy while grieving the process and processing their loss.

“Despite it, our people did not shy away from their responsibilities they’ve been bound to. Even in the darkest moments, they showed up remarkably with a lot of resiliency,” he told reporters.

Ryan and Jordan were ambushed and killed by a 16-year-old boy on March 16, 2023, while responding to a family dispute call at an apartment building in northwest Edmonton.

Both of their families declined to give interviews ahead of the anniversary, instead thanking EPS and the community for their support in written statements.

“We miss Brett every day. Though his absence resonates throughout our lives, his laughter, charisma, compassion, devotion, and fierce love for his family, friends, and colleagues are forever etched in our memories of him,” Ashley Ryan, Brett’s wife, wrote on behalf of the family.

“Today, we wish to honour his courage, dedication, selflessness, and profound sacrifice.”

Annie Jordan, Travis’ wife, said, in part, “There is a hole in our hearts. Travis wasn’t just a police officer but a beacon of strength. He had a profound impact on so many lives, and his love for his family, friends, colleagues, and job was palpable in every action he took.”

Commenting on the families’ resiliency and courage, McFee said, “As much as we hope we’ve helped them, they’ve helped us get through this, too.”

‘If it can happen to police, of all people’

The teen also shot his mother during a struggle for the firearm before fatally shooting himself, according to EPS.

Later, police would confirm he also shot a Pizza Hut employee in the neighbourhood a few days prior. A few months before that, police had taken him to hospital under the Mental Health Act.

A 19-year-old man accused of trafficking a firearm to the 16-year-old boy was charged with manslaughter.

Over the course of the year, McFee said EPS has “looked at everything” that happened leading up to and on March 16, 2023, as part of an internal review.

“There’s nothing that suggests that if we trained differently, it would have changed this. Because it was in an ambush mode,” he told reporters on Friday.

The city councillor who represents the neighbourhood told CTV News Edmonton some change for the positive would be the best way to honour Jordan and Ryan.

Through a community survey and several public meetings, Coun. Erin Rutherford said she’s been left with the impression that her constituents feel vulnerable in the wake of the officers’ killings and because of a general rise in violent crime.

“If it can happen to police, of all people, what does that say to the average community member?” she asked. “That’s what we’ve been grappling with for the last year.”

She told CTV News Edmonton, “So those officers’ lives were not lost in vain, we need to continue to work together to see positive community change.”

In response, McFee pointed to EPS’ higher allocation of resources to the guns and gangs section but reiterated his desire for a stricter judicial process for repeat offenders.

“Sometimes there’s just evil in this world and we need to try to figure out how we’re going to hold those individuals accountable earlier on. As you’ve heard us say many times… a lot of the homicides that take place in our city were people that were in custody and had done previous acts and we’re going to continue to push forward on that,” he told reporters.

That, and more teamwork between the justice, health, social and education systems.

“I mean, come on. It’s 2024; let’s get on with it.”

‘These crimes have an emotional and mental drain’

McFee also acknowledged that both the teen’s mom and the Pizza Hut victim are undergoing their own healing processes, physical and emotional.

“(She has) things that she will have to get through emotionally and I can’t imagine how tough that is,” he said. “But at least she is alive.”

As for the Pizza Hut victim, he added, “He’s got a healing journey of his own and … the mental and emotional scars, as well, that go along with that that are going to take some time, but again, he’s resilient and we wish him and his family and those employees nothing but the best as they recover from this.

“These crimes have an emotional and mental drain on a lot of people that have been touched by it and I don’t think we should ever lose sight of that.”

On Saturday, Jordan and Ryan’s names will be added to EPS’ memorial book.

Their names were also added to a monument for fallen service members on the Alberta legislature’s front lawn.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson 

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