The memory of fallen police Const. Devon Northrup will remain etched in stone in Bradford.
Dozens of people, including friends, family, first responders and members of council honoured Northrup’s legacy as the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury and the South Simcoe Police Service (SSPS) held an official dedication ceremony in which the former Middletown Park was renamed to Constable Devon Northrup Memorial Park at 140 Langford Boulevard on Monday evening.
Northrup, 33, and Const. Morgan Russell, 54, were shot and killed after they responded to a disturbance at an Innisfil home on Oct. 11, last year.
Northrup was a six-year member of the service and worked with the community mobilization and engagement unit.
Russell was with the force for 33 years. He was a trained crisis negotiator and was assigned to uniform patrol.
In honour of Russell, the Town of Innisfil renamed its South Innisfil Arena and Community Centre to Morgan Russell Memorial Arena and Community Centre, in June.
The SSPS opened the ceremony for Northrup with a march by the colour guard, which also included family and members of council, before Deputy Mayor and MC Raj Sandhu introduced the first speaker, Mayor James Leduc.
The mayor spoke on behalf of council before presenting Northrup’s parents, Ron and Heather Northrup, with a bouquet of flowers.
“Oct. 11 is a day that will always be remembered in the towns of Bradford and Innisfil as the day we lost two outstanding public service members,” he said.
The mayor noted a commemorative rock placed below the park sign at the park’s south entrance. The rock is made of Canadian red granite, into which are carved the words “Badge #229 Worn With Pride And Honour.”
“Canadian red as they call it, signifies strength longevity and distinction, which we felt was the perfect representation of Const. Devon Northrup. Despite the tragedy that led us all here today, my hope is that Const. Devon Northrup Memorial Park is a place of happiness, a place of reflection, a place of play and of laughter,” he said.
Next to speak was Chris Gariepy, police services board chair, who said the board was both proud and moved by the dedication to the fallen officer.
“The park will stand as a permanent legacy to Devon, a tribute to his bravery and dedication. Honouring Devon this way will preserve his memory and ensure his story lives on,” he said.
Police chief John Van Dyke acknowledged all the current and past members of the police service who were in attendance, and thanked members of council and town staff for their efforts to dedicate the park to Northrup, before paying tribute to the fallen officer and his six years of service with SSPS.
“Devon began his policing career in the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury ... He served both Bradford and Innisfil with dedication to public safety, and a commitment to improving the lives of others. ... Devon took his job very seriously. At the time of his death, in addition to his regular duties, Devon was also serving in the ceremonial unit and the emergency response unit,” he said.
The chief also took a moment to acknowledge the significance of the dedication.
“The renaming of this park is a symbol of our community’s commitment and our commitment to never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by Devon,” he said before addressing the fallen officer directly. “Devon, you are and always will be our hero in life. We honour you and we will never ever forget you.”
Sandhu then invited Northrup’s parents, Ron and Heather, to say a few words.
Ron thanked everyone in attendance and shared his last memory of his son.
“We remember Devon as he was pulling out of driveway last Thanksgiving weekend. He was headed home with turkey dinner leftovers. He texted us the next evening and told us about all the lunches he had made for that week, but the next day was Oct. 11 2022,” he said.
Northrup’s mother could be seen wiping away tears as his father spoke about the family’s loss.
“For Devon, the passage of time did stop that terrible night. For him there was no new stories to tell, no new text messages for us, no phones to treasure, laughter to share or holiday feasts to enjoy. But he lives on now in our hearts and our minds, filled with 33 years of precious memories of the life he lived and loved,” he said.
Ron thanked the SSPS for making Northrup part of the police family, for giving him leadership, mentorship and friendship as well as extending kindness to the family.
He also expressed the family’s gratitude for making the park an “endearing tribute” to the fallen officer’s life.
“He would have been so honoured and humbled by all of it,” he said.
Other family members were also given a chance to speak before the colour guard led the crowd to the park’s south entrance where the new sign was officially revealed, before marching to the north end to do the same.
After the conclusion of the ceremony, many in attendance remained to provide their condolences to the family and to share memories of Northrup.