Five 100 Mile House RCMP members were among the 60 British Columbia police officers honoured recently at Government House in a ceremony at B.C.’s 32nd Annual Police Honours Night.
Constables Russ Mante and Dale Bennett (now in Merritt) were among the 25 officers who received an Award of Valour, the highest award given to police officers in B.C.
Bennett and Mante received the award for dealing with an armed man involved in a domestic dispute during which a woman had been shot. They made a decision to place themselves in extreme danger to save others.
Sgt. Don McLean and Constables Jeff Ferguson and Kevin Smith were among the 34 police officers awarded meritorious service honours for acting in a manner significantly beyond the expected.
These three local officers were awarded for their dedication to duty and exceptional judgement applied in responding to the domestic dispute where a female victim had been shot.
The shooting had occurred in the yard of a home on Cedar Avenue on Feb. 10, 2009.
All five of the officers awarded for their actions in 100 Mile House were humble and hesitant to comment about the recognition, but were honoured to have been selected.
Const. Mante received the prestigious Award of Valour, but he says the important part for him was receiving the recognition alongside scores of other deserving police officers.
“It was an honour to be at the ceremony with so many heroic officers, some of whom literally ran into a burning building, scaled cliffs or risked drowning to save people’s lives.
“I think it’s unfortunate their stories are not told as often as they should be.”
Const. Bennett says receiving the Award of Valour was an honour that gave him a “pretty good, pretty special” feeling.
“Not very many people get it. It’s something special, that’s for sure.”
The setting in Government House was also remarkable, he adds.
“The venue was amazing. I’d never been in a building like that; it’s amazing architecture. And, the presentation ceremony was just great.”
Bennett, who was with 100 Mile RCMP for three years from 2006-09 before moving on to Merritt, says his wife was present at the ceremony to witness him receive the award.
Sgt. McLean says it was “nice to be recognized” with a Meritorious Service Award – and a bit unexpected.
“This wasn’t forwarded by the 100 Mile detachment, so we didn’t have anything to do with the [nomination] process.”
McLean hesitates to talk about his own award, but notes he did enjoy the visit to Victoria and meeting many other officers from around the province.
“It was a very nice venue and quite an interesting evening. It’s quite a nice building and there is some interesting history inside it.
“I’m more pleased for the other guys who were involved to receive some recognition for doing good work.”
Const. Ferguson says it was “nice to be appreciated” and an honour to have recognition of his service. He notes not every deserving officer gets recognized.
“I would think so many things happen every day in this province that don’t get recognized – of either the same or even greater status.”
Nonetheless, Ferguson says he was pleased to see his fellow officers receive awards, and found the event an enjoyable evening.
Const. Smith was unavailable for comment.