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Bridge over Wanup Pit Road dedicated to fallen Sudbury police officer

Police unveil Sgt. Frederick Davidson Memorial Bridge

Sudbury's police chief, mayor and local politicians gathered on a cool and grey day to dedicate a bridge to a fallen Sudbury police officer.

The bridge on Highway 69, spanning Wanup Pit Road, was dedicated to Sgt. Frederick Davidson on Sept. 24, more than 80 years after he passed away due to injuries sustained in the line of duty.

On July 11, 1937, Davidson was conducting a fairly routine check on a pair of men who were switching a license plate off of a vehicle. When Davidson approached the men, one pulled a gun and opened fire on the officer, critically wounding him.

The sergeant succumbed to his injuries 10 days later in hospital.

"Despite this incident occurring 83 years ago, it serves as a stark reminder of the uncertainty and inherent risk that our frontline police officers face every day on duty," said GSPS chief Paul Pedersen.

"In light of that risk, it also serves to underline the unrelenting commitment to community safety and well-being that also extends to their families, to their support systems, that every day sees our people go off to work and every day hopes that our people come home."

The dedication coincided with this year's virtual 460-km Peace Officers' Memorial Run that usually starts in Toronto and ends in Ottawa leading into Sunday, Sept. 27, marking National Peace Officers' Memorial Day.

Due to COVID-19, this year's run will be held virtually, but a group of more than a half dozen Sudbury police officers lined the bridge on Sept. 24 and ran together to the Rick McDonald Memorial Bridge.

"Tomorrow they'll be running to the Rick and Joe McDonald Park," said GSPS Insp. John Valtonen. "This is the first time we've done it like this here in Sudbury. Usually, it's those runners and a few others down in Ottawa."

Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas was a guest at the bridge dedication on Thursday, and gave a nod to former Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci who was a driving force at Queen's Park in dedicating bridges in Greater Sudbury to its fallen police officers. The Highway Memorial for Fallen Police Officers Act, 2002 is based on a private member's bill introduced by Bartolucci when he was the MPP for Sudbury.

"He's the one who brought forward this bill so that we can name bridges and other highway structures in honour of police officers who have paid the ultimate price," said Gélinas. "I think it's very fitting that on our travels every day we're reminded of the seven police officers in the Sudbury area who have paid the ultimate price. My wish is that there will never be another one."

The Sgt. Frederick Davidson Memorial Bridge is the eighth highway structure that has been dedicated to a fallen Sudbury police officer, and is in fact a pair of bridges that cross Wanup Pit Road in either direction.

"His tragic murder in 1937 is still a reminder of the risk and sacrifices officers make every single day," said Greater Sudbury mayor Brian Bigger. "To the men and women with our police services, for the work you continue to do to make our community safe and strong, I want to sincerely thank you."