July 14th, 2024

Fallen officers remembered by LPS in annual ceremony

By Lethbridge Herald on June 10, 2022.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh pays tribute to Cst. Calvin Byam, who died in the line of duty on June 10, 1964, during a memorial cemermony Friday at a monument located in the city’s river valley.

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge Police Service honoured the memories of Acting Sgt. Paul Smith and Cst. Calvin Byam on Friday to pay tribute to their sacrifice once again, in the presence of Byam’s family and friends. 

Both officers died in the line of duty on June 10, 1913 and 1964 respectively. 

On June 10, 1913 Smith died at the southwest corner of 3 Avenue and Stafford Drive South intersection, after coming into contact with the exposed wire of an electric light. 

The newly installed light had gone out and Smith was electrocuted when he attempted to shake the chain to turn it back on.

On June 10, 1964 there was severe flooding in the river valley and Byam was dispatched to assist in evacuating a small island where several people were living in a hut. He was on horseback and attempted to cross the river when he was swept away and drowned.

LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said it is important to always remember such sacrifices.

“We want to make sure that their sacrifices don’t go unnoticed and are never forgotten, and for that reason every year we continue to celebrate their lives and honour them for the sacrifice that they made,” said Mehdizadeh. 

A memorial was held Friday at a monument located in the Lethbridge Nature Reserve Park where LPS members and veterans paid tribute to Cst. Byam in the presence of members of his family and friends. 

Members of the Lethbridge Police Honour Guard marched in the flags. A short presentation followed from Chief Mehdizadeh, Lethbridge Police Association president Jay McMillan, Chaplain Aaron Moore and a member of the Byam family, Hallie Leavitt, granddaughter of Cst. Byam. 

This year, members of the 2022 Cadet Class were in attendance.

Leavitt told the media the memorial is important to her family as it helps them find out more about who he was as a man and an officer. 

She said her dad was 11 years old when Byam died and therefore his memories were through the eyes of a child. Leavitt said the stories her father would tell her were about her grandfather’s experiences and not so much about the man himself.  

“Coming here has really helped me to learn about what my grandfather was really like, as a person and his dedication to his job, into the community and his family and how well respected and well liked he was,” said Leavitt. 

She said the memorials have really brought him alive for her. 

“I appreciate it so much, he’s not just in a story, he’s my grandpa and a real man and so for the police honouring him so completely and so well every year and teaching their cadets about him, I can’t even really express what it means to us,” said Leavitt. 

Byam’s eldest daughter said she had the opportunity to learn something new about her father at the memorial on Friday morning and it meant a lot to her. 

“It just makes it even more special, because you know that he’s in other people’s memories. My dad was quite well liked, he was quite a character for years, and years after I’ve heard of stories of him at parties and the fun and wild things he did as a he was not an old man he was 31 when he passed,” said Monta Salmon. 

She said that to hear some of his work experiences just adds to the family’s knowledge and understanding of the person that he was.

Another member of the family who learned something new about Byam was Angie Heninger, another one of his granddaughters. She said she learned about her grandfather’s love for horses and that moved her to tears. 

“I’d never heard that and I love horses, my daughter Gemma loves horses so much and I just was overcome by knowing maybe that’s where we get this love and it just connected me even more to him,” said Heninger. 

The Lethbridge Police Service is trying to connect its members to the memory and sacrifice of the two fallen officers by creating a Wall of Honour. 

“We’ve created a wall of honour to make sure that even our employees in day-to-day activity, when they walk up and down the stairs they actually see that and remember them,” said Mehdizadeh. 

A brief ceremony was held at the southwest corner of 3 Avenue and Stafford Drive South for Acting Sgt. Smith Friday shortly after Cst. Byam’s memorial. 

The LPS has been formally recognizing the two fallen officers since 2017, the year both monuments were dedicated.

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