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Victoria detective honoured for work identifying fallen officers

Victoria police Det.-Const. Jonathan Sheldan, left, is invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Gov. Gen David Johnston during a ceremony in Ottawa last Wednesday.  - Photo by Master Cpl. Dany Veillette, Rideau Hall
Victoria police Det.-Const. Jonathan Sheldan, left, is invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Gov. Gen David Johnston during a ceremony in Ottawa last Wednesday.
— image credit: Photo by Master Cpl. Dany Veillette, Rideau Hall

A Victoria police officer’s dedication to honouring fallen police and peace officers in B.C. has earned him a special honour.

Det.-Const. Jonathan Sheldan was appointed a member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Gov.-Gen David Johnston in a ceremony in Ottawa on May 9. Sheldan was one of 34 police officers recognized.

The 20-year Victoria police veteran, who works with the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, earned the appointment for his historical research identifying police and peace officers in B.C. who have lost their lives.

The detective said last week’s recognition is not about him.

“It’s about us not forgetting the sacrifice of others,” he said.

Sheldan founded the B.C. Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation with two Vancouver police officers, which led to the creation of a memorial at the southeast corner of the legislature in Victoria in 2004. The names of 96 fallen officers in B.C. were featured on it at the time.

Through their historical research, foundation members identified 10 more officers who have paid the ultimate price, and their names have since been added to the granite bastion.

More recently, Sheldan has identified eight officers who died in the 1800s. Their names will be engraved on the monument later this year, bringing the total to 114.

“There was a time period when I was new on the job that I think we’d forgotten part of our history, and it really struck me that you can’t do that, you can’t forget the members that never got to go home one night,” he said. “They didn’t get to go back to their families like I do.”

In his leadership role with the Victoria Police Department’s Historical Society and his work with the Canadian Heraldic Authority, Sheldan was also instrumental in the development of VicPD’s first crest and coat of arms, unveiled in 2009.

An exhibit showcasing how the department developed its coat of arms will be featured at the National Capital Commission’s Capital Information Centre in Ottawa, starting Thursday (May 17) and running until Nov. 11. The display marks Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

Sheldan’s Order of Merit appointment is well-deserved and reflects his dedication to the Victoria Police Department and its history, said Victoria’s police chief.

“Jonathan’s commitment to VicPD and his passion for honouring our history have shone through during his career,” Chief Const. Jamie Graham said in a statement.

In his speech, Johnston said the appointees put the needs of others before their own.

“You are here not by accident, but because you have stood out as willing to go beyond the call of duty, to think differently about the work that you do and to show compassion for the community,” he said.

Since the inception of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces in 2000, select members and employees of police agencies in Canada have been recognized for exceptional contributions that go above and beyond protecting the public.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Related story on the Victoria police museum

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