Memorial service for John Zivcic

(Update)Thousands of men and women in uniform lined the streets of Etobicoke Monday to pay respect to 34-year-old Toronto Police Constable John Zivcic, who died after his unmarked cruiser crashed on Bloor Street West on November 30th.There was seating for 7,000 and there was very few empty seats in the cavernous Northern Hall of the Toronto Congress Centre.As the casket moved from the funeral home to the Congress Centre, it gathered thousands of respectful followers. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says this is difficult for police officers, but it also makes them proud: “We gather. We march. It’s a solemn occasion to show our respect, and to mourn the loss of an officer, but we march in solidarity, because everyone in that march has made the same choice to serve. And we know the risks inherent to our work. And our families know the fear.”Officials like Lt. Governor David Onley and Premier Kathleen Wynne gave tributes, as did the Chief: “He was outgoing, charming, keen and capable. He was very popular among colleagues, and recognized among superiors for excellent work ethic and for remarkable potential.”Supt. Frank Bergen of Toronto Police: “He would then go onto YouTube and play Croation folk music to get psyched up to do his reports. He’d sing along and pretend to play the air accordion.”Zivcic was awarded a commendation after rescuing a woman he saw in a moped crash while on vacation in Cuba. He took her to hospital and paid her bill.Bergen said: “Among this pattern of shirtlessness and action hero mystique, John apparently had a cat, named Princess.”John’s brother Tom: “I won’t have the opportunity to reciprocate and speak at his wedding, so I guess this is my best man speech to him.”Tom Zivcic remembered his talented brother constantly coming to someone’s rescue, like a food court janitor who was being tormented by teenagers: “John flew out of his seat and threw tables and chairs out of his way to get to that poor Filipina lady. The kids were frozen in fear watching him come at them. He picked the Filipina up off the floor and made the young punks clean up the mess at her feet.”This was a service with full police honours. Next, Cst, Zivcic goes back to his home in Niagara. There are visitation services Tuesday and Wednesday in Thorold and a private family funeral on Thursday in Welland.Bergen said: “Officially report John 10-7 for shift 59.”Investigators are still doing forensic analyses of the crash and say they will release information when the investigation is complete. Questions about whether police officers should be required to wear seatbelts are being raised. The Chief says he wants his people to be safe and says there may be lessons to be learned from this tragedy. But Monday was about remembering the hero in life. read more