By Devan Mighton – Originally published in the LaSalle Post on May 5, 2017
(LASALLE, ON) – Everyone has but one life to give, but when your job is in the fire services, police, or military, there comes times when one must put their life on the line for others.
And sometimes that person does not come home.
On August 23, 1969, Const. Robert ‘Robin’ Carrick of the Sandwich West Police made the ultimate sacrifice shielding a mother and her young daughter from gunfire in a domestic dispute call gone horribly wrong.
This past November, Councillor Mike Akpata tabled a motion at LaSalle Town Council to pay homage to Const. Carrick by applying to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation in an effort to rename the Sandwich West Parkway Bridge in his honour.
The Ministry of Transportation recently granted the request under The Highway Memorial for Fallen Police Act of 2002 and, in turn, this past week Akpata tabled a motion to honour Const. Carrick further.
From August 18-25, the stretch of Normandy Street, from Ellis Street to Malden Road, will become ‘Robert Carrick Way’ in preparation for the renaming of the bridge.
On August 20, an honour guard of retired Sandwich West officers and LaSalle Police Services members will march with the Scottish Society of Windsor Pipe Band, down Robert Carrick Way from the police station to the Civic Centre for an official celebration of his life.
“We’ve got a lot of time to get the nitty-gritty worked out, but the Ministry has approved our application, so it’s just a matter of getting someone from the Ministry here … to make it all happen,” Akpata explained.
LaSalle Police Deputy Chief Chuck Scanlan has long been involved in the effort to honour Carrick.
“In 2014, for the anniversary of his death, we did the plaque dedication ceremony right here in our lobby,” he recalled. “We did, previously, have a plaque up, but we wanted to update it and put something a little more appropriate for our new station as well.”
Scanlan credits Akpata, a veteran of the Windsor Police Services and the Canadian Forces, with getting the ball rolling on honouring Const. Carrick, but Akpata says he is only picking up what others have long started.
“I’ve met, wonderfully, some of the retirees from the different police services that were there that day,” said Akpata. “As you can imagine Sandwich West got on the air and started to call for ammunition from Windsor, so I’ve met some of the Windsor retirees who were at the scene and some of the Sandwich officers as well.”
Akpata states that the experience “has been completely positive, the community response has been positive and having been in touch with the family, the family is very appreciative.”
Carrick was a 22-year-old scuba diving enthusiast when he was killed. He had been with the police for three and a half years on August 23 and had given his notice just days before, planning to take on salvage diving full-time.
“When you start to look at the stories of almost all the coppers that were killed, they’re gut-wrenching,” said Akpata.
“As a former provincial sergeant major of the Ontario Police Memorial, I got to meet these families … every single one just sort of tears at you.”
Scanlan is glad to see Carrick’s service to his community remembered.
“Const. Carrick gave his life in the service, protecting the town,” he said. “He answered a domestic call that day and actually put himself between the gunman and the victim and saved the victim and her [daughter]. He gave his life for that and that’s a very noble thing.”
“I think the town residence, a lot of them are new to the area and don’t know the history here,” said Scanlan.
“It’s nice that they can learn a little bit about the history and I don’t know if that inspires or affects someone who wants to be a police officer, but hopefully it helps to get the message out about the career and it could inspire somebody to take that career path.”