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Highway of Tears work shows police at their best

Closure’s a funny word; do you ever really shut the door on the pain that hijacks your DNA when your child/sibling/friend is murdered

Editorial; Dale Bass - Kamloops This Week

As someone who has never hesitated to criticize the police, it’s time to heap on the praise.

And pile on the thanks, as well, for the work they’ve done in bringing some amount of closure to at least one family.

Closure’s a funny word; do you ever really shut the door on the pain that hijacks your DNA when your child/sibling/friend is murdered?

Whatever the emotion is that they are feeling, the family of Colleen MacMillen is at least experiencing it, thanks to the dedication of the officers who have continued to try to solve the murders of women in the B.C. Interior.

What they’ve done cannot have been easy. It must have been frustrating, infuriating, demanding and simply daunting, but they kept at it and, in addition to the information they’ve been able to share with the MacMillens about what happened to their teenaged daughter in 1974, they’ve been able to tell two other families with Kamloops connections they think the embodiment of evil once known as Bobby Jack Fowler also killed their loved ones.

I’m sure that team of detectives working on the task force feels emboldened now, perhaps even starting to believe it will be able to close a few more of the files that represent dead women in the province.

Let’s hope the task force can. But, it’s also important to acknowledge that kind of work. For every Monty Robinson wielding a taser or crashing a car, there are dozens of other officers who take the gravitas of the badge and the calling seriously and who treat it with reverence. They just want to do good, protect us all and make it home to their own families every night. I simply can’t imagine that kind of mindset, that kind of determination and commitment.

Heck, I stopped covering hard news, for the most part, here at KTW and moved into entertainment just because it became too hard, too painful to interview some of the marginalized people who came across my path in the last dozen years.

I stopped wanting to meet them because I was tired of knowing them when their bodies were found.

It started with Heather Hamill, whose death I covered for KTW.

At her memorial service, I met and spent a lot of time talking with Shana Labatte. We hit it off and I’d stop and talk to her if I saw her on the street after that night. Those conversations ended when her body was found.

Later, I got to know a lovely woman who was also homeless, a lost soul fighting her own demons. She died when she fell into a campfire down by the river.

At her memorial service, emotions were pretty raw and one woman couldn’t handle it. She stepped outside of the New Life Mission and broke down. I followed her out, tried to console her and spent more than an hour talking with her. Her name was Sheri Hiltz and, the next day, her body was found on the North Shore.

Even something as fun as a big birthday party for the women at the House of Ruth brought its own pain later. I met a wonderful woman there who gave me a necklace that night, saying it was a symbol of our friendship. I’d see her often afterwards and we’d say hi, share a few minutes. Her name was Leah Cardinal and it is her memorial you see next to a street sign at the west end of Victoria Street.

Those were just minor moments in a life, but they brought with them such pain and anger. It’s why I can’t imagine how these officers get up every day and go out and do it again.

Look for the monsters. Hope they find them. They’re good people doing a dreadful job.

The next time one of their colleagues does something stupid and makes another headline, we should remember those who won’t get those headlines.

This week, they got the right headlines and they deserve our thanks.