Our tribute to Delta Police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty
Since the Delta Police Department was formed in 1888 two officers have died while performing their duties. We offer our respect and gratitude.
Constable Mark Nieuwenhuis
September 25, 1963 - April 8, 2000
On April 8, 2000 the Delta Police Department lost one of its members in a tragic motorcycle crash while in the performance of his duties. He was 36 years old and left behind a wife and three young children. He was a well-respected nine-year member of the Delta Police Department.
Mark Nieuwenhuis was born in New Westminster, BC.
Mark first served DPD as a reserve constable from 1985 to 1987. He then served with the Winnipeg and Vancouver Police Departments before joining Delta Police Department in 1991.
His fellow-officers remember Mark as a gentle and caring individual who always believed in the best of his fellow man. He had a great sense of humour, infectious smile and loved to laugh. He was a devoted husband and father.
Mark was committed to his work in the Traffic Section and particularly his work on the motorcycle, as he realized that while police officers are responsible for making their community safe, this also meant making the highways safe. Mark used an enforcement and education-oriented approach to his traffic duties. He also wrote an article in the local newspapers each month about traffic safety.
In 1995 Mark was instrumental in arranging a bicycle ride to raise money for the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada (the Foundation provides funds to allow terminally ill children to realize their most heartfelt wish). To raise money for this Foundation, Mark, with other cycling members of the Delta Police Department, met a contingent of bicycle riders from the Winnipeg Police Department at the BC/Alberta border. Both groups of cyclists then pedalled back to the coast.
In 1999 Mark made arrangements for and rode in the Tour for a Friend, a 600 km journey to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. He was also a popular coach of his son's baseball team.
Speaking at Mark's funeral service, Chief Constable Jim Cessford said "I wish to express my gratitude for this wonderful turnout as a tribute honouring a fine man and police officer... Mark was so well liked and respected that there are many members here who would have liked the opportunty to share their personal stories about Mark." Addressing Mark's wife, Chief Constable Cessford said, "Your love and support helped to make Mark the kind, caring and professional police officer that he was and we will all miss him dearly."
Staff Sergeant Ronald Edward McKay
April 19, 1927 - November 2, 1974
On November 2, 1974 an altercation took place at a gas station in South Delta (Tsawwassen) resulting in the dispatch of two constables. They soon established that the suspect was a 29 year old local career criminal who had previously threatened the lives of police. S/Sgt. Ron McKay attended to take charge.
S/Sgt. McKay drove to the suspect's residence and went ahead of the younger officers. "That's the kind of man he was," said Sgt. George Angus. "He wouldn't ever pass the buck to anyone else."
The constables saw S/Sgt. McKay speak with the suspect at the front door of the residence. After a few minutes S/Sgt. McKay
was shot at point blank range and died at the scene.
S/Sgt. McKay was 47 years old and a 17-year member of Delta Police. He left behind his wife and two teenage children.
Over 300 police members from across Canada and the United States were in attendance at the memorial service held in the Ladner Community Centre. This somber event was the first time the nine pipers and drummers of the Delta Police Pipe Band played in public.
S/Sgt. McKay was buried in Boundary Bay Cemetery on November 7, 1974 with a police honour guard in attendance.
Chief Constable Merv Smith who hired Ron McKay on October 3, 1957, said "Ron was a dedicated and conscientious officer who enjoyed outdoor living, stream fishing and children's sports. He was a family man. He loved his family and enjoyed service work in the community."
Deputy-Chief Terry Brennan described the death as "a great loss to the community." He said S/Sgt. McKay was a fine man and an "officer of great calibre".
Ron McKay was born in Vancouver. When he was 16 years old he entered the Merchant Marines and did convoy duty in the Pacific and Atlantic during the Second World War. Before joining Delta Police he served six years in the Provost Corps of the Canadian Army including duty in the combat zone in Korea.
Ron McKay was past-president of the Ladner-Tsawwassen Kinsmen Club, founder and past-president of the K40 Kinsmen Club of Ladner-Tsawwassen. He was an executive member of the BC Federation of Police Officers.
After the death of S/Sgt. McKay the Delta Police Department recognized the need for special training to handle high risk situations. The Emergency Response Team became operational in early 1975.
The suspect, Elery Long, was subsequently charged with murder and sentenced to death. This was later commuted to life imprisonment after the death penalty was abolished in Canada in 1976.
From 1998 to 2006 the convicted murderer was granted various stages of parole until his full parole was revoked after about 20 contacts with police (due to being involved in fights, accusation of assault and acting in a threatening way to a staff member at a needle exchange).
Since December 2009, the National Parole Board has granted Elery Long day parole every six months with conditions:
- No direct or indirect contact with the victim's family
- Report all intimate relationships with females to his parole supervisor
- Abstain from intoxicants
- Have no contact with anyone who is, or who is suspected of being, involved in criminal behaviour
In January 2012 the National Parole Board reviewed Elery Long's parole. He was denied full parole and remains on day parole.