HIGH RIVER, Alta. - Hundreds of police officers and emergency personnel from across Canada are expected to march in a southern Alberta town today to honour a peace officer killed in the line of duty.
Rod Lazenby, 62, was a retired RCMP officer who was responsible for enforcing bylaws in the Municipal District of Foothills. He died Aug. 10 after going to a property near Priddis, southwest of Calgary, to investigate a dog complaint.
What happened on the property has not been disclosed publicly but Lazenby was dropped off at the District 8 police station in Calgary later that day in what police said was "medical distress."
He died in hospital and an autopsy confirmed that Lazenby's death was a homicide. A man who lived on the property, Trevor Kloschinsky, 46, has been charged with first-degree murder.
Lazenby's friend and co-worker Geoff Carpenter said he is expecting a big turnout for the memorial.
"We've certainly had calls and letters and emails and texts from all over Canada and reaching down into the United States," said Carpenter, the protective services co-ordinator for the Municipal District of Foothills.
"The feedback we have is into the high hundreds. We're actually ensuring seating for 1,000 people to cover off."
Carpenter said a regimental procession will make the half-hour march to the memorial centre, where the service will take place.
A veteran in law enforcement, Lazenby was a Mountie for 35 years before he retired in 2006. He then started working for the Foothills district.
Carpenter, who also has an RCMP background, said everyone is still in a state of shock that something like this could happen.
"We know that any time you are in an enforcement capacity there's always the potential things can happen. But I think anybody dealing with the public can potentially have an issue," he said.
"I'm sure it's in the back of everybody's mind that something may happen. We just didn't expect it to happen."
Carpenter said Lazenby chose to move to High River after his retirement from the RCMP to be closer to his daughter Meghan and her children. He said Lazenby was a family oriented man who remained physically active.
"We played hockey together. He was into competitive swimming for the senior games," said Carpenter. "He liked to be very active. He was very athletic for a man of his age and physique."
Lazenby's death has ignited a debate about whether peace officers should be allowed to carry guns.
Carpenter said level 1 peace officers are equipped with batons and pepper spray. Lazenby was a level 2 peace officer, which meant he responded to calls unarmed.
Alberta Solicitor General Jonathan Denis has indicated his department is reviewing its policies for peace officers, including whether they should work in pairs and be allowed to carry sidearms.