A solemn legion of thousands congregated to honour the memory of the fallen B.C. RCMP Const. Rick O’Brien, at a regimental funeral ceremony held on Wednesday. O’Brien, a former mentor with an undeniable flair for humour, showed immense compassion and an unwavering commitment to public service, endearing him to a multitude of hearts.
Hailing from all corners of Canada and the United States were fellow officers and pivotal first responders, making their way to Langley Events Centre. Together, they shared both sombre tears and peals of joyful laughter, fondly reminiscing over life snapshots that projected O’Brien in his favourite light.
Nicole Longacre-O’Brien, his wife, delivered the most sorrowful tribute. She expressed her gratitude for the profound mark O’Brien left as a nurturing father figure to the three children she brought to their union. Through a eulogy, penned by her and shared by family friend Stephanie Porter, she reflected, “I always knew you were my gift from the universe – exactly what me and the kids needed. I loved loving you.”
Tragically, the former teacher’s life was brought to a premature end at the age of 51 when he was shot during enforcement of a search warrant in Coquitlam last month. The couple had been in the stages of planning an idyllic get-away, a fact shared by Longacre-O’Brien painting a picture of a dream never realized.
Colleagues painted O’Brien as a jester amongst them even while shouldering his duties with due solemnity. His empathy often extended towards society’s under-privileged. “He would hardly wait for the dispatcher to be done talking before taking a case involving some sort of vulnerable victim,” vouched Cpl. Pete Westra, a co-worker turned friend.
O’Brien made it a point to spend his personal time with students and youth, sharing his law enforcement vision. He displayed an uncanny ability to jump into action even off-duty, as is evident from an incident where he chanced upon a fire after work and rushed to combat it. “He didn’t require a uniform to take on the responsibility of serving his community,” stated Cpl. Dan LeCLaire, who was the best man at O’Brien’s wedding.
Even amidst the emotionally charged environment, O’Brien’s unique quirk of gas releasing was referenced, bringing forth collective laughter. It was evident that the untimely death of O’Brien was felt deeply by the community.
The community’s pain was palpable as mourners lined Langley’s streets. The sombre procession saw about 3,000 uniformed officers accompanying O’Brien’s hearse, with onlookers sporting red attire displaying their support.
The ceremony concluded with a soul-stirring display by the RCMP’s “E” Division Pipe Band, a quiet moment of remembrance, and a final benediction by Ridge Meadows RCMP Chaplain Greg Dalman.
As the attendees rendered a final salute, echoing sentiments brought forth by Westra, the community seemed to convey their lingering love and respect for O’Brien. “We can’t say enough, but we can say: Well done, Rick. We love you.”