It was the worst news loved ones of a police officer could hear when Const. John Davidson was shot and killed in the line of duty in Abbotsford, B.C. on Monday.

Davidson, who had been a police officer for 24 years both in the U.K. and in B.C., was trying to arrest a man who had allegedly opened fire in a mall parking lot.  

His death is being mourned in police communities south of the border as well, said an U.S. advocate for families of law enforcement officers.

"When we hear of an officer's death, regardless of where it is in the world, the police community mourns together," said Melissa Littles.

She is the wife of a police officer in the Edmond Police Department in Oklahoma and the author of a book called Bullets in the Washing Machine based on interviews with police families.

A knock on the door

As the spouse of a law enforcement officer, Littles told CBC's host of On The Coast Stephen Quinn, she knows well the day-to-day fear that something might happen.

"A knock on your door when your husband is on duty will always make your heart race for a moment," she said.  

Littles, and other spouses of police officers she works with, advocate to bring awareness about the issue and to highlight the humanity behind the badge.

"They are not just somebody out there writing you tickets," she said. "We try to humanize them and remind people that these are mothers and father, brothers and sisters."

Preparing for the worst

Littles also encourages families to discuss a worst case scenario: what they will do if the police officer spouse is injured or killed on the job.

"They are horrible things to think about, nobody wants to think about that, but the worst time to have to think about that is as soon as you've lost the love of your life and the father of your children," she said.

She has a guide for starting the conversation and a list of what information to put in an end of watch packet on her blog. It should include everything from the names and contact information of extended family to passwords and banking information, Littles said.

The anguish in the voices of those mourning Davidson's death is apparent to all, Littles said, and familiar to police communities around the world.  

"Our sympathies are very much with you all and with the family and absolutely our deepest condolences go out to all of you," she said.

To hear more, click on the audio link below:

With files from On The Coast.