British Columbia

Why police don't take cash donations — and where you can give instead

Days after one of its officers was hurt in a hit and run, the Abbotsford Police Department has been inundated with phone calls and emails of support for the force. Some have been offering financial donations — an honour, officers say, but something the force can't accept.

Abbotsford force reports wave of support after hit and run that injured Cpl. Aaron Courtney and RCMP officer

Cpl. Aaron Courtney was honoured twice — once for bravery by Canada's governor general — for his commitment to public safety. He was injured in a hit and run while training in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday. (Facebook/Abbotsford Police Department)

Days after one of its officers was hurt in a hit and run, the Abbotsford Police Department has been inundated with phone calls and emails of support for the force.

Some have been offering financial donations — an honour, officers say, but something the force can't accept.

"We wanted to say thank you so much for our community, the province and even actually Canadians sending us support for our officers," said Sgt. Judy Bird, the department's public information officer.

"But we also noticed there are a lot of people who want to be able to support their agencies and be able to show that, and we just wanted to remind you that, unfortunately, police agencies can't accept money."

Police officers on scene responding to an incident in May 2018. The force said it's common to see offers for donations to the force, but it's something they can't accept because they're already government-funded. (Kevin MacDonald)

Cpl. Aaron Courtney was at a training exercise with his police dog in Burnaby, B.C., when he and an RCMP officer were hit by a car on Monday. The white Toyota sped away from the scene on North Fraser Way.

Courtney, who didn't have serious injuries, has since been released from hospital to recover at home. The RCMP officer remains in hospital.

Bird said Courtney had "no broken bones," but will be sore.

"He has quite a road of recovery ahead of him but he is just thankful to be home with his family around him," said Bird.

In 2010, Aaron Courtney received an award for bravery from Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean for his role in pulling a man and his teenage daughter from their burning car:

Cpl. Aaron Courtney receives bravery award in 2010 

3 years ago
2:14
The Abbotsford police officer was honoured for his role in rescuing a man and his daughter from a burning vehicle in 2007. 2:14

Bird said she's heard of a GoFundMe page launched to support Courtney in recent days, as well as fundraising by local businesses.

She said police agencies don't accept financial donations as common practice because they're federally, municipally and provincially funded. That said, donations to police-related charities are more than welcome.

"We do encourage you to contribute to charities that are police related if you do feel the need to support your local agency," said Bird.

Suggestions for donations

The officer recommended organizations like Honour House, the Law Enforcement Torch Run and Cops for Cancer .

  • Honour House is a heritage home in New Westminster that acts as a "home away from home" for first responders, veterans and members of the Canadian Arms Forces to stay — free of charge — while they undergo medical treatment in Metro Vancouver.
  • The Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised money for the Special Olympics since 1981. Law enforcement officers run the event carrying the Flame of Hope.
  • Cops for Cancer, launched in partnership between Canadian first responders and the Canadian Cancer Society, is a program that raises money for children and families living with childhood cancer.

The latter was a favourite of Abbotsford police Const. John Davidson, who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 6, 2017. Davidson rode his bike in the gruelling, nine-day tour through B.C. to raise money for cancer research.

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich lends a comforting hand at the funeral for Const. John Davidson. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Fundraisers for Davidson were also created in wake of his death, though those were endorsed by the Abbotsford Police Union rather than the force.

Ultimately, Bird said any support anyone offers for the department — donations for charity or a kind word in passing — is appreciated.

"We are so honoured and privileged to work in such a great environment," she said.

With files from Dan Burritt

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