Former police officer John John Christ, 82, was admitted to hospital with pneumonia and died in his sleep on Tuesday, a hospital spokesman said.
Mr. Christ was one of the first police officers to wear the distinctive uniform and his passing is a shock to the family and friends of the retired police officer who is credited with saving hundreds of lives over decades of policing in Winnipeg, Winnipeg’s largest city.
“He was the hero of the profession and we are very proud of him,” said his son, David Christ, who runs the police-run John John Memorial Foundation.
“It’s sad but not unexpected that John John was one.”
John John died of acute respiratory failure at his home on Tuesday morning, the spokesman said in an email.
He was a former Winnipeg police officer and had been hospitalized for a while with pneumonia, he said.
“Our hearts are with his family and we wish him the very best.”
The foundation has set up a GoFundMe page for John John to raise money to help pay for funeral expenses.
The family of Mr. John is hoping to raise $30,000 to cover the cost of his funeral and burial, said his wife, Karen.
“The foundation will be making all arrangements to cover all of the costs,” Karen Christ said.
In addition to John John’s funeral, the foundation will donate a large number of books to John’s grandchildren, a family friend said.
On Tuesday, John John had been a member of the Winnipeg Police Service for 26 years and was promoted to sergeant two years ago.
“John John was an amazing man, a great police officer,” said Winnipeg Police Chief Mike McCormack, who has been working with the Christ family for several months.
“As we have discussed over the past few months, the Winnipeg police have been working to better our relationship with the community.
He’s the type of person that we are all trying to make better.”
In a statement, John and his wife said he was a devoted father to his three young children and loved his wife and three children’s two dogs, Charlie and Bella.
“I will always remember him as a man of character and integrity, who was dedicated to his community,” John Christ said in a statement released through the foundation.
“We all miss him.
Our hearts are broken.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
The Winnipeg Police Association says the department’s departmental policy requires officers to be medically cleared for the deployment of body armor and ballistic vests, as well as for wearing a Kevlar vest.
Police chiefs say body armor is not required for the use of force.
But the body armor has become a focus for police departments around the country, as a growing number of departments and departments around Canada are exploring whether it is justified for officers to use deadly force.
“Officers have been using their body armor for decades, in most cases, without a proper training program,” said David Dolan, a spokesman for the Police Association of Ontario.
“That training should be updated to reflect that and that is what the police association is looking into.”
Police in Canada have said officers are trained to use their body armour and are subject to a strict review process when they deploy it.