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Small gesture, big impact

20-Jul-2021

Even the smallest gesture can change the course of someone’s life. Just ask Constable Ash Lougheed.

One night, Lougheed found himself with his mother in the Royal Alexandra Hospital emergency room. Tummy troubles, explains Lougheed, who was about nine years old at the time. While there, a police officer came in, escorting a patient. The police officer sat down and struck up a conversation with Lougheed.

“I don't really remember what he said,” recalled Lougheed. “He obviously could tell that I was uncomfortable. He left the waiting room shortly after.”

Later that evening, the same police officer came back to deliver a teddy bear to Lougheed.

“He walked in carrying a white teddy bear with a red bow. I still remember that bear. I couldn’t believe that he had come back just to bring me a teddy bear.”

Lougheed named the bear Tim, after the officer, and wrote a letter to thank him for the bear as soon as he got home.

 

Over time, the name of the officer and bear fell from memory, but the encounter stuck with Lougheed.

“I always said that from a young age, I wanted to be a police officer, and I wanted to join Edmonton Police Service,” says Lougheed.

When he did join EPS in 2012, Lougheed often wondered if that same police officer from his childhood was still working for EPS. He was never able to find out. Then by chance one evening, Lougheed received a Facebook Message from Constable Tim Ryan who had found a box filled with old letters and papers.

“We were in the process of moving, and I was sitting down going through a box of old papers, trying to decide if they should be thrown out or kept,” says Ryan. “I came across this letter dated in 1999. I turned to my partner and asked, ‘do you think this could be the same person?’”

Ryan was in fact, the nice police officer that had comforted Lougheed in the hospital all those years ago. But their paths had crossed many times since Lougheed joined EPS. They knew each other quite well from working together at Downtown Division.

Ryan had also worked in Recruit Training and taught Lougheed as a new officer. The pair worked out at the same CrossFit gym, often as partners.

“It was just so crazy,” says Lougheed. “This is somebody that I had been trying to find for such a long time, nearly 22 years later. It’s hard to put into words.”

Ryan is happy to find out all these years later that his small gesture influenced someone to become a police officer—and a police officer that he has become good friends with.

“Throughout your career, you hope to have a positive effect. There’s a lot of negativity in the world and you’d like to see the results of something positive for sure,” says Ryan. And Lougheed, now at Northwest Division, hopes he can also have a lasting and positive effect on someone.

“This brief and seemingly inconsequential exchange with a police officer had a huge impact on my life and shaped my future. It is one of the reasons I wanted to become a police officer and has influenced the way I approach my encounters with the public day-to-day."