Tributes pour in for retired Abbotsford police officer killed in Nanaimo crash

Tributes are pouring in for a retired Abbotsford police officer killed in a collision in Nanaimo on Saturday.

Shinder Kirk served as a media relations officer for the Abbotsford police Integrated Gang Task Force and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC), and was for a time one of the most visible faces in the fight against Lower Mainland gang crime.

In the wake of the 59-year-old’s sudden death, friends and colleagues have been recounting what he meant to them, and to Lower Mainland policing.

Abbotsford’s police chief took to Twitter on Sunday to call Kirk a “brother,” and “a true gentleman who will be missed.”

Others in policing, like current CFSEU spokesperson Sgt. Brenda Winpenny, echoed the sentiment, calling him “professional, dedicated, and passionate about making our communities safe from gang violence.”

“Shinder was always a true professional, he was always an excellent team member,” retired Delta police chief Jim Cessford told Global News.

“Shinder had his ear to the ground,” Cessford added. “He was not only good with the media relations side and knew about his role as a media relations officer, he was also an investigator as well.

“[He] always believed that it was important for the public to know, and that the police share information with the public. He was always very open and transparent.”

That reputation for a dedication to transparency was on display in the wake of the crash, with multiple journalists taking to social media to share condolences, and to speak to the fact that he always made time for reporters.

“He would go the extra mile for interviews,” wrote former Global News reporter John Daly. “His gang talks were real & moving.”

Kirk’s death has also drawn condolences from the province’s political leaders.

“My heart is with everyone grieving the loss of retired Abbotsford police officer Shinder Kirk,” wrote Premier John Horgan.

“He was a warm & caring man, dedicated to fighting gang violence, & a much admired leader in the South Asian community.”

BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal, himself a former journalist, wrote that “In my dealings with Shinder he was always a complete professional, who treated people with compassion, empathy, and humour.”

The crash that claimed Kirk’s life happened just before 2 p.m. Saturday on Cedar Road, about one kilometre from the Cedar Road bypass and Highway 1 in Nanaimo.

Nanaimo RCMP said Kirk’s pickup truck was westbound when it collided head-on with another eastbound pickup. He died at the scene, and his two passengers were airlifted to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

The driver of the other truck and his passenger suffered minor injuries.

Nanaimo RCMP said that neither alcohol or speed are believed to have been factors in the crash, but that weather and road conditions haven’t been ruled out in the investigation.

Both vehicles will undergo mechanical inspections.

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