Farewell to Alvin

In my line of work, it’s not often that you can arrest somebody on multiple occasions and end up being friends with them. But such was the case with Alvin. Many of us officers, especially those who’ve worked in Central Division and the downtown area, have become like an extended family to Alvin over the years.

I have yet to meet a tougher and hardier individual than Alvin. The many years of alcohol abuse and hard street living had definitely taken a toll on him, but block in and block out I would always find him somewhere in the downtown area. In recent years, the bank lobbies became his place to sleep and hang out. I spent many a time stopping in to chat with him. He was usually reading the newspaper, playing solitaire, or just killin’ time.

Other times while walking the beat downtown, I would see him sleeping in a bank and tap on the glass just to make sure he was all right. It usually took a few taps, but he’d pop his head up, see it was me, let out a slight chuckle and a wink, and go back to sleep. Alvin was an interesting and unique person to say the least!

I remember the first time that I met Alvin. It was in the winter of 2009 and I was a newly minted police officer. Dennis, my FTO (field training officer) at the time, and I were dispatched to a call of an older man with long hair and a beard that was yelling at people in the area of 24th and Idylwyld Drive.

Dennis, who later became my central beat partner, figured it would be Alvin, and having never met him before I was excited to finally meet the legendary, wild, old fighter that all the cops talked about. As we drove up to the old train station, we saw Alvin sitting on a bench. We stopped and exited our car, and the minute he saw us he started to scream and yell at Dennis, “I hate that guy, I hate you”. He yelled and pointed his finger at Dennis and motioned for me to “get him out of here”. So, Dennis stopped in his tracks, turned right back around, got into the car and drove away. I walked up to Alvin and asked what all the fuss was about. His response was to let out a guttural growl, and told me again that he “hates that guy” and that he (Alvin) “is a fighter.”

I said, “That’s ok, but you don’t hate me, I’ve never met you before.” He looked wildly at me with his long scraggly beard and walrus teeth, and in attempts to calm him down, I asked if he was any relation to Chief Gabriel Cote. He made a fist and began to pound his chest like an angry, yet proud, gorilla and yelled, “That is my family! How do you know about him?”

Having spent some time in the east central part of Saskatchewan, I was familiar with the Saulteaux people and the Cote First Nation just north of Kamsack, SK, where Alvin hails from. Alvin’s ancestor, Chief Gabriel Cote, was a prominent Saulteaux Chief who was a noted hunter and trader that signed Treaty Four in 1874.

I helped Alvin up and walked him down the stairs to Dennis who had pulled up in our car after circling the block. Alvin was pretty drunk that day and he kept flexing his biceps and repeatedly telling me that he was a fighter. I told him that I had heard he was a lover, not a fighter. He started to laugh and said, “Well, I’m that to you now.”

As we drove him back to the station, he started tapping on the silent patrolman (the divider between the front and rear seats) in the back of the car and held up a $5 bill. He said he was hungry and he wanted some hamburgers. We parked in the alley down 2nd Avenue and I ran into the McDonald’s and got him two double cheeseburgers which he happily ate on the rest of the way into detention.

Funny enough, Alvin was brought in a few days later and Dennis just happened to be in detention when Alvin started to yell at him again. This time he called him a “fat guy.” We never could figure out why Alvin had such a dislike of Dennis.

This was my first of many, many encounters with Alvin, but when I started to walk the Central beat a few years later I ended up spending quite a bit of time with him.

In later years, most of our chats revolved around the same topics. He would always tell me in the early summer months when it was getting too hot, that he was “heading up north” as he didn’t like the heat. He told me that he would travel to the Yukon or the Northwest Territories and work in a mine to get out of the heat.

I’d always ask when he was leaving and he always replied, “Friday.” But when the next week rolled around I would still find him walking around downtown and he’d repeat the same story of his mining adventure.

There were times, I wouldn’t see Alvin for weeks on end and then he would reappear. When I asked where he had been, he would tell me that he was in either in Toronto, Vancouver or L.A. He would always say that he didn’t like it there and that’s why he always came back home.

I remember him telling me one time that he just returned from LA and he liked it there because there was “lots of fighting, and I like fighting.” On another occasion, he told me he had just gotten back from Vancouver. When I asked him if he liked it there, he told me it was “too big”.

I told him that the Vancouver Police seem like a pretty good bunch of guys, but he told me that he didn’t like them. It was at this time that I asked him if he liked the Saskatoon Police. To my bewilderment, he said that he didn’t like those guys either. Shocked, I responded by saying, “What about me?” He laughed and replied, “Well, if I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t be talking to you, would I?”

To this day I am not sure where Alvin went during those times of absence. I knew he was in Corrections part of the time, but where he went the other times is but a mystery to me. Maybe he did actually venture to those cities, who knows?

Alvin talked little about his childhood, merely that he had many brothers and sisters, and that his dad worked in a bush camp up by Hudson Bay, SK. There were times we would chat and he didn’t have much to say. But on many other occasions, I had a hard time getting away. Every time I would get up to leave, he would ask me some other question. I knew he really didn’t care to hear the answer, he just didn’t want the conversation to end, or want me to go.

Many other officers kept an eye on Alvin over the years and would usually end up giving him parts of their lunch, cigarettes, toques or mittens (which he would always lose), and usually whatever spare pocket change we had. I knew Alvin was continually counting his money as he would ask for some random denomination such as 63 cents. Funny enough, one day he asked my former partner Cst. Robbie Taylor for 63 cents and when Robbie reached in his pocket, he had exactly that amount and graciously gave it to Alvin.

Alvin was famous for losing his glasses. Quite often we would see him in the downtown area with no glasses on and he would usually tell me that he got into a fight. I knew better, knowing that he likely either just lost them or that they broke when he took a fall. I usually told him to come to the station and I would see if I could find him a new pair.

There are boxes of donated glasses at the station and whenever Alvin ‘lost’ his, I would go grab a few pairs, a newspaper and then do a reading test with him till he could find a pair that worked. If possible, I would set him up with an old pair of sunglasses as well. He was always pretty excited about those.

I found out today that Alvin passed away a few days ago and, I admit, I feel an emptiness. It will be different as I walk my downtown beat knowing that he will not be in one of the banks and I won’t have to make a special trip to go check on him. As an officer, you encounter many individuals, but you remember certain people because they are special, and Alvin was one such special person. Alvin was not a rich or well accomplished man. He drank daily and chose to make the street his home, but he was tough, he was a fighter, and he was a survivor.

It brings a tear to my eye to think of the bad things that happened to Alvin in his past to push him to lead the life that he led, but in that, I do hope that he will find peace wherever he now may be.

Farewell my friend, you will be missed by many.




For a more in-depth look at Alvin, check out The StarPhoenix’s article, The Trouble with Alvin. Written by Charles Hamilton and David Hutton, this story has been nominated under the Long Features category for a 2013 National Newspaper Award.

This entry was posted in From The Ground Up (by Cst. Derek Chesney). Bookmark the permalink.

98 Responses to Farewell to Alvin

  1. Phyllis Reimer says:

    What a heart warming story with a sad end.

    • elma remando says:

      i really enjoyed your story but it was also a ery sad one to. but u can be proud that you were kind to him in times of need.

    • jocelyne says:

      I remember this fellow…I appreciate to read the thoughtfull gestures of the Saskatoon police force!!!

    • lchursinoff says:

      jusy reading this article brought a tear to my eye,there are good human beings,caring for there fellow man and iam sure karma will step in for this officer,who made a differance….

  2. carol ward says:

    A beautifully crafted article….thanks so much for your rememberance! Its comforting to know Alvin was noticed and at least sometimes treated with dignity; I had met and spoken with him, but until now I didn’t know his name, and that is my shortcoming…

  3. Dustee-Raiye Wiklun says:

    Having spent my own life on both side of the law “towing the line” between my duty and my oath to our flag with the military and at the same time crossing the borders into troubled lands and situations which I shouldn’t have been in the first place this story has really touched my heart and I truly appreciate the strength of spirit that you and other officers respectively apply to your jobs. I know first hand myself it is not always an easy day but finding hope keeps us going and this blog is an amazing insight into your day to day experiences in policing that the public and myself appreciates very much thank you

  4. Warren says:

    Im so impressed with this article.

    I didn’t know Alvin, but I knew he was a ‘feature’ downtown, and many many officers have dealt with him in the past.

    There is no doubt that Alvin had issues, however it is somewhat comforting to read this entry, knowing that people that are sent to remove him from the street, treated him with dignity and respect and even became friends with him.

    Thank you for being and remaining “human”.

    RIP, Alvin.

  5. Ken Cole says:

    God Bless people like Chess who have such big hearts and understanding of less fortunate people. It is him and others like him on SPS that make me really appreciate our Police Service.

  6. val kerns says:

    thank you for befriending and liking Alvin….it warmed my heart that you had such a history with him and that you just liked him…rest in piece Alvin..no more hard life <3

  7. Linda Hilderman says:

    I worked as a Nurse at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre for many years and admitted Alvin on numerous occasions. He was often in severe alcohol withdrawal but always detoxed quickly …. he told me it was because he just drank “the good stuff like Chinese cooking wine” which is high proof stuff. I often told him he must have had a liver of steel! He was always jovial altho’ I’m sure he didn’t feel good going through withdrawal but he never caused a problem. I often saw him downtown and he would give me a wink and a smile. I can assure you that many of the times he went missing, he was at the Correctional Centre for a “vacation” from the hard street life. I also met several of his brothers over the years, as well. I will miss seeing him around

    and hope he has found the peace and comfort that eluded him all his life. Does anyone know what caused his death? I just hope he didn’t die alone on the street. Rest in peace, Alvin.

  8. Terry Zoerb says:

    Such a beautiful story , Thank you for sharing ,

  9. Jessica Green says:

    I work in an industry that takes me in to banks after hours. I would see Alvin asleep in the enterance and also bang to make sure he was ok. My mother works for SPS and knew Alvin quite well. As mom and I were leaving the Taste of Sask a couple summers ago we walked toward him. I said “Mom I always see that man in banks at night”. As we approached him she said “Hi Alvin” and he gave her an excited smile and said “Hi”. As we walked on my Mom told me he was such a regular and that they basically had a friendship too. Lol.

    I’m sure he would be pleased that you took your time to tell your story of him. And proud to call you friend as well!

  10. Dan Clapson says:

    One of the nicest things I’ve read in awhile. Love this.

  11. louis barrette says:

    met alvin couple of times sitting on the benches 3rd ave and 25st mac’s he was easy to talk to. i guess he is in a better place now.. beat cops will find someone else to look after.

  12. truely touched says:

    Awe, that was sych a deep interesting article to read about, an compassion for another well being. I guve you kudos, we need more positive role models like you in tbe police force. A man that dudnt judge, reached out with an helping hand to another. Its pretty inspiring for others out there to read this article. Bless Alvins soul and yours too, the policeman. :’)

  13. Shelley Csenar says:

    What a GREAT STORY! It just goes to show what a AWESOME Police Force we have in Saskatoon! They do care about what happens to all residents of our WONDERFUL city!!

  14. Brenda says:

    Great story, glad to see the human side of our police force!

  15. Nancy McIntyre says:

    I understand! Years ago I volunteered and I would have my share of contact with homeless people. I knew one named Sydney who would come for help every now&.His appearance startled women and children. He was a rough boy! He and I would talk and I grew very fond of him. On one visit, to show me his appreciation, he gave me the only token he had to part with-a bottle opener that must have been very old! I thanked him and put it on my key chain and it stays there to this day! Sidney died not long after..

  16. Lisa says:

    What a heart warming story. Thank you for sharing this with us. It brought a tear to my eye. To the officers who treated this man with dignity and respect, Well Done!!!!!!

  17. Thank you for sharing a truly moving story.
    Sadly, there are thousands of other men and women living similar existences.
    I am sure, that as a boy, Alvin dreamt like any other child. To be an athlete, artist, astronaut or adventurer. What begets the tragedy of alcoholism/addiction and or a life on the street has a myriad of origins. How do we reconcile the cracks that must exist in our society which result in countless lives lost to addictions and mental illness? From childhood to the street corner should never be the life path of any person. The care he received from the author probably made his life the most normal it would ever be. For that I am thankful for those who work on the front lines going beyond the “job” to consider that former child, Alvin, who once hoped and dreamt of a wonderful life.

  18. Edie Venne says:

    This story gives me hope that there are caring, compassionate souls out there who care for people like ALvin. RIP Alvin and thank you Chess for sharing.

  19. Jacqui says:

    Such a great story, thank you for sharing. I knew Alvin. I work for one of the financial institutions downtown, and met with Alvin on a weekly basis. He would wait specifically for my wicket to open so that we could talk. He was such an interesting person and it’s sad to hear of his passing. He is in a better place now.

  20. Ruby Couillonneur says:

    Thank you for your sharing your story, it is very heart warming. Rest in peace Alvin.

  21. Tracey says:

    Very nice tribute, Chess… The beat will be a bit more lonely for you now…

  22. Debra Clark says:

    Thank you for sharing and for caring…we have a loved one on the streets and its so nice to know others care.

  23. Char says:

    What a heart warming story! Thanks to Chess for writing! I have seen Alvin down town. I wish that all police officers were this caring. Few and far between. I hope Alvin finds peace.

  24. Ian Colvine says:

    Thank you for sharing this and thank you for all you do. Rest in peace Alvin.

  25. Dynelda Deitner says:

    You brought tears to my eyes….what a beautiful tribute to such a Legacy. It’s people like you Chess, who make this a better world for all the Alvin’s out there.

  26. Valerie Harriott says:

    What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  27. Elisabeth Ward says:

    A heart warming story. I am so grateful that our police officers treat people like Alvin with respect, help them out and allow them their dignity. Thanks to the Saskatoon Police Officers who daily assist people like Alvin.

  28. Vee Abbott says:

    I read the story, “The Trouble With Alvin.” What a way to choose to live. How many others are out there somewhere? It really bothered me reading about him. I’m glad he doesn’t have to suffer any more.

  29. Very nice Report about an Individual. I met a lot of Alvins at my Years at the Streets as an Officer . If you treat them with Respect, you get the same from them. If walk to him as an BigBoss you never get it.
    At Germany we have an epigraph:
    ” Wie man es in den Wald hineinruft, so kommt es auch wieder heraus”
    … it means How do you called it into the Forrest, it comes back out.
    Greetings from Germany and farewell Alvin – Chris

  30. Andrew Jansen says:

    Great blog post. One night many years back we were driving home and saw a man laying face down in the grass on Preston close to the field house. We pulled around to check on him and called him some help. When the police showed up they were both elated once they saw him and said, “Alvin where have you been? We haven’t seen you in a while!” RIP Alvin

  31. Ms. Ronni Shilson says:

    My neighbour and I take a walk every day and it is amazing that you pass the same people every day but you never really see them. One day as we were walking along Alvin passed by and said “Good Day” and kept on walking. It was then that I realized that we pass him every day and had never really seen him. From that day on we always exchanged good days. Not once did he ever ask for a thing. One day when we were sitting in Tim Horton’s I saw him walking along the sidewalk and then he sat down in the snow. I said to my friend that I was going to bring him a coffee when we leave. A security guard from somewhere made him move and I couldn’t find him to find out how he liked his coffee. It was a Sunday about 2 or 3 weeks ago and I hadn’t seen him since then. Thanks for the great story about him and I will always remember my “Good day” friend.

  32. tash says:

    this is an absolutly amazing story! and very heart warming! just makes all the little things in big things. and know that we should appreaciate others more. Cops do actually do alot more than most give them credit.

  33. John E Parry says:

    RIP Alvin, thanks Ches for a lovely article

  34. John Woodley says:

    I walked the beat in the late 70’s, Alvin and his brothers cut a wide swath, and they did like to fight. Over the last several years Alvin was the only one left, I would see him all over downtown, I would stop and buy him a hot dog and coffee from the red bus by the Bess, and sit for a while and chat, People would walk by and have puzzled looks on their faces. Alvin looked scary to most but the years had taken their toll. He would lament that he was the last one of his family left, he was lonely. RIP Alvin.
    Walking the beat is a great way to police, yes you cant respond as fast to incidents but you are close to the community, Keep up the great work.

  35. lois mitchell says:

    what a beautiful tribute..thanks for doing this. ..I am printing it for Chicadee..was there..or is there a wake?

  36. Pearleen Lachhab says:

    I didn’t know him. Thanks to all of you who looked after this man. Many blessings.

  37. Daniel Caswell says:

    I interacted with Alvin more than a few times at City Centre church, also i would see him out and about, we would say hi to each other. I know he is in a better place. thanks for writing this tribute

  38. Noreen Wensley says:

    What an honour to read this lovely tribute. No doubt he taught you many things, and helped you to become a better police officer and human being. Everyone who enters our lives comes for a reason, and there are lessons to be learned. I am thrilled that you touched his life, and he touched yours in return.

  39. K.Anderson says:

    You are a good man, Chess, and it sounds like you work with others who are compassionate, too. Something to headline in the newspapers for a change, instead of the depressing opposite!

  40. Trudy Schan says:

    Its wonderful to know that there are such kind police officers walking the streets of Saskatoon. One with respect and compassion for a fellow human being. I have heard so many terrible things about the Saskatoon Police. Thank you for writing your story and sharing your experience with the world. Thank you for sharing love and compassion freely. Thank you for being you.
    Trudy Schan

  41. Doris says:

    Just when you think there is nothing about our city police to be proud of, with all the bad stuff you hear about them. I personally am very happy to know there are still police officers who do care about the public. I just wish there were more like the officer who went out of his way to help Alvin. I am happy you are part of the Saskatoon Police Service we need more officers who care about our more unfortunate citizens who some forget are human too. Thank You for being a friend.

  42. eileen says:

    What a wonderful story to hear such caring for another love it !!

  43. Stoonwelder says:

    Well done officer! Show a lot of respect for people of all life, specially because of the reputation of the department. sorry for the lost of your friend. We need more police like you! I’m sure he enjoyed your chats aswell.

  44. James says:

    One more reason to be proud of SPS.

  45. Cindy Blakley says:

    Very touching story Derek. Your story brought a tear to my eye. I feel thru your eyes I almost knew him myself. Keep up the good work

  46. Shelly VanB says:

    Thank you for sharing Alvin’s story. I only knew him “in passing”…literally. We would chat once in a while and I agree, there were times he really just wanted someone to talk to. Thank you for remind all of us that we should be kind, for everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle.
    Much respect for you today.
    Thank you.

  47. D M Ferguson says:

    I followed Alvins story after my cousin forwarded me the original article on Alvin from the Star Phoenix. Even then I was in such awe & humbled by the friendship extended to Alvin by those members of SPS. So often I’ve seen Officers/Teachers/Social Workers jaded by the sadness they’ve encountered when working with our Alvins. You made me cry…with appreciation. Knowing this one (often faceless) man had found humanity where others doubt it exists.

    Lest we forget….the reasons/compassion/care we all should have for the Alvins of our society. Why there are so many Alvins, that they too are someone’s Mushum/Father/Brother/Uncle. That possibly some of us have our own Alvins in our family. I don’t have anger for those that easily judge our Alvins…I pity them for allowing themselves to have less humanity for their own perceptions. My profound sympathies for his family & for the members of Saskatoon Police Service that became Alvins friends – who’ve shown us all that humanity & compassion can be found behind the badge.
    You humble me. Thank you.

  48. Candace Lamb says:

    What a great story!

  49. Roland Schoepf says:

    That was a brilliant story! Thanks for letting Alvin’s personality and character shine! You bring a wonderful presence to those who police Saskatoon’s streets and communities!

  50. susanpiska says:

    Very touching and heartwarming story , I knew who Alvin was , had seen him many times downtown and his last days were in ICU at St Pauls Hospital and I can assure you he was very well taken care of and on one of his better days while he was sitting up in a chair , he was back to his himself for just a bit , smiled and winked , told me I was a hardworking woman , sister and him and I just laughed , He will be missed and I know he is in a happier place now , RIP Alvin

  51. Lynn says:

    Thank you for sharing and caring for this man the way you, and your fellow Offiers did. It’s great to hear you gave him some of your time, which was more important than anything else you did for him. R.I.P. Alvin, may you find peace, happieness and freedom.

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  54. Renee Stephen (MCS 1993) says:

    The article on Alvin and excerpts from your blog made it into the Toronto Star. Always interested in news from back home, I clicked and read the article to find that the heart-felt tribute was written by Cst. Derek Chesney. Not sure how many Derek Chesneys there are in the world but regardless of whether this is, indeed, is the same “Chess” I went to high school with, I would like to commend you for your work and compassion toward Alvin. I am sure there have been many others like him who have benefitted from your humanity; the Saskatoon Police Service is the better for having you among their ranks.

  55. Carter says:

    I’ve seen him around downtown a lot as well, great to hear that he had a good relationship with the SPS and that you took the time to listen and care.

  56. Sarah says:

    Thank you for your kindness towards Alvin. I can hear his laughter through your words. I am not from SK but this story warmed my heart and I had to say thank you for the kindness and understanding that you provided him. Alvin’s story is like so many of my Fist Nation brother and sisters and I can only dream that more people are as understanding as you. I pray that your kindness will be embraced by others. Nya;weh

  57. Adrian says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a man whose death others might have tossed aside without a second thought.

    Thank you for sharing.

  58. Alexandra Ximenez says:

    Amazing story… cryin’.

  59. Manas Shukla says:

    It makes me feel happy and more secure knowing that this nation has a Police Force that possesses compassion and intelligence, that reserves a sense of honor and understanding for even the people who have fallen on unfortunate times and ways. If I ever find myself in Saskatoon I’ll make sure to bring you guys some Coffee and Donuts to show you my appreciation. Keep up the awesome work.

  60. Anna says:

    I never post comments on blogs but this genuine encounter above just brought me to tears. Rest in peace.

  61. Yee says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for your service. Rest in Peace Alvin.

  62. daystar bird says:

    What an inspiring story, sorry to hear of the loss of your friend

  63. Andreas J says:

    a wonderful tribute to a guy how got in a wrong path from the beginning,,

    R.I.P Alvin I hope you have it better up there with the other angels.

  64. Peter Hansen says:

    From Seattle-

    A very beautiful and touching story.Thank you for sharing.

  65. Don Young says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. You are an excellent writer and, I’m sure, an even better Police Officer. Perhaps you might consider doing some professional writing ? Short stories? Observations from your patrols? Insights into the men and women you encounter? You have a voice that Canadians should hear. Good luck and best wishes.

  66. Paul says:

    We all have a limited time to do an act of kindness, however small, for each other. Thanks for sharing your portrait of Alvin.

  67. TC says:

    Meegwetch <3

  68. Andrea says:

    My uncle became schizophrenic very late in life and ran away to live on the streets. He was such a kind and wonderful person and to ‘lose’ him in his 70s was heartbreaking for everyone. Many times we tried to bring him home and he would always run away again.
    I hope that he was treated with the dignity and respect that you gave Alvin. This gives me hope that he didn’t die alone and without friends. Thank you.

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  70. David Weaver says:

    To Cst. Derek Chesney………
    I am a Corrections Officer for the state of Pennsylvania. I deal with ornery and recalcitrant criminals like Alvin each day. And I deal with them in a professional manner as you do. So when I saw that article about Alvin, it struck a chord inside me. You are a wonderful and compassionate officer.
    Sometimes all it takes is to step back, look a situation over, and humanize the situation. In my profession, a lot of the time that is the best thing to do.

    You have earned respect from me, in my eyes. We cannot always deal with all situations like this, but rather in a manner of “force meeting an equal force”, meaning sometimes we have to take it to the ones who take it to US……

    God speed and good luck to you, Cst. Derek Chesney.
    Please stay safe in all you do.
    Walk tall knowing you are a good human being who does the right thing on each patrol you do….

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  73. Wow, why can’t all officers be like Constale Chesney, who clearly has a huge heart and never lost his morals, and code of ethics which seems to happens alot to officers. What he wrote, and the way he treated Alvin is admirable, and warms my heart. No, this man was not societies idea of what a person should be, but at some point in his early life, it seems society failed him. This man had more pain than he ever deserved, I just wish someone could have been there then, I wish the abuse he suffered didnt cause him to hurt for the rest of his time here on earth. People are monsters, and if you ever get the chance to meet someone like Alvin, who despite being abused, and despite having a harder life than most he still had a lions heart, a true fighter..the world will break your heart ten ways to sunday, thats guaranteed. But when you have people like these surrounding you, you have a fighting chance. Bless you Mr. Chesney, and your fellow officers who seen the good in him, despite what the outside looked like. We should all take a lesson from this. RIP Alvin Cote

  74. DaveS55 says:

    You have to take the time to engage and show the human side like CST -officer in this article did. Everyone out there is somebodies, sister, brother, father, mother, grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousin, friend. Officer’s like these are well tuned to whats going on in their sector beat also and therefore have an impact on crime and crime prevention (sometimes not but not for the lack of interaction). They have character credibility with those they deal with due to character, empathy and compassion in up holding the law in a non-judgmental manner. Inspiring story for the human side often not shown or talked about…Many of the downtown beats have officer’s of this mold as they are footbeat, bike, parks and bars… Sort of like the old town drunks we had when I was growing up. We would put a $5 bill at one guys feet and ask did you drop this? He would reach into his pocket and poke a hole and say ya must have fell out…:-) Cst. Derek Chesney… thank you and stay safe!
    God bless nothing wrong with the tears as he left his mark on you also, and spirit can never be taken ever walk with the wind and sunshine on your shoulders!
    Dave- Kukani Tiya

  75. Hobbygirl68 says:

    Thanks for sharing a story that breaks down materialism and social standing, and reminds us of our core responsibility as humans to be compassionate and care for each other as Christ taught. Hearing stories such as this restores my faith in humanity. God Bless,
    Arlene…Thunder Bay, Ontario

  76. Autumn says:

    Thank you for writing this tribute, and for caring about Alvin. The world is a better place because of people like you.

  77. Donald says:

    Kudos’s and accolades to the officers of the Police force. RIP Alvin

  78. Rozeeta says:

    What a heartbreaking and beautiful story. I know after working in the social service field how easy it can be to loose empathy/sympathy for someone like Alvin, but it’s beautiful to see the humanity and compassion the Saskatoon police showed him.
    I hope like stated in his eulogy that he finds the peace he so rightly deserves.

  79. Kenneth G says:

    Dear Officer Chess –

    I thought of the following scripture from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, verse 40, after reading your inspiring account of your dealings with this troubled individual:

    “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (ESV)

    God bless you my friend, from an FBI agent in the US. Stay safe.

  80. Pingback: Death of Beloved Town Drunk Reduces Canadian Cops to Tears » Angry Monks

  81. The police have been working under some very difficult conditions for the past while because of public opinion. This is largely in part I believe, due to the media misrepresenting police departments as a whole. I strongly support the good things police do and was happy to read this story.

  82. CC says:

    This is a really interesting blog post about your personal experience as a police officer. It is heart-warming to know that there was no “starlight tours” for Alvin and that you looked after him.

    However, (isn’t there always a “but”) I was disappointed with your statement that Alvin “chose to make the street his home.” If Alvin had a choice I’m sure he would have rather been in a temperature-controlled home. Alcoholism is an illness and he lived on the street for so long it became all he knew. These are not choices, but non-negotiable circumstances. Mental illness and self-medication are not choices. Anyone who has a family member with mental illness and/or alcoholism knows that these are not choices, I hope that police officers understand this as well. I know your intentions are in the right place, resulting in your kindnesses, but it’s important to UNDERSTAND where people who live on the street are coming from.

    Keep on loving and not fighting!

  83. Laura says:

    Thank you so much for sharing – this was powerful, beautiful and I was quite moved by it. Thank you for honoring his story and understanding that “bad things that happened to Alvin in his past to push him to lead the life that he led,”. Thank you for caring.

  84. Holly Geddes says:

    I read this story last year…however I come back to re-read it just to remind me to have compassion and understanding for all people. Thank you once again to SPS for your kindness to an old “fighter”.

  85. tracy says:

    Yes it is a wonderful story, and growing up in Saskatoon I have had my share of run in with the police as well, with my father passing last year they are helping our family, and yes there are good police officers out there. Hats off the this officer whom befriended “Alvin” and R.I.P. Alvin.

  86. Kimberly says:

    This is such a warm hearted blog, I love it…so impressed with Cst. Chesney..We don’t find much people like you now days that would take the time to sit and chat with a “native” so overly impressed, especially that he was a older guy and you all took the time out to check on him…this is so wonderful, good job on you all…Alvin seemed like a all round good guy just staying touch and protecting himself, like a lot of people that live on the street you have to stay touch and protect yourself…nice job guys

  87. Harris Sutherland says:

    This was such a touching story. Thank you. It is story’s like this that renew my faith in humanity and our beautiful province.

    I pride myself in being a fair and impartial individual, but after reading your story, I know I am not doing enough to make this province great and hope I onw day get to run into you and buy you coffee or dinner just to be in the presence of a true angel. God bless

  88. T. Pawluk says:

    Cst Derek Cherney: I am sure Alvin will be watching over you!!!! Great job. Should be more like you ouy there!!!!!!! God Bless!!

  89. Jeanette says:

    I met Alvin on several occasions, as he used to sit on the bench at the office I worked at…he was an interesting man, sometimes a little scary, but usually just wanted to talk…or ask for change. There were a couple of times that he thanked me for listening to him and always called me “pretty lady”…sad to hear of his passing.

  90. Mark says:

    Such a great read with such a sad ending. Great to see other kind souls in the S’toon City Police still exist. They were extremely kind in how they dealt with me when i lost my mother back home while in the city visiting. The escort i recieved thru the city was greatly appreciated. As a city you should be proud of the job and humanity they extend to locals and visitors alike.

  91. Lori Grobb says:

    What a beautiful friendship! It’s nice to hear that we have such a compassionate police officer who really cares!

  92. Wilma Linklater says:

    I saw Alvin a few times sleeping on a bench behind an apartment building on fifth avenue. Once, when he had just woken up from his peaceful slumber, he noticed me and asked if I might help him with,”bus fare” So, I gave him $5.00 to catch his,”bus.” He may have battled addictions, but he was human, just like the rest of us. Thank you for showing such empathy Cst. C.

  93. Jenna Daniels says:

    Beautiful!! This is truly inspiring.

  94. Rennie says:

    Thanks for this article and for your acceptance, kindness, & friendship toward Alvin. Everyone deserves to matter.

  95. Tara says:

    I knew Alvin when I worked in the food court down town mall 20 + years ago. Usually intoxicated, hungry , disruptive, on late nights he sometimes would follow me around the the food court while I was trying to close up for the night. I could see Alvin was quite intelligent. Countless times as I would be was washing trays he was escorted out by mall security and or police. It’s nice to see that someone cares that someone steps up to make a difference on the streets.

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