By Renee Rodgers
It takes a lot to faze Belleville Chief of Police Cory McMullan – but she admits a gift she recently received from an elderly lady “floored” her.
Dorothy Ellis approached McMullan a few months ago at a community event, introduced herself, and offered her the hat badge Ellis’ late husband had received as a present when he retired as a sergeant from the Belleville Police Service in 1973.
“It just made my heart pound,” said McMullan of the gesture.
Ellis was concerned that since neither she nor her late husband had any living relatives, the hat badge would end up overlooked and tossed aside after she passed away. Ellis gave the badge, which bears the number one, to Belleville Police so it would be kept out of harm’s way.
Ellis was recognized for her donation during a ceremony held by the Belleville Police Service May 16 to honour community members for their contributions to the detachment. The ceremony was held as a way to kick off Police Week, being held across Ontario May 15 – 21, as well as to celebrate Belleville Police’s 175 years of service to the community. Constable Miranda Orr led the ceremony.
While the Belleville Police Service has recognized members of the community before, it was the first time a ceremony was held solely to recognize citizens.
During the ceremony, McMullan told about 30 audience members of how Ellis’ husband Doug arrived in Belleville from Liverpool in 1927, looking to get out of a dwindling auto industry. He joined the Belleville Police in 1936, with a starting salary of $100 per month.
In a speech, Ellis told the audience of her husband’s fondness for his hat badge.
“When Doug retired, he received many gifts, but among them was his badge. His badge was a thing that he really liked.”
Ellis said the day her husband retired, he left his hat badge on a chest of drawers. That’s where the badge stayed until Ellis donated it.
While McMullan could not confirm the exact significance of the number one on the badge, Ellis did tell the audience the number suited her late husband.
“He was number one, as I think he was known by everybody in the city of Belleville and region,” she said.
Ellis said he husband was stern, but well respected within the force.
“He certainly enjoyed the fellowship with the officers,” she said. “And I know he was strict but they still loved him just the same.”
Three other citizens were recognized during the ceremony. All three were presented with the Chief of Police Award of Excellence, an award that commenced last year.
The first award recipient was Dr. William Bates, a coroner who, for years, has worked closely with the Belleville Police. Orr sad Bates has worked late nights, holidays, and weekends.
“His compassion and quick response have been a calming agent in the healing process of everyone affected by a loss of a loved one,” Orr said.
The next recipient was historian Gerry Boyce, who has been leading a team of researchers in revamping the history section of the Belleville Police’s website.
“Gerry’s work ensures facts and side notes are preserved for future generations,” said Orr.
The third recipient was Matthew Palmer, who has been volunteering with community policing programs since 2008. Palmer has assisted at events including waterfront festivals, Canada Day festivals, bike rodeos, car wash fundraises, “Lock It or Lose It”, kids fishing derbies, Child ID, and the Special Olympics.
“Matt shows a sincere interest in being part of his community by volunteering when he can,” Orr said.
Dorothy Ellis was presented with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Belleville Police for the donation of her husband’s hat badge.
The badge has been affixed to a plaque, which includes an inscription. It will be displayed at the Belleville police station on Dundas Street.
“It’s something that will be here for the community, for the police service, forever,” said McMullan. “It’s a piece of our history we didn’t know was out there, that we will be able to maintain now.”