HIGH RIVER, Alta. - A slain Alberta peace officer was remembered Friday as a brilliant undercover Mountie who once bunked with child killer Clifford Olson and went after dangerous drug dealers on Vancouver's skid row.
Rod Lazenby, a 62-year-old retired RCMP officer, was responsible for enforcing bylaws in the Municipal District of Foothills. He died Aug. 10 after going to a property southwest of Calgary to investigate a dog complaint.
Retired RCMP Sgt. Major Hugh Stewart told a memorial service in High River that Lazenby joined the drug squad after he served as a military policeman. He was quickly recruited to go undercover to target heroin traffickers in Vancouver.
"I don't care where you go. I don't care where you've been — that's the meanest street in the world," said Stewart.
"The man had courage that was beyond belief. You can look at "The Bourne Conspiracy" and all the movie actors in the world and if they screw it up they get to do a remake," he said.
"If an undercover officer like Rod Lazenby screwed it up, he was dead," he added.
Another high-profile assignment had him sharing a cell with Olson after his arrest in 1981.
More than 700 police officers and emergency personnel from across the country marched in a two-block-long parade to honour Lazenby, whose boots and uniform were laid atop a riderless horse. Bagpipes skirled in the background.
A few hundred others joined the crowed for the service at the Highwood Memorial Centre. Inside, a display featured several photos, some of a younger Lazenby standing in his RCMP uniform.
The details of his death have not been officially disclosed. But Mounties have said that following his visit to the dog property he was dropped off at a Calgary police station in "medical distress." He died later that day in hospital.
The man who lived on the property, 46-year-old Trevor Kloschinsky, has been charged with first-degree murder.
Lazenby's death has ignited a debate about whether peace officers should be allowed to carry guns.
Alberta Solicitor General Jonathan Denis, who attended the memorial, has indicated his department is reviewing its policies for peace officers, including whether they should work in pairs and be allowed to carry side arms.
The killing is believed to be the first death of a peace officer in the province.
"This is a tough situation for all of us. This is a first-time event for all of the community peace officers in the province," said RCMP Const. Mike Young, who travelled from Swift Current, Sask., to pay his respects.
He said Lazenby's death hits close to home because he worked as a peace officer in the nearby Municipal District of Rockyview before becoming a Mountie.
Insp. Nina Vaughan of the Calgary police said it is important for law enforcement members to pay their respects when one of their own is killed on the job.
"We're all part of a brotherhood or a sisterhood and I think it's important for everybody to be together," she said.
Lazenby was a Mountie for 35 years before he retired in 2006. He then started working for the Foothills district.
Friend and co-worker Geoff Carpenter, the protective services co-ordinator for the Municipal District of Foothills, said he received calls, letters, emails and texts from across Canada and even the United States after the killing.
He said everyone is still in shock.
"We know that any time you are in an enforcement capacity, there's always the potential things can happen. I think anybody dealing with the public can potentially have an issue," he said.
"We just didn't expect it to happen."
Carpenter said Lazenby chose to move to High River after his retirement from the RCMP to be closer to his daughter and her children. He said Lazenby was a family-oriented man who kept physically active. He played hockey and competed as a swimmer in the senior games.
Meghan McLean told the service she will remember her father as a loving man with a great sense of humour.
"'See you later dad — love you' was the last thing I said to my dad the day before he was suddenly and tragically taken from us — from me," McLean said softly.
"He was a father who was a hero to his little girl and an irreplaceable friend and confidant to his grown daughter."