October 21, 2016

British Columbia Electric Railway Special Constable to be honoured

An officer who was part of Transit Police’s origins was killed on duty over 100 years ago, and he will be honoured in September as part of the BC Law Enforcement Memorial.


Charles Painter was employed as a night watchman and held the office of Special Constable for the British Columbia Electric Railway Company (BCER). In the early hours of Friday, March 19th 1915 while on duty on Willow Street in Vancouver, he saw a man approaching carrying a bundle of wire. Believing the wire to be stolen, he challenged the man and arrested him. A struggle ensued and Special Constable Painter’s revolver was taken from him and he was shot in the abdomen before the suspect escaped.


Charles Painter succumbed to complications resulting from his wound a few days later after providing a statement to police. While contemporaneous media reports connected a man who was later brought to trial in Seattle for the murder of two people in that city, no charges were ever bought in the case of Special Constable Charles Painter. He was laid to rest in a now unmarked grave in Mountain View cemetery, Vancouver.


While Metro Vancouver Transit Police may only be just over a decade old it can trace its roots back to the turn of the 20th Century. Research has unearthed a great deal of information about how policing and security of the hydro lines and transit in those early days of the last century evolved into our modern day police service. We can thank Constable Graham Walker for researching much of what we know about the evolution of our organization.


This research included the discovery of Special Constable Charles Painter’s death while carrying out his duties. Further research showed that his death was not recorded on the BC Law Enforcement Memorial (BCLEM) Honour Roll although he qualified for inclusion.


Following an application to the BCLEM for the recognition of Special Constable Charles Painter, we are pleased to announce that the application has been accepted. Special Constable Charles Painter will be remembered along with RCMP Cst. Sarah Beckett at the annual BC Law Enforcement Memorial event at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park, Sunday, September 25, 2016 at 1:00pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.


Visit bclem.ca for more details.

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