By Charles Hamilton, The StarPhoenix January 9, 2014 - When Const. Derek Chesney wrote a heartfelt tribute to one of Saskatoon’s most recognizable street people, Alvin Cote, he had no idea the world was reading. Chesney, who patrols the streets on foot as a beat cop working the city’s busy central district, was named “Most Valuable Cop” by Slate, an online current affairs and culture magazine based in the U.S., in its First Annual Crime Awards.
Chesney was honoured for a blog post he wrote about Cote, who was a homeless alcoholic and a fixture on Chesney’s downtown beat. Cote passed away in April.
“I found out today that Alvin passed away a few days ago and, I admit, I feel an emptiness,” Chesney wrote shortly after he learned of Cote’s death.
In their list of crime awards, Slate praised Chesney for “reminding us that cops can be as soft-hearted as anyone else.”
Chesney says he was surprised and honoured by the award.
“I would say for the most part whenever you see police in the media a lot of time it’s negative. You don’t see the positive stuff that we do day in and day out,” he said in interview.
Chesney said he never imagined Cote’s story making headlines nationally, never mind a national magazine south of the border. While he is surprised at the award, he says he is grateful that Alvin’s story touched so many people.
“Everybody has a story. Whether it's our mayor, a politician, a police officer or a journalist or a someone living on the street. We all have stories and there are reasons we end up in the places we do,” Chesney said.