“I like it. It’s a new challenge. It’s somewhat similar to hockey where you have teammates to rely on.”
That from Constable Denny Lambert, speaking to SooToday upon receiving Anishinabek Police Service (APS) Peace Officer of the Year honours at the 2019 Crime Stoppers of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District Peace Officer Awards Wednesday.
A familiar face to hockey fans, Lambert made the roster for the 1988-1989 Soo Greyhounds, going on to play a 489-game, nine-season career in the NHL, playing for the Nashville Predators, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Ottawa Senators before returning to the Sault to begin his coaching career with the Soo Greyhounds, serving as the team’s coach from 2008 to 2011.
After leaving hockey and deciding to begin a new career in law enforcement, heading off to Ontario Police College (OPC) at age 42 in 2012, Lambert remarked “I would have rather fought Bob Probert (NHL tough guy) than do this college thing,” not having attended school since Grade 12.
Born in Wawa, Lambert moved to the Sault when he was 13.
“That’s where my hockey career started. I wanted to pursue hockey, and I was very fortunate.”
“I thank God for the gift He gave me and being able to play in nearly 500 NHL games, and now He’s given me another gift of being able to go back to school at 42 years old, but He got me through it and I’m fortunate to be an officer with the Anishinabek Police.”
A Sault resident, he works for APS in Garden River and is a member of Batchewana First Nation, Lambert having received his 2019 award for exemplary service.
“I like helping people,” Lambert said.
“I like community policing. I’m not out there just to find trouble, but to help people. If they’ve done something wrong I like to help them by explaining to them what they’ve done wrong and if they learn from it, awesome. I think that type of policing, talking and communicating, is more effective and people really respond well to it.”
The most challenging part of his job?
“It’s seeing accidents where there are major injuries, and anything to do with kids is a touchy thing for me,” Lambert said.
A particularly difficult call for Lambert was one which involved a suicide.
The only officer working at the time, he was handling two assaults in progress and called for support. Upon arrival at the scene, he and another officer conducted CPR for 20 minutes before paramedics arrived.
“There are some things that are hard to see and hard to deal with, but in general you keep the mindset of you’re there to help people, help communities, and if you keep that mindset, you’ll be fine. If you’re helping people, you feel good inside.”
Lambert expressed gratitude for the support of his wife and two sons as he performs his police duties, adding he still loves hockey and takes part in recreational games.
Other 2019 Crime Stoppers of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District Peace Officer Award winners included:
- Superintendent Patrick Deschene, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
- Constable Mark Virtanen, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Community Crisis Response Team (CCRT)
- Constable Phil Young, OPP East Algoma detachment, stationed in Elliot Lake
- Steve Trudeau, Algoma Treatment and Remand Centre (ATRC) correctional officer
- Mike Hamilton, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) conservation officer
- Constable Mark Allison, RCMP
- Constable Henry Jin, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, who received the Crime Stoppers Law Enforcement Award for his years of service with Crime Stoppers of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District
- The Elettra Marconi Society, which received the Crime Stoppers Community Support Award, the group having donated $2,000 to Crime Stoppers of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma