When Barrie Police homicide detective Scott Aldridge talks about his first sudden death, his voice gets just a little bit quiet.
He was a rookie cop with Peel Regional Police where he started his nearly 30 year career.
“It was an 8-year-old boy who got killed at the Beaver Lumber at Dixie and Burnamthorpe,” recalls Aldridge. “A cart fell on him when he was with his grandfather and because I was the only single guy I had to stay with the boy at the hospital while his father came in and identified him."
Aldridge joined Peel Regional Police in 1988 after three years in the infantry.
He was with Peel for nearly 19 years before he moved with his wife and son to Barrie in 2000 and joined Barrie Police in 2006.
“I grew up in Etobicoke and when I took our son to school for the first day it reminded me of the school I went to in Etobicoke and I was like oh my god. I thought this is great,” Aldridge said of Barrie.
“Like any city, it gets bigger, there’s more traffic. It’s still a small town kind of feel. I know the lady at the coffee shop. I know the guy at the grocery store. It’s kind of neat.”
The first part of his career was mainly in uniform but he worked on a couple of homicides in Peel and was involved in two police shootings.
“In 1993, a guy robbed a flea market on the Lakeshore in Mississauga and he was shot by us,” he said, recounting one of the incidents. “My son had just been born. I just signed the mortgage for our house that same week. It was pretty overwhelming the whole experience.”
Aldridge has been in the sexual assault and child abuse unit and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) where he investigated organized crime including the gangland hit of boxer and mob enforcer 'Hurricane' Eddie Melo in 2001.
“It was very interesting work,” he said. “In Barrie, very interesting work too. I’ve been lucky to work on some pretty big cases.”
What he describes as ‘probably the worst year’ was when he was in ‘audit’ doing administrative work.
From there he joined the Barrie Police Homicide Unit in 2013 where he enjoys the people he works with and the work.
“I like the challenge of solving the puzzle," Aldridge said. "You’re dealing with terrible situations but the challenge is you get to give some family closure and that’s how I see it. So it’s very rewarding.”
The hardest part?
“You have to share in every family’s grief and you have to try and stay distant from it or you wouldn’t be able to do your job. You just have to think to yourself, if I fall apart who’s going be strong for this family to get them through."
Support from his family and golfing help him cope.
“Just try to do things you enjoy. Some people call it a briefcase. I call it like a steamer trunk. I just put it in the back there and I close the trunk down and I don’t think about it," he explains.
"The strange thing about this profession is it really reminds you of your own mortality because you’re faced with it every day. Going to these sudden deaths. People that are hanging themselves or the fentanyl overdoses. So you have to really be comfortable in your own skin and be able to deal with it.”
Technology has been a game-changer for cops, especially when it comes to tracking killers.
"Our side of the investigation is more technical now. The last one (murder case) was phones. You have to get all the data. The production orders for the phones. You have to have someone who can decipher all this stuff."
Aldridge will mark 30 years on the job in Feb. 2018 and is looking to retire.
"It wears on you. Thirty years of dealing with other people’s issues," said Aldridge.
He plans to make up to his family for all the holidays and birthdays he missed during those three decades.
"They’re the ones that put up with the stuff. It's their turn. They can have a piece of me for a while," he joked.