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Updated: 6th January 2019 17:05

Ex-athletes swell Calgary police ranks

Next time you get a ticket from a Calgary police officer, the signature might be the autograph of a former professional athlete— the CPS is packed with ex-players who have traded their team colours to wear black and blue.

Next time you get a ticket from a Calgary police officer, the signature might be the autograph of a former professional athlete.

Calgary police Const. Kevin Francis, centre, was a famous soccer star in his native England before he joined the force. (The Football League)There are about three dozen members of the force who used to play sports for a living, including a rugby player from New Zealand, an ex-Stampeder, and two former NHLers, and an ex-member of the national women's hockey team.

In the 1990s Const. Kevin Francis was an English soccer star with Stockport County.

And his dedicated fans included Dan Harrison, who was shocked to realize his favourite player now lives in the city.

"My room was a shrine to the team. He was the star player, so I had a poster of him on the wall. I had his name and number on my jersey," Harrison said.

Francis gave up his striker position to play more of a defender, patrolling the streets of Calgary in a cruiser. And he often gets recognized, he said. 

"More than I thought I would do, yeah. It's not just the English who come over and visit. There's also a large football community here as well. The word spread through there as well," he said.

Being part of the police force is just like being on a team, said Const. Tony Stiles, who used to play hockey for the Calgary Flames and Canada's national team.

"You work with a very close-knit group of people, it's a high stress environment at times and sometimes it isn't. So you got to make your own fun," he said.

"So it's kind of indicative of a team atmosphere that goes on in the dressing room and on road trips. So I think that's what attracts a lot of former athletes."

Const. Steve Kelly, who retired from the New Jersey Devils, agreed.

"You get here and know some of the guys. It's quite a team atmosphere. It's very similar to being in the dressing room and playing a team sport," he said.

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