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Police and Fire News

Baltimore County Police and Fire News

Official News Blog of Baltimore County police, fire, homeland security and emergency management. Call 911 to report crimes in progress and emergencies.
Keyword: line of duty

This is the text of Police Chief Jim Johnson's Police Memorial Day message delivered this morning at the annual Police Memorial Ceremony at Patriot Plaza in Towson.

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Good morning, everyone. Today we gather, as we do each year on the second Friday in May, to remember the nine members of the Baltimore County Police Department family who have given their lives in service to others.

Their names are inscribed on our hearts and in our memories, just as they are on the monument before us. This is a time to recollect who these men were as people – their smiles … their unique personalities … their attributes as husbands, fathers, sons and friends.

Mostly, of course, this is a time to reflect on their sacrifice and of the selflessness of others like them, including the two NYPD officers murdered last December by a man who began his path of violence here in our county. They were targeted simply because they were policemen. In ordinary times, we focus on the honor of such sacrifice – on the awe-inspiring wonder of human beings brave and generous enough to die for others.

But these are not ordinary times. We find ourselves caught up in a storm of controversy over the role of law enforcement in 21st century society. The fires of discontent that blazed last summer in a Midwestern town have spread to our own doorstep. Baltimore – the city to which we are tethered by history and geography and our own personal experiences – now is the epicenter of a furious national debate about police and our relationships with the communities we serve. Over the past two weeks, you have been part of these historic events. You have gone above and beyond to protect lives and property while enforcing the rule of law – all while surrounded by distraught and angry voices questioning the integrity of law enforcement officers everywhere.

This is not the place to dissect and debate the complex issues woven into the national conversation on policing. It is, however, the place to confront the emotions and doubts that current events may have stirred.

It is the right time to ask: Does our work still matter? Is our profession still respected? Does the sacrifice of our own fallen officers still matter to our citizens? Would our sacrifice matter?

Each of us took this job because we believed in something bigger than ourselves – because we believed that a safe and orderly society is worth fighting for. Do we still believe it?

Despite the complicated relationship between law enforcement and the public, we have been fortunate to enjoy the people’s good will for a long time, and especially in the years following the 9/11 attacks. Even recently, polls measuring the most and least respected professions consistently show police officers among the “top 10” respected jobs. People are so interested in the work we do that they stop us in grocery stores and restaurants to talk about it. Today, this ceremony will be broadcast through the media with a tone of reverence and respect.

Perhaps we have grown accustomed to such regard, perhaps a bit too much. The oath we swear is not conditional.

We agree to serve and protect regardless of which way the winds of public opinion blow. We serve, not for tokens of esteem, but because cruelty and selfishness exist in the world and must be fought. We serve because lawlessness leads inevitably to the breakdown of civilization.

More than this, we swear to serve all – not just those who hold us in esteem, but all. I know how hard this is. It is easy to work on behalf of those who admire us, whose values mirror our own. But we are called to protect all, including those who do not admire us, including those whose values do not mirror our own. We are required to treat all with respect; all – including those who do not respect the law, or us.

Despite the noise and negativity of the past weeks and months, I am confident that the overwhelming majority of our citizens appreciate the work we do and trust us to do the right thing. You have worked hard to earn that trust, and we hear expressions of gratitude week in and week out. Today, people across Baltimore County watch us laying wreaths and agree with all their hearts that the officers we remember were heroes.

Edward Kuznar … Charles Huckeba … Samuel Snyder … Robert Zimmerman … Bruce Prothero … John Stem … Mark Parry … Michael Howe … and Jason Schneider. Their sacrifice still matters.

From wherever they are, they remind us that ours is a just and noble cause, worth fighting for and, yes, worth dying for. I hope that this admonition sustains us through the difficult days ahead.

The family of Robert Fogle III -- the firefighter who suffered a fatal cardiac arrest last Friday during a training exercise at the Fire-Rescue Academy -- has asked us to share its appreciation for the support from the community at large as well as from the fire community. They request privacy during this time of mourning.

Carol Ann Fogle, the wife of Robert Fogle III, has asked the Baltimore County Fire Department to share the following statement:

We cannot begin to express in adequate words the sincere appreciation and gratitude we are feeling at this most unexpected and difficult time. Be it known that we feel the strength of your thoughts and prayers, and they are most comforting.

We would like to extend a special "thank you" to all who are tirelessly and feverishly working behind the scenes, putting in untold hours to  prepare seamlessly for the final celebration of my husband’s life. This is such a selfless act of kindness and generosity. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Bob touched so many lives that it is impossible to know the magnitude of grief being felt across the State and nation. His contacts were many beyond the State’s borders.

For those of you who personally knew Bob, we say to you, "thank you," for touching his life as well. We encourage you to embrace any pain of loss you feel from his untimely departure, and then let it go; hold on only to those thoughts and memories that are good.

We personally feel a deep sense of loss. Bob was a wonderful father to Casey and Garrett. He was active in their lives and worked tirelessly to provide them with many rich life experiences so that as adults they are prepared to contribute to their world in a meaningful way.

For me personally, I have not only lost my husband, I have lost my best friend. The grief I feel is numbing, the sorrow I feel is overwhelming.

The love and support from family, friends, the fire community and the community at large – along with our faith – sustains us from day to day.

“Thank you” just does not seem to say enough.

A memorial service to honor Baltimore County police officers who died while performing their duties will take place May 9 at 10 a.m. The service will be held in the Patriot Plaza, 401 Bosley Avenue, Towson, Maryland.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Police Chief James W. Johnson, government dignitaries and the families of the fallen will attend the service.

Nine wreaths will be placed at the memorial by the Police Department Honor Guard. The nine are in memoriam of the fallen nine officers.

The names of officers who died and who will be remembered for their service and dedication are:

Officer Jason Schneider
On August 28, 2013, Tactical Officer Jason Schneider was shot while serving a warrant in Precinct 1/Wilkens. An investigation into an August 19 shooting on Winters Lane led detectives to a home on Roberts Avenue. Tactical Officer Schneider was shot after an exchange of gunfire with a subject inside the Roberts Avenue home. He was transferred to Shock Trauma, where he later died. Officer Schneider was 36 years old.

Lieutenant Michael Howe
Lieutenant Michael Howe died on August 11, 2008 following a massive stroke. On August 10, 2008, Lieutenant Howe was with his unit at the scene of a murder-suicide in Precinct 4/Pikesville. When Lieutenant Howe returned home after the incident, he collapsed. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital where he died the next afternoon.

Sergeant Mark Parry
Sergeant Mark Parry died on January 21, 2002 from injuries sustained in a traffic crash. On December 27, 2001, while on routine patrol in Towson, Sergeant Parry’s unmarked police car was hit by a drunk driver. The driver fled the scene and was arrested a short distance later.

Officer John Stem
Officer John Stem died on October 19, 2000 of complications of paraplegia caused by a line-of-duty gunshot wound he suffered in July 1977. Officer Charles Huckeba was fatally wounded during the same incident in Precinct 1/Wilkens. Officers Stem and Huckeba and other officers were trying to subdue an agitated, armed, 19-year-old man who barricaded himself in his family’s home.

Sergeant Bruce Prothero
On February 7, 2000, Sergeant Bruce Prothero was shot and killed during an armed robbery on Reisterstown Road. Four men robbed the jewelry store where the married father of five worked part time as a security guard. Sergeant Prothero followed the armed robbers out of the store and was shot by one of the men. He died an hour later at a local hospital.

Officer Robert Zimmerman
On November 5, 1986, Officer Robert Zimmerman was on foot patrol on Edmondson Avenue in Precinct 1/Wilkens when he was struck in traffic and critically injured. The 41-year-old officer died on November 14, 1986 as a result of his injuries.

Corporal Samuel Snyder
In August of 1983, Corporal Samuel Snyder, a thirty-year veteran of the department, was shot by a mentally ill subject while responding to a call for assistance from fellow officers in Towson. Officer Snyder died on August 23, 1983 from his wounds.

Officer Charles Huckeba
Officer Charles Huckeba was shot and killed on July 6, 1977 in Precinct 1/Wilkens as police attempted to talk an armed, drug-abusing, barricaded youth into surrendering. Officer John Stem was also injured during this incident. Officer Stem succumbed to his injuries 23 years later on October 19, 2000.

Officer Edward Kuznar
On December 9, 1969, Officer Edward Kuznar died as a result of a traffic accident. While on traffic patrol near Kingsville, Kuznar was hit head-on by a driver who crossed the center line and crashed into his police car. Both the officer and the driver were killed.

The Baltimore County Police Department Memorial consists of a carved replica of the department badge, flanked by two memorial tablets engraved with the names of those who have died in the line-of-duty since the department was established in 1874.

It bears the inscription:

In lasting memory of those officers and families who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:9

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