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Baltimore County Police and Fire News

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Keyword: line of duty

Baltimore County Police Officers are wearing mourning bands on their badges today in memory of a fallen hero.

In the early morning hours of August 28, 2013, Police Officer First Class Jason Schneider (36) responded as a member of the Tactical Unit to assist with service of a search and seizure warrant at a home on Roberts Avenue in Precinct 1/Wilkens. The warrant was connected to the investigation of a shooting that had occurred nine days earlier.

When the Tactical Unit, led by Officer Schneider, entered the home, it encountered armed suspects. There was an exchange of gunfire, and Officer Schneider was hit. He died of his injuries later that morning at the University of Maryland's R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Officer Schneider is the ninth member of the Baltimore County Police Department to give his life in service to his fellow citizens.

"We continue to feel grief at Jason's loss," said Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson. "This was an experienced police officer, a leader and a friend to many in the police community. Only time will help us move past this tragedy. Meanwhile, I encourage us to seek comfort in our memories of Jason and pride in his brave and selfless sacrifice."

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.


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.

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