TWENTY-FIVE hundred mourners were dispersing Wednesday after the funeral of an officer killed in a car crash when Baltimore police received more terrible news: One of the force's helicopters had plummeted to the ground. The pilot, a veteran officer, died later that afternoon.
"The Baltimore Police Department is in shock and disbelief," Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier said of the fatal accidents that brought to 99 the number of city officers killed in the line of duty since 1870.
The two victims were dedicated professionals.
Officer Harold J. Carey, 28, died after two police vehicles collided while rushing to help a colleague struggling with a shoplifter. Officer Carey was a bear of man at 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 250 pounds. Friends nicknamed him the "gentle giant."
Officer Barry W. Wood, 50, flew "Foxtrot" patrol helicopters for 27 years. The Vietnam veteran was chasing a stolen car when his aircraft malfunctioned. It hit the pavement with tremendous force.
When sworn in, police officers realize they are embarking on a career full of hazards. Yet they are willing to put their lives on the line -- despite pay and working conditions that aren't particularly good.
Not all police work is dodging bullets. But what starts as a routine assignment can turn out to be as lethal as a confrontation with a gunman.
It is too late to thank Officers Carey and Wood for their service and dedication. But Baltimoreans should make sure men and women in the Police Department know that their service is
A smile or a few kinds words about a job well done can mean a lot to an officer whose occupation is filled with great stress -- and great public responsibility.
Pub Date: 11/06/98