Candlelight event honors fallen city police officers

Norris' remarks include harsh words for critics

May 21, 2001|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF

At a candlelight memorial for 110 Baltimore police officers who have perished on the job since the 1850s, police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said last night that he is "proud to serve with men and women who know ... there are things worth dying for."

Norris said he wants people to be able to sit outside in the summer without fear. "We want to make this a city where you don't have to shut your doors as soon as the sun goes down," he said.

Without naming anyone, Norris used the occasion to take a swing at critics who have challenged his aggressive efforts to battle crime and to replace commanders he believes aren't getting the job done.

"Things have gotten so much better in the last two years," Norris told a supportive crowd of about 100 people. They included the widows, parents, children and friends of city officers killed in the line of duty. Five officers have died since Mayor Martin O'Malley took office about 18 months ago.

"The fact is, if you have an administration who will let you do your job ... the police will deliver some amazing things for you," Norris said. "This whole vocal minority that stands in the way of progress should hang their heads in shame."

Last night's service at police headquarters included a reading of the names of 110 city officers who have died on duty since the mid-19th century. Some were read, in quavering voices, by surviving wives and mothers, some by Norris and other police commanders.

The ceremony was billed as the First Annual Candlelight Service for city officers who have died on duty.

"This was long overdue. We should have been doing this all along," said Martha Wood, the widow of Officer Barry W. Wood, who died in 1998 when the police helicopter he was piloting crashed at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Rain shelved plans to hold the ceremony across the street, at Shot Tower Park, the future site of the Baltimore Police Memorial.

Wood serves on the board of the Baltimore City Police Memorial Fund, which is working to raise money to build the memorial. It remains unbuilt because the initial $2.5 million design proved too expensive.

Wood said the memorial's supporters are trying to pay the design bills from the first effort and to raise cash for the new proposal, which should cost less than $1 million.

Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 1254, Abingdon, Md., 21009.

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