Several high profile line-of-duty deaths have made headlines in the first few months of 2016, serving as a reminder of just how dangerous first responders’ jobs can be.
This year, Maryland honored four law enforcement officers at its Fallen Heroes event at Dulaney Memorial Gardens, all killed in the line of duty.
"What is a hero? Certainly none of these men woke up in the morning and said, when I come home tonight, I'm coming home a hero. It is not conferred, it is earned by sacrifice, courage, valor," keynote speaker and Baltimore Son Obituary writer Frederick Rasmussen said from the podium.
On Feb. 10, Harford County Sheriff's Deputies Mark Logsdon and Patrick Daily were killed confronting a suspect in an Abingdon Panera back in February and in March, Detective Jacai Colson of the Prince George's County Police Department was killed by friendly fire in the confusion of a gun battle with a suspect outside a police station.
Hundreds of community members attended memorial services for the deputies, who both were awarded the Sheriff’s Office Medal of Honor posthumously.
“I pray I never award another one," Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler told ABC2 at the time.
Just about a month later, Prince George’s County Det. Jacai Colson was killed in a shootout outside the station. Colson was inadvertently shot by another officer who responded to the shooting.
Officer Noah Leotta was struck and killed in December by a drunk driver as he worked a DUI detail in Montgomery County.
Three brothers were charged in the attack.
This annual ceremony as much for them as it is for their families, friends and loved ones.
"We pray that they find solace knowing that their loved one died doing what they were called to do and knowing that their sacrifice will never be forgotten," Governor Larry Hogan said, "On behalf of an eternally grateful state, we say thank you. God bless each and every one of them, may God bless their families and all those who love them. May God bless all of those who are sworn to protect the citizens of this state and may God continue to bless the great state of Maryland.”
And last month, Prince George's County Firefighter John Ulmschneider who was shot and killed responding to a call last month was also mentioned today.
He will be honored at Fallen Heroes Day 2017.