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Mourning the loss of fallen officers

Mercury News Editorial

To ``protect and serve'' is more than a motto for law enforcement officers. Every day can require some of both. And either can lead to the ultimate sacrifice.

Both Michael Walker and Richard May knew about the rewards and dangers of their profession. Both died in the line of duty, in particularly tragic incidents, just a week apart. Both are mourned by far more than the friends and families whose lives they directly touched.

Walker, a lieutenant in the California Highway Patrol, was a supervisor who still liked to work the beat. When a car became disabled in the mud along Highway 17 on New Year's Eve, he pulled up to lend a hand and set flares -- fulfilling his mission to serve. Another car smacked into the back of a nearby Caltrans truck, which then struck and killed Walker. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Seven days later, May, an East Palo Alto police officer, was on patrol with a 16-year-old Explorer Scout riding along. They responded to a call about a fight at a taqueria, and when a suspect fled, May gave chase. He was shot and killed by the suspect, who later was captured. Another wife and three children now mourn the loss of a husband and father.

Both were veteran officers. Both thought of policing as community work -- a job where they could help people.

The motto ``To Protect and Serve'' isn't official for all law enforcement agencies, but it's what Walker and May died doing. We salute them for their sacrifice and share in the sorrow over their loss.

 San Jose Mercury News (http://www.mercurynews.com/)

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