Officer Taylor, 44, died Aug. 29 of injuries incurred on duty. The 17-year veteran of the city Police Department was driving to aid a fellow officer at 5:50 a.m. Feb. 18 when his police cruiser was struck at an intersection downtown. He had endured months of surgeries, therapies and treatments in an effort to recover. He was the first city officer to die in the line of duty this year.
Charles Street church. They sang hymns and listened to Scripture readings and sermons. But mostly they shared stories of the man they all called Dino, the officer who took on the most challenging assignments and who was planning to join the police academy and help shape the next generation of city police.
A few read letters and texts they had received from Officer Taylor, all of those encouraging and optimistic.
"He was one of the most dedicated officers and the most visible on foot patrolling downtown," said Deputy Police Commissioner John Skinner. "He dedicated his entire career to public service. Baltimore is a safer city because of his work."
While its rider's life was celebrated inside the cathedral, a bright red Honda motorcycle sat in the bed of a large black pickup truck parked in front. Black bunting was draped across its handlebars. Well-worn work boots were tied backward onto the pedals and a faded orange bandanna was hung from the back seat. A decal read "Live Honoring America's Fallen."
Members of the Archangel Riders Motorcycle Club of Elkridge had escorted the truck from Officer Taylor's home in Annapolis to the church. Many mourners lingered at the truck before entering the church, and a few reached in to touch the riderless bike.
Deputy Commissioner Skinner recalled the first time he met Officer Taylor. At 6 feet 3 and weighing about 250 pounds, Officer Taylor looked more like a linebacker than a police recruit, he said.
"I knew he was a force to be reckoned with," he said, adding that Taylor's heart matched his size. "When Dino was on your corner, you knew everything was OK."
He asked the officers in the church to stand as he pledged their support to the Taylor family, particularly to the officer's wife, Amber; 7-year-old son, Tristan; and daughter, Millie, 5.
"We will support you just like Dino supported us," the deputy commissioner said.
Friends shared many stories during the 90-minute service. They told of a boy who grew up in Annapolis public housing with four brothers. A brief stint working in security for his older brother got him interested in police work, and he joined the city department in 1995. Several spoke of how he "ruled The Block," his beat on Baltimore Street, and that he added ordained minister to his list of accomplishments five years ago.
Former Police Commissioner Ed Norris said he once asked Officer Taylor why he took on the most difficult jobs. "Somebody has to do it" was the reply, Mr. Norris said.
Chino Taylor, the officer's eldest brother, asked officers attending the services to send their memories of Officer Taylor in letters or emails to Tristan and Millie.
Mr. Norris urged mourners to "be proud of what you are doing and take care of each other."