Officer Bruce Lohr, a 15-year-veteran of the Howard County police department, sums up his feelings for his work quite simply:
"I love being a cop."
Officer Lohr's passion for his job is evident in his day-in, day-out -- efforts as the coordinator of the departmental program that monitors hate and bias incidents. Many county residents have encountered him as an organizer of neighborhood watch groups, a lecturer on safety tips and a mediator between sides in racial and ethnic clashes.
And on occasion, his professional ardor is exhibited in more dramatic fashion -- for example, his role in the rescue last October of a Maryland state trooper who was being beaten by two alleged heroin smugglers on an Interstate 95 median strip in Harford County.
Primarily for that rescue and the subsequent arrests of the assailants made by Officer Lohr and Sgt. Rodney Stem of the county sheriff's department as they were returning from a Delaware seminar on hate crimes, Bruce Lohr was recently honored as the Howard police department's officer of the year.
That was only the latest in a string of honors he and Sergeant Stem have earned for coming to the aid of State Trooper John Appleby. They previously received citations from Gov. William Donald Schaefer and a proclamation of praise from County Executive Charles Ecker. The two men have also been awarded medals of commendation from the county Chamber of Commerce.
In rescuing Trooper Appleby from what might well have been a fatal situation, Officer Lohr and Sergeant Stem happened to save one of Maryland's most successful drug interdiction officers.
"They say they're not heroes," Trooper Appleby has said of the two men. "They are in my eyes and my wife's eyes and my family's eyes. I know in my mind if it weren't for them, I wouldn't be here today."
People who argue that America no longer has heroes overlook the police officers, firefighters and other guardians of the public safety who risk their lives daily for their fellow citizens.
We can all be thankful we are watched over by people such as Bruce Lohr, who loves being a cop and is good at it, too.