Officer Gavin's sacrifice; Killed on duty: Crushed by a speeding escape vehicle, dedicated police officer had no chance.


KEVON M. GAVIN tried so hard to overcome the odds. He went to the Navy to escape his crack-infested Brooklyn (N.Y.) neighborhood. He became a police officer and urged other relatives to join him in Baltimore because he thought life was simpler and safer here.

This city's indiscriminate violence caught up with 27-year-old Officer Gavin at the corner of Lombard and Gilmor streets Thursday night. He never had a chance: He was crushed when a sports utility vehicle chased by police plowed directly into his patrol car, which caught fire.

The senseless savagery of the collision is shattering. Equally shocking is the fact that the suspect rescued from the wrecked Ford Bronco was a 17-year-old clad in body armor. He has been charged with murdering Officer Gavin. He has also been charged with attempted murder in a shooting that set the chain of events in motion.

Since 1870, 101 city officers have made the ultimate sacrifice while living up to the police department's motto: "to protect and serve."

Officer Gavin's death comes at a time when Baltimoreans are debating future policing strategies. Some fear that a plan submitted by Mayor Martin O'Malley and acting Commissioner Edward T. Norris is too aggressive.

Others say only tough measures will help reduce the number of killings that have made Baltimore one of the nation's most violent cities.

Even as the debate goes on, front-line police officers have little choice. They are doing their jobs and cannot hesitate. Any routine assignment may turn deadly.

"The only way he came to your attention was by his productivity," a former commander said proudly of Officer Gavin. He was a good cop. Baltimore mourns his loss.

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