Police officers and public safety officials don their uniforms before each and every shift, knowing potential dangers may lay ahead.
A special kind of heroism is required to willingly run into that danger in order to protect others, which is why Hampton Police Detective Alex Reno was one of thousands of police officers who wanted Thursday to pay tribute to a man who lived every day trying to assist and protect others.
Reno often choked up while reflecting on fallen Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney, a man he knew both professionally and personally, during a memorial service for Maloney, who was gunned down last week while trying to rescue wounded officers.
One thing that brings "huge comfort" during a loss like Maloney's, said Reno, is seeing the level of support on display from his fellow officers and residents. Thousands of officers came together Thursday from as far away as Canada, California and Maryland to honor their fallen brother, and Reno said that kind of showing helps them through even the hardest parts of their duties.
"One thing that comforts every police officer is that whatever happens to them, they know the support will be there for them," said Reno, who is also Hampton Academy's school resource officer. "It's like your backup is coming. It's like you're not alone in this little corner of the world."
Hampton Detective Chris Gilroy agreed, stating the simple act of attending a officer's funeral is a "sheer appreciation" that "means a lot" and goes a long way toward "helping those of us who are really suffering."
Gilroy said he's "always known" that the support is there, especially since he has attended several police memorials, including one after a "terrible tragedy" while he lived in Woburn, Mass.
Even with that knowledge, though, Gilroy said it would be impossible to not be affected by seeing thousands of officers saluting Thursday a friend he personally saw put his life on the line to save others.
"This hasn't changed anything for me," said Gilroy. "It's just maybe made it much closer than it's ever been."
He encouraged community members to not take the strong displays made by police lightly, and encouraged everyone to take the time to thank officers and public safety officials for their "selfless" and "heroic" acts because their duty is vital to the success of the community.
"The jobs they do everyday have a direct impact on the safety of all of us," said the governor.