DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — Fifteen years ago this month, many in Maryland were locking their doors and looking over their shoulders. A murder spree and manhunt were underway.

Alex DeMetrick reports a man who helped get the state through that very tough time, is laid to rest.

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Baltimore County police made it a funeral with full honors at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Dundalk.

And even though Bill Toohey never wore a policeman’s uniform, he was often the face of the department, serving as its public information officer.

“He was absolutely a shining star in the agency,” Chief James Johnson, of the Baltimore County Police, said.

Especially during the dark days of Joseph Palczynski.

In March 2000, Palczynski murdered four people and took a Dundalk family hostage for days.

Around the clock, day after day, Toohey kept the public informed.

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He was the news media’s and the public’s best source, right up to a late rainy night when SWAT teams moved in — and Palczynski was shot dead by Baltimore County tactical officers.

“Bill played a critical role in offering the public reassurance, calm, letting them know that the public safety providers were doing everything that we could to do,” Johnson said.

Toohey’s skill served more than one police department.

It also influenced peers at other agencies.

“He was the gold standard, and media in Baltimore, reporters would would tell us, we just weren’t measuring up to Bill’s standards,” Greg Shipley, with Maryland State Police, said. “So it was something we always worked harder at, because we knew that Bill was the best at what he did.”

Toohey worked for more than the Baltimore County police in his career.

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A former reporter, he also served as a spokesman for other public agencies and two Maryland senators.