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Late NOPD officer Marcus McNeil with police Chief Michael Harrison and New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu.

In times of war, Americans have scanned the news with interest to see the latest tallies of those who have died in defense of this country.

The times now call us to another grim tradition — reading reports of those who have died not to keep the peace abroad, but right here in our own streets and neighborhoods.

The death of law enforcement officers in the line of duty has become all too common, as we were reminded on Friday when 29-year-old New Orleans police officer Marcus McNeil died during an exchange of gunfire in New Orleans East. The gunman was injured during the shootout and taken to a hospital. McNeil leaves behind a wife and two children.

What's known about the shooting is still developing, but the most important thing is already evident: a man sworn to uphold the law has paid the ultimate price for doing his job.

This weekend’s election in New Orleans and across Louisiana affirmed a basic principle of civic life, the power of the people to choose their own destiny. But our freedoms, grounded in the rule of law, require the willingness of brave men and women who are willing to enforce the law, often under difficult circumstances. The death of a policeman tells us once more just how tough that job can be.