Officer Stephen Schissler, a Towson University graduate and seven-year veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department, used his knowledge of the area to catch a car full of robbers last year.
That arrest helped him nab the August 2011 Officer of the Month award and, on Tuesday, he was named the Precinct 6 Police and Community Relations Council Officer of the Year for 2011.
"Every (officer responds) when something big like that comes out, and it just happened that a tow truck driver gave us good information about where the vehicle was headed," Schissler said of the episode, which involved several people who robbed the Burger King.
"I chased them around a little bit and caught them," he said.
The Officer of the Year honor was given to Schissler at the year-end meeting for the Police and Community Relations Council, held June 26 at the Hillendale Police Resource Center.
But Schissler, who Precinct Commander Cpt. Jonathan Trentzsch described as a quiet man, did more than he gave himself credit for in nabbing the Burger King suspects.
According to the August 2011 Officer of the Month report, a call came in on Aug. 23, 2011 — the same day the east coast was rocked by an earthquake — that five people were fleeing the scene of a robbery at the Burger King on York Road.
Schissler, understanding the layout of Towson, immediately went to the York Road traffic circle. His hunch proved true, and he tried to pull the vehicle over right there in the circle.
The driver did not stop, however, and Schissler pursued the vehicle through heavy traffic on York Road.
When the vehicle was forced to stop in traffic, one of the occupants fled the vehicle, but Schissler stayed on the car.
He knew the vehicle's occupants were armed, but recognizing that the traffic delays may be his only chance to catch the robbers, Schissler got out of his vehicle and detained all four remaining people in the car until backup arrived.
The Officer of the Month report that PCRC President Wesley Wood read stated that the arrests led to the clearance of 16 commercial robbery cases throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area.
The Officer of the Year winner is selected by the PCRC board from the pool of 12 Officer of the Month honorees from the previous year.
"It's a tough job picking out an Officer of the Year," Wood said. "They're all outstanding, really. But I put a little extra weight on the significance of this catch. These were really serious criminals, getting them off the street, and he did it in a very safe manner.
"He made the capture, and we all benefited from it," Wood said.
Schissler, a Harford County native, joined the force after deciding that police officers "seemed like good guys" while he was working at Towson Town Center. While he was off on the day of the fatal mall shooting in December 2011, he said he still spends "plenty of time there."
Schissler said the honor was surprising, but that he's flattered to be recognized for his work.
Though Trentzsch took over after 2011 was completed — and said he's only spoken to Schissler a handful of times — he said the officer is reliable and a good communicator, among other things.
"I was looking through the ratings and all that," he said. "One thing that jumped out at me is that he's very consistent. He's not one of these guys that gets real, real high or real, real low. He's just very consistent for us.
"It's good to see someone recognized for just being a good guy that works hard," Trentzsch.