Before presenting Eric Heyman with the 2010 Precinct 6 Officer of the Year award, Baltimore County Police Capt. Al Jones suggested that to do as well on the job as Heyman, he must carry around a lucky charm.
But Heyman — who accepted the Officer of the Year honor for the second time in three years — has proven that success on the midnight shift is more about dedication than plain old luck.
Heyman, 27, who also won the award for 2008, was honored Tuesday night at the Precinct 6 Police and Community Relations Council meeting, celebrating a year in which he brought an end to a string of robberies in the city and county and was twice named Officer of the Month for the precinct.
"Officer Heyman is one of my one-man wrecking crews," Jones said. "Whenever I have a crime trend in Towson, whether it's auto theft or robberies on the midnight shift, he's always there. He always seems to find the bad guys."
Jones pointed to Heyman's passion and dedication to his job as one of the reasons he has earned the respect of the communities he serves.
"He comes to work every day and puts in a full eight hours," Jones said. "From the time he logs onto his computer in his car, he's out patrolling the streets and actively looking for the bad guys. The unfortunate thing for them is he usually catches them."
Jones pointed to a string of burglaries in Rodgers Forge that Heyman brought to an end in early 2010 as an example of his commitment.
In the midst of a crime trend in the Towson neighborhood, he responded to a call about a suspicious person in the area. Though the subject was gone when he arrived, Heyman noticed a suspicious Mercedes parked on the road nearby. He got out to feel the hood of the vehicle, and noticed it was still warm.
Though his shift was coming to an end, Heyman changed into plain clothes, took out an unmarked police car and observed the vehicle until the suspect returned to his car.
"I thought we had a good lead with the car … so I thought instead of going home and catching a couple hours of sleep, I'd switch out and sit on the car for a couple of hours," Heyman said. "It just happened to pay off, and we got the guy we were looking for."
The man he arrested had not only been responsible for the burglaries in Rodgers Forge, but for a series of robberies in Baltimore City as well.
For Heyman, who grew up in Owings Mills and graduated from Owings Mills High School, working in neighborhoods full of active citizens makes his job much more fulfilling.
"I really like working in Towson because we have a lot of great community organizations," said Heyman. " To come here and see a great turnout of people who are here for every meeting, regardless of whether I'm here or not, is great.
"I enjoy working here, I like the community, and it certainly makes it a lot easier to do my job."
Wesley Wood, director of the Precinct 6 Police Community Relations Council, said that appreciation is mutual.
"My impression is that he's very meticulous," Wood said. "We really appreciate all of his service, and hope he stays around for a long time."
Also at this week's meeting, Jones presented Distinguished Citizen Awards to Hindi Peterson, 30, of Baltimore City, and Kelly Williams, 30, of Glen Arm. The two friends, who work as delivery nurses at Sinai Hospital, were at the October 2009 opening of Stoney River in Towson when another restaurant patron choked on his steak.
After unsuccessfully performing the Heimlich maneuver, the pair performed CPR on the man until paramedics arrived, and aided emergency workers to save the patient's life.