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Harford sheriff's deputy recognized for community service

A Harford County Sheriff's deputy was recognized this week for his community service by the Maryland Sheriff's Association.

DFC Shawn Forton, a seven-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office, assigned as a K-9 officer at the Harford County Detention Center, was recognized as the 2012 Deputy Sheriff of the Year for Community Service for a large agency by the Maryland Sheriffs' Association. The award was presented Monday during the association's annual conference in Ocean City held the week of Sept. 8 to 12.

Forton is an accomplished artist and was recognized for using his artistic talent and for his compassion for others, to raise funds to support various charities and individuals. In 2011 and 2012, after receiving support from the Havre de Grace City Council, the Susquehanna Hose Company and Amtrak officials, Forton began efforts to raise money to fund and paint a 100-by-40-foot outdoor mural depicting scenes in his hometown of Havre de Grace.

Then, using other artwork that included prints, originals and signed materials by NFL players, Forton raised more than $12,000 to assist the Kennedy Krieger Institute. He also collected an additional $4,000 during another art show where the proceeds were used to help and support a local child suffering from several life threatening illnesses.

Forton has sold his own artwork to NFL players in the process raising $2,500 to benefit Havre de Grace Middle School's art program. More recently, he assisted students from the Bel Air High School as they painted a mural to honor sheriff's deputies who have died in the line of duty. Both murals were completed and one mural is on display at the Sheriff's Office headquarters and the second will soon be on display at the Harford County Detention Center.

Sheriff's Office Capt. Timothy Keggins, who nominated Forton for this award, said Forton's continued service to his community does not stop at one charity, organization or event, which is clearly demonstrated by the vast array of organizations he is willing to assist.

"Whether it is high schools with projects, donations to large and small organizations, raising money for individual children, or specific events, Forton has given of his free time utilizing his talents as an artist," Keggins said. "His commitment to serve the public and the community in which he lives and works is both commendable and honorable. His dedication to the community shows his character as a corrections officer and an individual."

Sheriff L. Jesse Bane, who was also at the award ceremony, spoke of Forton's selflessness.

"Shawn is an incredibly gifted artist who is using his talents to support his community, people in need and people who are less fortunate. The work he is doing is wonderful and his actions are admirable. We are indeed very fortunate to have him as a member of our community and as a member of our Sheriff's Office," Bane said.

Forton received a similar award from the Sheriff's Office last spring for his community service efforts.

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