As Peace Officers Memorial Day gave communities across the country reason to pause and recognize the service of fallen officers Wednesday, a ceremony in Carroll County recognized local public safety professionals for outstanding service in the past year.
The annual Public Safety Awards, held for the third time, were hosted by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.
The Public Safety Awards Committee, made up of public safety professionals and Chamber of Commerce members from around Carroll, chose the groups and individuals recognized.
The Gamber Water Rescue Team and volunteers from fire companies across the county were awarded the Gold Medal of Valor on Wednesday morning.
When violent and unexpected flooding put lives in danger on Carroll’s roads, they responded.
Just after 7 p.m. on July 25, a van with four passengers became trapped on Sullivan Road, with the water rising and beginning to fill its cabin. A bystander tried to help the occupants of the van, but he was swept away by rushing water. On arrival, the members of the rescue team reached the van and broke the windows to find the four occupants inside unharmed. One-by-one, they walked them back to safety. Other volunteers established spotters upstream and downstream, where they located and rescued the man who had been swept away.
Recipients of the Gold Medal of Valor were:
- Incident Command Chief 3-1 Westminster — Jon Haddad
- Dive 13/Boat 13/1 Gamber — Captain Chad Hastings, Lt. Shawn Chenoweth, Lt. Ian Runkles, Sgt. Patrick Livesay, Bo Stansbury, George Syfert and Christopher Windsor
- Utility 3/ ATV3 Westminster — Lt. Corey Milewski, Sgt. Bryce Ballard, Michael Diehl and Anthony Gramiccioni
- Utility 13/Boat 13 Gamber — Lt. Joel Caple, Sgt. Jeremy Hutton, Michael Franklin and Sean Baldwin
- Engine 33 Westminster — Tyler Bowers, Edward Burrell Jr., Billy Buck and Andre Berry
- ATR 30 County Team Pleasant Valley — Chief Forrest Shaw and Danny Leister
- Medic 39 Westminster — Matthew Hefler and Eric Bostian
- Utility 4/ ATV 4 Manchester — Lt. Jeremy Sperlein and Ben Eppley
- Bennet Cerf Team Westminster — Chief Jason Tyler
- Rescue Squad 9 Reese — Chief Michael Knight, Lt. Jeffrey Schaeffer, Daryl Cornett, Kyle Hale and Darryl Tawney
- Engine 102 New Windsor — Chief Thomas Coe, Assistant Chief Mike Moser, Jeff Lease, John Grauel and Marcell Munshaur
A group of law enforcement officers were awarded the Silver Medal of Bravery in recognition of their response to Liberty Reservoir on July 20, when a vehicle went into the water with a driver trapped inside.
Deputy First Class Timothy Lookingbill and Master Deputy William Kyle Barget of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office swam into the water to assist two bystanders. Barget dove down three times into the water in order to free the trapped driver from the fully submerged vehicle.
Master Deputy Michael Prushinski and Deputy Corey Moser of the Sheriff’s Office, plus Sgt. Antoine Smith of the Baltimore Environmental Police, also entered the water to make sure that the driver and deputies made it back to the shore to receive emergency medical treatment.
Although the lifesaving efforts were not ultimately successful, Sheriff Jim DeWees said, “I am humbled to work with and alongside such brave men.”
The Life Saving Award went to members of the Gamber and Reese volunteer fire companies who worked together to save the life of a man who went into a severe allergic reaction after being swarmed by bees.
They provided emergency medical care and epinephrine at the scene, and treatment as Medic 99 transported him to Carroll Hospital. He was able to make a full recovery.
Recipients of the Life Saving Award were:
- Firefighter/ EMT Jack Brown — Gamber
- Engineer Dale Bollinger — Gamber
- Chief Charles Green Jr. — Gamber
- Firefighter/ EMT Jesse Clagett — Gamber
- Lt. Shawn Chenoweth — Gamber
- Firefighter/ EMT Gerald Shaw — Reese
- Firefighter/ Paramedic Chief Dan Bloskey — Reese
The Critical Incident Stress Management Team and the organizations they collaborated with in their response received the Distinguished Achievement Award after they provided services to the staff of the Carroll County Times in the hours and days after the June 28 mass shooting that killed five staff members at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis.
The motives of the alleged shooter were not initially clear, and the Critical Incident Stress Management Team provided protection, counseling services and a physical workspace to the Times staff in order to prevent any possibility of a similar attack and to support Times staffers mourning their lost colleagues.
The other organizations recognized with the award were Carroll County Health Department, Westminster Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, Carroll Community College, Carroll County Public Library, Best Western, Carroll County Department of Economic Development and Friendship Baptist Church, which provided comfort dogs.
Steven R. Roscher, senior assistant state’s attorney, was named prosecutor of the year. Although he has 30 years of prosecution experience and sees “the worst of the worst” in his role with the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit, the committee praised his kindness toward victims of crime. In a 2018 sexual assault case involving a young child, Roscher’s team worked with the victim through the trial process and secured a conviction.
Correctional Deputy Lonnie Jersild, of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, was named the correctional officer of the year. In the work release unit with the Carroll County Detention Center, he brings consistency, leadership and integrity to the job, the committee said, and his efforts have made the the detention center a safer place to work.
The Dispatcher of the Year award was given to a group of people in Shift A with the Carroll County Emergency Communications Center. During the July 25 severe storms, roads, power lines, houses and vehicles were enveloped in floodwaters with little warning. As rain poured onto the county’s roads, hundreds of calls came into the Emergency Communications Center.
The number of calls for water rescues in particular quickly outpaced the county’s resources, with 14 calls for water rescue in the space of about six hours. The Emergency Communications Center personnel secured assistance from neighboring areas and the state.
Dispatcher of the Year winners were:
- Supervisor Charles Green, Jr.
- Supervisor Malcolm Helwig
- Emily Franklin
- Kerri Harris
- Shawn Donovan
- Chris Bowman
- Kim Jones
- Bridget Weishaar
- Alex Wunder Roop
- Stevi Barnes
- Hannah Boyer
- Matt McMenamin
Two individuals were named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2018.
Trooper First Class Derek Eckhardt of the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack was recognized for his “deep well of energy and dedication” in service to others. In July 2018, he responded to the abduction of an infant and spearheaded the work to find the suspect and secure the safe return of the child, the committee said.
Detective Jonathan Beck of the Westminster Police Department takes part in covert operations as part of the Drug Task Force. His work led to 37 search and seizure warrants in 2018 that turned up illegal drugs and firearms, and one investigation into distribution in Baltimore branched out to disrupt drug trade in multiple states and resulted in three federal indictments, the committee said.
State police Sgt. Steven L. Parisan was named Supervisor of the Year. His leadership inspires the troopers under his command to emulate his exceptional bearing and attitude, the committee said.
County Commissioner Steve Wantz, R-District 1, spoke at the ceremony to thank all public safety professionals in Carroll.
Often the public has no idea the amount of work that goes into providing a public safety structure that ensures that someone will answer when they call in an emergency, he said. During a call, emergency responders make split-second decisions with little room for error.
In the course of his service as a firefighter, Wantz experienced the death of Robert Fogle III, a 27-year veteran and career firefighter in Baltimore County who died in 2014 after he suffered a suspected heart attack during training, officials said at the time.
“Sacrifice took on a whole new meaning for me,” he said.
In closing, he said, “We should say thank you on a regular basis for those who run in when others run out.”