Editorial: Thanks to the award-winners and all those who protect the public's safety

Commissioner Stephen Wantz closed his remarks Wednesday during the annual Public Safety Awards by saying, “We should say thank you on a regular basis for those who run in when others run out.”

Yes we should. Wednesday, which was Peace Officers Memorial Day, gave communities across the country reason to recognize the service of fallen officers. And, for the third year in a row, it gave our community an opportunity to recognize public safety professionals for outstanding service in the past year during an event hosted by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.


The Distinguished Achievement Award was particularly meaningful to the staff of the Carroll County Times. This award was given to the Critical Incident Stress Management Team and the organizations they collaborated with in providing services to the staff of the Times after the June 28 mass shooting that killed five staff members at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis. That team provided protection, counseling services and a physical workspace to protect and support Times staffers mourning lost colleagues, in collaboration with the 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.

Numerous other honors were bestowed to worthy recipients, chosen by the Public Safety Awards Committee, which is made up of public safety professionals and Chamber of Commerce members from around the county.

The Gold Medal of Valor went to the Gamber Water Rescue Team and volunteers from fire companies across the county for their response when violent and unexpected flooding put lives in danger on Carroll’s roads July 25, noting in particular this team’s work to rescue four passengers in a van who became trapped with water filling its cabin as well as a bystander who had been swept away while trying to help. The Silver Medal of Bravery went to a group of law enforcement officers who responded to Liberty Reservoir on July 20 when a vehicle went into the water with a driver trapped inside. 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.

Correctional Deputy Lonnie Jersild, of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, was named the correctional officer of the year for his consistency, leadership and integrity to the job, the committee said. The Dispatcher of the Year award was given to a group in Shift A with the Carroll County Emergency Communications Center for their response during the July 25 severe storms, when roads, power lines, houses and vehicles were enveloped in floodwaters with little warning.

Two 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,” particularly the way he spearheaded the work to find the suspect and secure the safe return of the child after an abduction, the committee said. And Detective Jonathan Beck of the Westminster Police Department was recognized for his work, which led to 37 search and seizure warrants in 2018 that turned up illegal drugs and firearms, and one investigation into distribution that resulted in three federal indictments, the committee said.

And state police Sgt. Steven L. Parisan was named Supervisor of the Year for his leadership that inspires the troopers under his command to emulate his exceptional bearing and attitude, the committee said.

As Wantz said, emergency responders make split-second decisions with little room for error in answering the call during an emergency. To those who helped us at the Times, to the others who earned awards and to the many, many others who respond by running in, we say thank you.