It took only seven minutes last Oct. 26 for Baltimore County police, aided by 911 center dispatchers, to find and arrest two men suspected of robbing the Farmers Bank & Trust Co. in Randallstown and shooting all four tellers, killing two.
That quick action, police Maj. Kevin Sanzenbacher thought, saved the county hundreds of hours of detective and patrol work and perhaps thousands of dollars in overtime costs. And he wondered, since the county has given cash awards to officers for money-saving ideas such as replacing flares with orange cones at accident sites, why shouldn't the people who helped catch the two suspects get awards?
Higher-ranking officials agreed, and County Executive Roger B. Hayden passed out $9,500 in performance bonus checks yesterday to five police officers or their representatives and seven 911 center dispatchers.
Patricia Powers, a 911 dispatcher, got the first call about the robbery from Barbara Mitchell Aldrich, the teller wounded least severely in the shootings. Ms. Powers got enough information from the dazed and bleeding woman to pass on to police dispatcher Terri Jones.
As Ms. Powers kept Mrs. Aldrich talking, always assuring the frightened caller that help was coming, she got more information on the robbers, their weapons and conditions at the bank.
As she spoke, 911 workers Amy Siedlecki, Nedean Fales, Adrienne Wood, Suzy Whitby-Langhirt and Donald Gaigalas, suddenly aware of the situation, helped route the information to dozens of police officers in the Garrison and Woodlawn precincts, which are divided by Liberty Road. They also kept communications from jamming with inquiries from other officers.
Four minutes after the first call, Officer Ronald Patton arrived at the bank. Three minutes later, Officers Philip Crumbacker, Andrew Davis, Garrett Leonard and Christopher Millirons captured two men as they disposed of a gun, clothing and other evidence in two trash bins behind a Liberty Road business.
Because of the swift 911 response, the first three officers spotted the suspects' silver Toyota as it passed them at Liberty and Milford Mill roads.
After spotting the car, Officers Crumbacker, Davis and Leonard, joined later by Officer Millirons, became convinced that they had the suspects, even without a physical description, Officer Crumbacker said.
Taken by surprise by four officers with guns drawn, both men surrendered without a fight. Police recovered $5,863 in bank money, along with a semiautomatic machine pistol.
Benjamin Franklin Boisseau Jr., 23, one of the men arrested, was convicted in March of murder and other crimes for his role in the robbery. He is serving four consecutive life sentences, two of which are without the possibility of parole, plus 100 years. The alleged trigger man, Louis Hill III, 25, of Rodgers Forge, has yet to be tried.
Yesterday, the police officers seemed uncomfortable in the role of heroes, especially because they learned about their awards only two days ago.
"We do a job and don't expect to be paid any bonus money," Officer Leonard said.
"I knew all four of the victims up there," Officer Davis said, adding that he was uncomfortable about being awarded bonus money "knowing that these people had been killed. . . . It's a terrible thing, it really is."
Each of the officers involved received a $1,000 check yesterday, as did Ms. Powers and Ms. Jones. The other dispatchers received $500 each. The officers had previously received $500 each from the Baltimore County Police Foundation, a private group made up of police officers and business people.