Sarah R. Mastronardi had wanted to be a lawyer since she was a youngster. But a police officer who visited her Eastern Shore high school and talked about a slain colleague prompted her to join the Maryland State Police.
"I had no doubt in my mind as to what I was going to do," the sergeant said yesterday as she accepted an award for leadership at the Mid-Atlantic Association of Women in Law Enforcement, being held in Baltimore.
"That police officer gave his life," said Mastronardi, who joined the force in 1978. "The least I could do was give everything I got to the citizens of Maryland every day that I could."
Mastronardi was one of three female officers to win awards during the second day of the regional conference, at which speakers addressed a range of issues, including domestic assault and advice on women advancing in the ranks of law enforcement.
Baltimore District Judge Jamey H. Weitzman, a featured speaker yesterday, described declining respect for police and told a crowd of officers from several states that they must not only be above reproach, but take the lead in fighting crime.
"We must be willing to play nontraditional roles," said Weitzman, a former prosecutor who took a lead role in establishing drug courts. "It's not enough for police to react at a crime scene. You must be proactive."
The judge reminded officers to be respectful and honest. "The first impression of the legal system is when the citizen meets you," she said, adding later: "The modern police force doesn't need cowboys."
Mastronardi was honored for her work on the Eastern Shore helping troopers under her command solve drug, arson and homicide cases, and working with community groups to solve crime problems.
Her colleague, Cpl. Linda Stascavage, was honored for a 1998 car stop in which she seized $6,000 in suspected drug money and arrested a man who was a suspect in a double shooting in Harrisburg, Pa.
Officer Kris Gulden of the Alexandria, Va., police, received an award for outstanding service. She expanded her department's bicycle patrol and was part of a task force that reduced car thefts by 14 percent.
In May, she was hit by a car while riding a bicycle and now uses a wheelchair. She has returned to work in the department's training section, and the nominating officer called her "a role model, a teacher and an inspiration to everyone around her."
Pub Date: 3/31/99