Baltimore County police chief: 'Officer Caprio was the type of officer that you'd want to hire'

Amy Caprio served just shy of four years with the Baltimore County Police Department, but she already had proven herself to be a dedicated officer.

She was credited with bringing down a pair of alleged package thieves, closing dozens of cases reported around the county at the end of last year. Because of her efforts, the department was recovered a “cache of stolen property,” including a handmade quilt with an inscription, which later was returned to the quilter.

“She didn't realize that she was embarking on what would become a considerable investigation into holiday package thefts around the eastern portion of Baltimore County, involve numerous cases being independently investigated by officers in multiple precincts, would eventually result in the identification and arrest of two suspects, and would lead to the return of a very sentimental gift,” department officials said at the time.

Closing the case earned her praise across the nearly 2,000-member department, and she was named the Parkville Precinct’s officer of the month in March.

On Monday, Caprio, 29, was killed after responding to a call on Linwen Way to investigate a suspicious vehicle. When she confronted the driver of a black Jeep Wrangler, who was later identified as 16-year-old Dawnta Harris, police wrote in charging documents that Harris “drove at the officer.”

She later was pronounced dead at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.

Harris, of West Baltimore, has been charged in her death. Three other teenage males also are in custody, police said.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Baltimore County Chief of Police Terrence Sheridan praised Caprio as “the type of officer that you want to hire.”

Caprio, he said, was “smart, athletic, energetic and, not quite four years on the job, was starting to show that she had all the potential to be an excellent officer and one of the leaders of this organization in the future.”

“She was the kind of officer that was going to go up in this organization,” he said.

Caprio is the county’s first female officer to die in the line of duty and the 10th officer killed in the department’s nearly 150-year history. The last was Tactical Officer Jason Schneider, 36, who was fatally shot while serving a warrant in Catonsville on Aug. 28, 2013.

In a statement, Caprio’s supervisor, Lieutenant Chemelli, described the officer as having “a work ethic like no other.” The department did not release the supervisor’s first name.

“She truly loved being a police officer and helping others — this was her passion and definitely her calling,” the statement said. “She made the ultimate sacrifice doing a job that she loved. She will be greatly missed by our shift and will forever be our hero.”

The department also said Caprio loved the outdoors, and activities such as mountain biking and kayaking with her husband. She loved dogs, including her dog named Doodle.

When Caprio was out on patrol, the department said, she brought a leash and treats for dogs she might come across.

Gov. Larry Hogan said on Twitter Tuesday that U.S. and Maryland flags will fly at half-staff until Caprio’s funeral service Friday.

A viewing for Caprio will be held Thursday at Schimunek Funeral Home in Nottingham, followed the next day by a funeral at Mountain Christian Church in Fallston and a service at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

Caprio’s family did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. On Facebook, her husband, Tim Caprio, posted that he loved her “forever.”

“You are by far the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he wrote.

Caprio and her husband had planned a trip this weekend to celebrate their third wedding anniversary and both of their forthcoming birthdays, the department said. Caprio would have turned 30 on Sunday.

Tim Caprio spoke on the Norris & Long Show on 105.7 The Fan on Tuesday morning.

“I’m just still grieving. I don’t know, I just feel like talking about it is definitely better than not,” he told Ed Norris, one of the show’s hosts and a former Baltimore city police commissioner.

Amy Caprio graduated from Towson Univeristy in 2010 with a degree in exercise science, a school spokesman said. She was also a 2006 graduate of Loch Raven High School.

She joined the county police department in July 2014, according to a county employee database. She graduated with the department’s 140th recruit class in December 2014 and was assigned initially to the Essex precinct.

David Rose, second vice president of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, said a number of officers gathered at the FOP’s office in Parkville Monday and Tuesday.

“We are trying to focus our attention on the family and Amy this week. We’re not going to focus on the arrestees right now,” Rose said.

He said Caprio had “a huge support system” of friends.

“Everything I’ve heard about her is she was a stellar officer to work with,” he said.

In Fallston, a man who answered the door the Caprios’ home Monday identified himself as a family friend but declined to comment. A next-door neighbor said she didn’t know the officer and her husband, except to wave hello.

Hanging from the Caprios’ home was an American flag with a thin blue line replacing one of the white bars, indicating support for the law enforcement community.

The investigation into the package thefts began when Caprio was assigned to handle a report of a stolen package in Nottingham, and then a report of empty boxes tossed into bushes along a roadside in Parkville.

The department said Caprio pieced together evidence from security cameras, interviewed witnesses, tracked a vehicle and compared notes with other officers investigating package thefts in the area. She ended up linking two suspects to dozens of stolen packages in the Parkville, White Marsh, Dundalk, Towson, Cockeysville and Essex precincts.

When officers found the suspects’ hotel room, it was filled with stolen goods, including a brightly colored handmade quilt with “a heartfelt inscription” that a woman had shipped to her granddaughter, police said. The quilt eventually was returned to the family.

The police department praised “the lengthy investigation and hard work that Officer Caprio invested into what she could have simply considered a trash complaint.”

In November, Caprio posted a picture on her Facebook page of a police badge covered with a black band following the fatal shooting of Baltimore Police Det. Sean Suiter.

“Very, very proud of our daughter!,” her mother wrote in response to Caprio’s post. “And I always pray that there is an angel with her to protect her ... and her work family.”

In addition to her husband and her parents, Debbie and Garry Sorrells, Caprio is survived by her sisters Kristin Fitch and Laura Sorrells, according to an online obituary. She is also survived by two nephews and “her beloved dog.”

Baltimore Sun reporters Christina Tkacik and Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.

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