On Thursday, January 12, 2012, the Ocean City Neighborhood Watch Association gathered at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center for their annual “Officer of the Year” recognition dinner. Nearly 150 guests attended the event, including Mayor Rick Meehan, Council Members, Mary Knight, Margaret Pillas, Brent Ashley and Doug Cymek as well as several Ocean City Police employees, residents and members of the eight Neighborhood Watch Associations in Ocean City, the Boardwalk Group, Bayshore Drive, Caine Keys II, Caine Woods, Edgewater Avenue, Little Salisbury, Montego Bay and Sundowner Park.
Ocean City Police Detective 1st Class Jeffery Johns was selected the honorable recipient of the Ocean City Neighborhood Watch Association’s 2011 “Officer of the Year” award. Also nominated for the 2011 “Officer of the Year” award were Ocean City Police Officer Justin Hoban, PFC Daniel Jacobs, PFC Chris Snyder, PFC Mike Richardson and Corporal Rick Wawrzeniak.
Detective 1st Class Jeffrey Johns is originally from Pennsylvania and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He worked as a seasonal officer for two years before being hired full time in 2004. Detective Johns worked in the patrol division before being assigned to the Vice and Narcotics unit. This was a very special night of recognition as Detective Johns was not only named the 2011 Officer of the Year, earlier in the evening Police Chief Bernadette DiPino presented Detective Johns with the highest police department recognition, “The Medal of Honor.” Detective Johns received this honor as a result of being attacked and seriously injured this past summer when he was working in an undercover capacity.
“I am a very lucky guy, it is such an honor to have even been nominated, and I thank my fellow officers who are like my family,” said Detective Johns. This is a great community to be a policeman in. Every resident and especially the Neighborhood Watch members are an incredible resource, and it really is a partnership. I wouldn’t be standing here right now if it wasn’t for them.”
In addition to being named “Officer of the Year,” Detective Johns and 18 other departmental members received a “Unit Citation.” Detective Johns also received the Bronze Star. Both of these honors stemmed from a burglary investigation that helped recover 11 flat screen televisions and numerous other home electronic components.
Long time Neighborhood Watch members William and Anna Neimiller were recognized for their service with the Montego Bay Neighborhood Watch group for over 15 years, during which William Neimiller served as the Area Coordinator for the group. During the awards banquet 17 members of the Ocean City Police were recognized for their recent promotions as follows:
PROMOTIONS FOR 2011
- The promotions for each rank from lowest to highest:
- Police Officer 1st Class
- PFC Joseph Centofranchi
- PFC Gregory Eastman
- PFC Kyle Murray
- PFC David Whitmer
- CPL Freddie Howard
- CPL Charles “Josh” Kelley
- CPL Frank Soscia
- CPL Joseph Lotito
- SGT Gregory DeGiovanni
- SGT Regina Custer
- SGT Dennis Eade
- SGT James Grady
- SGT Glenn McIntyre
- LT Scott Harner
- LT Elton “Jr” Harmon
- LT Todd Wood
- Captain – CAPT Gregory Guiton
Officers also received the following awards and recognitions during the ceremony:
Unit Citation: Awarded to a division, shift or section for meritorious service or outstanding achievement, wherein the designed unit is clearly set above and apart from other units.
Unit Citation for 2011: Capt Robert Bokinsky, Lt. Mark Pacini, Lt. Ray Austin, Sgt. Todd Wood, Cpl Brett Case, Cpl James Schwartz, Cpl Shawn Jones, Cpl Jeffrey Heiser, DFC Nicholas Simpson, Cpl Ronnie Townsend, DFC Todd Speigle, DFC James Rodriguez, DFC Matthew Forman, PFC Sara Dorsey, Officer Joseph Melena, CST Sharon Schultz, CST Robert Luckett and CST Nicole Ruggiero.
During the winter of 2010 the mid-town area of Ocean City was experiencing a rash of burglaries during which flat screen televisions were stolen. While conducting a CDS investigation, Detective Johns happened to mention to a drug dealer that he would like to purchase a television. DFC Johns eventually purchased two flat screen televisions, which were determined to be stolen from burglaries being investigated by the patrol division. During the course of this investigation a total of nine suspects were arrested. Property recovered during the service of several search and seizure warrants included: 11 flat screen televisions, one shotgun, two DVD players and an MP3 docking station. A total of $40,000 in restitution was ordered to the victims by the court.
Excellent Performance: Awarded to any member of the police department, including civilians, for an act or achievement above that which is normally required or expected.
Excellent Performance Award for 2011: Sgt Mark Paddack and DFC James Rodriguez
While conducting a crime scene process, Sgt. Paddack struck up a conversation with the victim of a burglary. Based on this brief conversation with the victim a suspect was developed from information about the crime. Additional follow up investigation by DFC Rodriguez determined that the suspect was involved in numerous residential and commercial burglaries within Ocean City and lower Delaware. The suspect stole a vehicle, U.S. currency and an entire bedroom set during these burglaries.
Excellent Performance Award for 2011: PFC Aaron Morgan and PFC Sara Dorsey
On May 30, 2011 PFC Morgan and PFC Dorsey responded to the report of a hit and run motor vehicle collision. During the investigation PFC Morgan tracked the suspect vehicle to a residence by reviewing the physical evidence. PFC Morgan eventually located the passenger of the vehicle and PFC Dorsey conducted interviews that determined a domestic argument had occurred in the hit and run vehicle. PFC Dorsey eventually developed probable cause to charge the driver with 1st and 2nd degree assault and numerous traffic charges.
Excellent Performance Award for 2011: Sgt. Dennis Eade, PFC Andrew Sprague, S.O. Michael Koehler and S.O. Evan Kolb
On August 4, 2011, PFC Sprague conducted an initial complaint of a robbery at the Oceanic Motel. PFC Sprague broadcast a thorough description of the suspects. Five hours later SO Koehler and SO Kolb stopped two subjects for an alcohol violation, during which one suspect fled. During a search of the detained subject’s phone, Sgt. Eade learned the location of the second suspect who was apprehended.
Excellent Performance Award for 2011: PFC Andrew Sprague and Officer Joseph Melena
While on bicycle patrol in the Southern District, PFC Sprague and Officer Melena observed two suspicious subjects in a vehicle. Eventually both subjects were arrested for CDS, which included 63 Percocet’s, other pills and marijuana. A combined total of $8,104 in U.S. currency was seized during this CDS investigation.
Excellent Performance Award for 2011: PFC Michael Richardson, Officer Justin Hoban
On April 24, 2011, Officer Hoban was dispatched to Somerset Street for a strong-arm robbery. OFC Hoban broadcast a lookout for the suspect and PFC Richardson recognized the subjects from an earlier observation in the evening. After a lengthy patrol investigation with numerous interviews and one on one identification, a total of nine Dover, Delaware men were arrested for CDS, robbery and possession of a handgun.
Excellent Performance Award for 2011: PFC Daniel Jacobs
On May 24, 2011 Officers responded to the North Division Street 7-11 for a rape investigation. Based on a description of the suspect, PFC Jacobs was able to determine that it was a subject he had observed earlier in the evening. PFC Jacobs and Kelly observed the subject in the area and a foot chase ensued, during which Jacobs located and apprehended the suspect in a unit on North Division Street.
Excellent Performance Award for 2011: PFC Christopher Snyder
On June 19, 2011 PFC Snyder conducted a burglary investigation on Robin Drive, during which he smelled the odor of marijuana. PFC Snyder conducted a thorough investigation and authored a search and seizure warrant. During execution of the warrant PFC Snyder seized numerous items of CDS paraphernalia and $5,000.
Meritorious Service: Awarded to any member of the Police Department who distinguishes him/herself by performing his/her duties in a manner that clearly exceeds what is normally required or expected or for a highly creditable police accomplishment.
Meritorious Service Awards for 2011: Corporal James Schwartz
During the last seven years Corporal James Schwartz has been a member of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI). During his tenure Cpl Schwartz has risen to the position of Maryland NADDI Chapter President. Because of Cpl Schwartz’s participation in NADDI the Ocean City Police Department has been the recipient of $32,000 in grant money for drug diversion investigations.
Meritorious Service Award for 2011: DFC Todd Speigle
On May 28, 2011 Detective Speigle was assigned to investigate the assault and attempted robbery of DFC Murray and DFC Johns, during which Johns was seriously injured. DFC Speigle conducted an exhaustive investigation, which included 20 separate interviews. DFC Speigle eventually gained confessions in the planned robbery of the Narcotics Detectives.
Bronze Star: Awarded to any member of the Police Department who distinguishes him/herself by displaying courage and devotion to duty.
Bronze Star Award for 2011: CPL James Schwartz
Based on the department’s priority enforcement in the St Louis Avenue area, Corporal James Schwartz initiated a CDS investigation that concluded with 39 hand-to-hand purchases and 11 controlled purchases of CDS. This investigation also extended into Wicomico County where Schwartz purchased a firearm. Twenty suspects were indicted in this case leading to 60 criminal charges.
Bronze Star Award for 2011: DFC Jeffrey Johns
During the winter of 2010 the mid-town area of Ocean City was experiencing a rash of burglaries, during which flat screen televisions were being stolen. While conducting a CDS investigation, Detective Johns happened to mention to a drug dealer that he would like to purchase a television. DFC Johns eventually purchased two flat screen televisions, which were determined to be stolen from burglaries being investigated by the patrol division. During the course of this investigation a total of nine suspects were arrested. Property recovered during the service of several search and seizure warrants included: 11 flat screen televisions, one shotgun, two DVD players and an MP3 docking station. A total of $40,000 in restitution was ordered to the victims by the court.
SILVER STAR: Awarded to any member of the police department who distinguishes him/herself conspicuously by gallantry and at the risk of his/her life.
Silver Star Award for 2011: Corporal Rick Wawrzeniak
On December 10, 2010 Corporal Rick Wawrzeniak observed Marvin Mitchell actively assaulting his wife with a knife. Cpl Wawrzeniak took quick and decisive action and neutralized Mitchell by gunfire, saving the life of four persons.
MEDAL OF VALOR: Awarded to any member of the Police Department who has been killed, seriously wounded, or injured in the performance of his/her duties
Medal of Valor Award for 2011: DFC Jeffrey Johns
On May 28, 2011, DFC Johns and Murray engaged subjects on the boardwalk in a conversation to buy drugs. Hours later DFC Murray and DFC Johns met with subject on St. Louis Avenue to complete the purchase. During this drug deal the suspect dealers attempted a robbery of Murray and Johns. During this robbery attempt, DFC Johns was struck in the back of the head with a one foot long, 4×4 piece of wood. As a result of this on-duty injury, Johns was transported to the hospital where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for one week and a second week under general care. Johns suffered a significant injury as a result of this planned robbery.
The Ocean City Police Department would like to thank the citizens of Ocean City and the 8 Neighborhood Watch groups and their area coordinators for taking their time to recognize the officers of their police department and especially maintaining the very special partnership between the citizens of Ocean City and their police.
No pictures are available at this time.