FINKSBURG -- Carol Park received a "Good Citizen" award from the Maryland State Police, and she is embarrassed.
An officer was doing a routine check through a neighbor's house where a burglar alarm was sounding, and Park took action when he didn't come out soon enough for her peace of mind.
And she gets an award.
"What did I do?" said Park, who at 42 is a full-time student and mother of two. "I made a phone call, really."
The call she made was to the state police Westminster barracks, and her concern was for Tfc. Ronald Cullison, who contends that Park's thoughtfulness could have saved his life in a potentially dangerous situation.
"It may have seemed small, but this was a situation that very well could have meant life or death for me," said Cullison, who responded to the burglar alarm call. "I was going into a house that could have been broken into, and I had no backup."
When her sons Tommy, 13, and Ian, 10, were safely off to school, Park was called by her neighbor's burglar alarm company around 9 a.m. May 20. She has a key to the home and was on the company's "to call" list in case of an emergency.
After Park called the police, Cullison met her at her neighbor's house and found that the back door was slightly open. Cullison went in to investigate.
After 15 minutes, the alarm was still sounding and Cullison was nowhere in sight.
"I got a little worried about him, so I left a note telling him I was going back to my house to call the police," she said. "It just seemed like a long time. When you're waiting for someone, time drags on forever."
Officers at the barracks used the police radio to contact Cullison, who was calling the owners of the house to find out how to shut off the alarm. He had also done a routine check of the house,
including closets and other areas.
"Because the door had been open, it was possible that someone was still inside," Cullison said. "I was walking into the situation alone and no other cars were available to assist me. Her call may have been the only help I'd get."
But he didn't need it. Park said her neighbor had not shut the back door properly, and the wind had blown it open just wide enough to trip the alarm.
However, Cullison believed Park should be recognized for her concern -- something he says he rarely sees out in the community. She received two certificates -- one from the police department and one from the county.
Park said part of her concern may have stemmed from a knowledge of the dangers involved in police work, which she picked up from her late husband, a Howard County police officer.
"They are a true brotherhood, the officers," she said. "Some of that may have rubbed off on me."
She also maintains she did nothing out of the ordinary.
"What I did was very normal in this community," said Park, who will receive a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Towson State University in December. "There are a lot who really care about the officers and each other."
And while she's still a little embarrassed about the recognition, she hopes it will send a positive message to the Carroll community.
"I am honored I received these, but that's not the point," she said of the certificates on the desk in her home. "We all have to count on each other at one time or another."