Congratulations to Cornelius J. Behan. At a ceremony in Sun Valley, Idaho, the Baltimore County police chief recently received the first John M. Penrith Award from the FBI's international center for law enforcement executives.
The award, which recognizes Mr. Behan's contributions to the police profession, came with a crystal eagle and a check for $5,000. It is made in memory of a slain burglary victim whose son now heads the FBI's Newark office.
"Neil has that kind of respect. He is viewed as a mentor in law enforcement," said Bobby R. Gillham, who directs the bureau's Maryland-Delaware office. He nominated Chief Behan.
The county's top cop is nationally recognized for his vocal support of rational gun control policies and of community policing techniques. His department's ROPE and COPE programs -- Repeat Offender Program Experiment and Citizen-Oriented Police Enforcement -- have attracted law enforcement visitors from across the country and Europe and Asia.
The FBI's National Executive Institute Associates that presented him with the Penrith Award includes 450 law enforcement executives from the nation's major police agencies (including, in Maryland, the State Police, Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George's county police departments).
A Queens, N.Y. native who as a boy admired the neighborhood beat cop, Neil Behan began his career as a New York City patrolman in 1946. He rose through the ranks to become the third-ranking police official there before leaving to become chief of the Baltimore County Police Department in 1977. When then-County Executive Ted Venetoulis hired him, county politicians and other laymen were duly impressed with his professional accomplishments.
His peers are marveling still.