Officers win awards for aiding youths, fighting drugs

April 30, 1993|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer

A Howard County policeman who helps young people both a work and in his off-duty hours, and a Baltimore County officer who shut down a drug-distribution house on his beat were named winners yesterday of The Baltimore Sun Police Officer of the Year awards.

Howard County Officer 1st Class Charles M. Gable -- a former narcotics investigator who finds runaways and works with their families through his department's Youth Services Section -- received the award for community service.

The grandson of Baltimore Patrolman John B. Bealefeld, who was fatally injured in the line of duty in 1945, Officer Gable, 41, ran Project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs in Howard County public and parochial schools during working hours. His several off-duty efforts include being the volunteer adviser to the Youth Services Explorer Scout post.

Baltimore County Officer Kenneth P. Nacke, 32, was honored for excellence in law enforcement. A leader in his Essex precinct in drunken-driving cases, he also made 16 arrests for narcotics violations, 11 for breaking and entering, eight for grand theft, three for attempted murder and one for rape last year.

"It should be noted," his captain said in nominating Officer Nacke, "that on the average he makes an arrest every other work day; this is probably unmatched."

On his beat in the high-crime Maple Crest area, the department said, Officer Nacke devised a plan to watch over the neighborhood from a vacant apartment, taking notes on comings and goings and identifying drug-distribution centers.

The result was a raid with the seizure of sizable quantities of cash, drugs and firearms, and nine felony arrests.

The winners were chosen for the newspaper's 36th annual police awards by a panel of judges from among 62 men and women across the state who carry the badge of law enforcement. All were nominated by their departments for extraordinary accomplishments.

Nominees included officers -- men and women -- who acted with heroism, compassion and diligence. Two of the nominees were Baltimore policemen wounded by gunfire in unrelated incidents last year: Sgt. Frederick Dillon and Officer James E. Young Jr.

Police-community partnership was a theme of the awards luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel in Towson, attended by the nominees and spouses, police chiefs and top government officials.

The winners -- who were not told of their selection ahead of time -- each received an engraved crystal bowl and a check for $1,000, as well as embraces from wives who could barely contain tears.

"When I saw the resume, I couldn't believe everything he's done," said Marci Nacke. "All those hours of overtime I hollered at him about."

The Nackes have two young children, the oldest a 4-year-old son, Justin, who "says he's going to do what I do," said Officer Nacke, a five-year police veteran.

Officer Gable began his career as an aviation officer at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and joined the Howard County force in 1974. As a specialist in young runaways, he said he gets "pleasure out of finding someone who thinks they won't be located," and encourages parents to overcome barriers separating them from their children.

"What I tell parents is, 'Something made your child leave -- there's no open line of communication.' "

Officer Gable and his wife, Anna, are awaiting the birth of their first child. "See me in 20 years and I'll tell you how successful we were," he said.

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