Officer has good start in 2nd week going solo Finksburg native arrests suspect in bank robbery on Beltway in first week

July 07, 1996|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

Rookie Officer Christopher Ament sits up front at the 3 p.m. roll call Monday at Northern District station.

The Orioles are playing the Blue Jays on television, and Ament and his fellow county police officers don't want to miss rookie pitcher Rocky Coppinger.

Watching the game is put on hold, though, as Sgt. Jonathon Church walks in, turns off the TV and gets down to business.

He is brief: A couple of stolen license tags, cars, bicycles, a missing-person report. Officers are to keep a lookout. Roll call is over in 10 minutes, and the officers are turned loose to work the streets.

Ament, 26, who graduated from the police academy in March, is in his second week of patrolling solo.

His first-week was one for the books. Ament -- with the help of an FBI agent and another county officer -- arrested a suspect fleeing the Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust in the 7300 block of Ritchie Highway with a shopping bag filled with cash.

Ament heard a call for help and a description of the getaway car and its direction.

Thinking he might cut off the robber, Ament headed for Ritchie Highway. But the rookie made a wrong turn and wound up heading west, instead of east, on the Baltimore Beltway. He spotted the car described in the radio broadcast just west of the Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard exit.

"As soon as I merged in with traffic, I saw the vehicle," said Ament.

Ament winces over attention from the incident, but his bosses aren't surprised.

Acting Lt. Paul Tabor recalled Ament's demeanor his first day on the job.

"He had that gleam in his eye, that hungry look, and I think his other supervisors would concur that he was going to be a good one. And he hasn't disappointed us yet," said Tabor.

"He's got 29 years ahead of him, and I think he's got a great career ahead of him," said Officer Wayne Vernon, who trained Ament at the Northern District station.

This day, with the Orioles on their way to a 7-4 win, Ament heads outside to cruiser 649. It's a muggy day. He flips on the air conditioner and loads the squad car: a red crate filled with police files to complete and a tiny cooler filled with snacks.

No sooner is he finished loading than his radio crackles to life: A tractor-trailer truck has ripped down telephone wires at Holy Trinity Church on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard in Glen Burnie. That's Ament's area, at least this day.

He makes the short trip to the church, where he meets Bill Bender, Holy Trinity's business manager, and Bill Truslow, and follows them into the alley. They show where a truck ripped down the lines at the church hall.

Truslow tells Ament he tried to chase the driver in his own truck to let him know what he did, but he couldn't catch the driver, whom he thinks he has seen before in the area.

Ament patiently listens and fills out a report. Then he's back on the road. It's a day of routine calls, including neighborhood disputes.

Ament grew up in Finksburg, where he still lives -- though he and Meg King, 25, his fiancee and college sweetheart, plan to move to Odenton.

When he attended Frostburg State University, Ament had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. But after 20 ride-alongs during college breaks with Baltimore County Officer Jimmy Boston, a school chum from North Carroll High School, Ament decided to become a policeman, too.

Ament said he can't give a good reason for choosing a law enforcement career. But Boston thinks he knows: the adrenaline rush of not knowing what's going to happen from minute to minute, and a desire to help people.

Boston learned about Ament's arrest of the bank robbery suspect by reading about it in the newspaper.

"I said, 'Ah, my boy Chris is out there catching bank robbers now.' "

Pub Date: 7/07/96

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