Police rookie off to a quick start Officer closes first case even before graduation

November 04, 1996|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Police training paid off for rookie Officer Phil Kasten of Carroll County even before his graduation last week, when he helped bring a suspect to book in an armed robbery at a Hampstead convenience store.

Kasten, 22, received his diploma Friday night in ceremonies at River Hill High School in Clarksville, site of the Howard County Police Academy graduation. The ceremony marked the end of a nine-month program that included 20 weeks of classroom studies and 15 weeks of field training.

After about 10 weeks in the field, Kasten joined the Hampstead Police Department last month. He was on duty and first on the scene after a gunman walked into the High's store on Main Street about 10: 40 p.m. Oct. 16 and demanded money.

Kasten was reluctant to take credit for his role in investigating the crime.

"I had a lot of help from more experienced officers in Baltimore and Howard counties, as well as the advice of my chief [Ken Meekins], my sergeant [Earl R. Horne Jr.], and citizens," Kasten said Thursday, the day after he escorted two witnesses to the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, where they identified a prisoner as the man who had robbed them in Hampstead.

Paul Hamby, 32, of the first block of Bowers Lane in Glyndon, was arrested after a 25-mile high-speed chase from northern Baltimore County into Baltimore Oct. 22, authorities said.

Baltimore County officers recognized the suspect from a composite sketch created through descriptions from the clerks at the High's store in Hampstead and other key information developed by Kasten.

Hamby faces charges in Baltimore County stemming from "at least three robberies," said Cpl. Kevin B. Novak, a police spokesman. Howard County police have filed a detainer to have him returned there to face robbery charges.

Kasten said he had not yet filled out charging documents for Hamby in Carroll because he was too busy with rehearsals and other preparation for his graduation.

The rookie officer admitted feeling satisfaction after his witnesses identified the suspect Wednesday night.

"It was a great team effort from everyone involved," said Kasten, who added that he is looking forward to settling into the routine of working in Hampstead.

"I believe I have received the best [police] training in the state in Howard County, but it will be good to be finished with training and exams and get to work."

Kasten and his wife, Kay, live in Westminster. He is a 1991 graduate of Mount Hebron High School in Howard County and served in the Marine Corps.

He went to work for a security company and took community college courses, biding his time while he waited to get into the police academy.

"I've wanted [a job in law enforcement] since high school, because I enjoy working with people," he said. "I like the interaction and being a role model."

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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