For the second time in three years, the Maryland State Police Alumni Association has selected a trooper from the Westminster barracks -- the state's largest -- as its 1997 Trooper of the Year.
Tfc. Chris Hannon, 36, who works road patrol in Carroll County, also is one of 12 finalists for the agency's 1997 Trooper of the Year award, which will be presented next month.
Hannon's involvement in making arrests in several high-profile cases, including a double homicide in Hampstead, and his performance in day-to-day burglary and theft investigations earned him the alumni association's top award.
"Chris is steady as a rock and strong as a bull," said 1st Sgt. Andy Mays. "I've known him to work double shifts on his own time, just to solve a case. He is a role model for younger troopers, an example of what a trooper should be day in and day out."
Retired Detective Sgt. Wilbur Wells, president of the alumni association, said the honor is earned -- not won -- from among the 1,614 male and female troopers employed at barracks throughout the state. The award will be presented at a May 13 luncheon in Annapolis.
In nominating Hannon, Sgt. Gloria Wilson, his shift supervisor, said his "exceptional skills and investigative techniques" enabled him to close 52 criminal cases and make 68 arrests, including 20 juveniles who were charged with 167 crimes.
Wilson listed several of Hannon's accomplishments in 1997 in her written nomination:
Hannon solved a rash of vehicle thefts, break-ins and burglaries by his attention to detail. He obtained a fingerprint from a plastic lighter fluid dispenser found at a crime scene that enabled him to close seven additional cases.
He was the first trooper to arrive at the scene of a double homicide in Hampstead on June 14, and observed the armed suspect running from the yard of one of the victims.
He caught the man, helped detectives question him, and elicited a confession.
He was on patrol in May when three armed suspects sped away after robbing a Hampstead convenience store.
Hannon chased the vehicle for about five miles before making the apprehension with the help of other troopers and officers. Two other armed robberies that month were solved because of the arrests.
He was familiar with a juvenile who escaped in February 1997 from a Montgomery County mental health facility and went on a weekend crime spree in Carroll County. Hannon's investigation led to an air and land search resulting in the teen-ager's arrest. He was turned over to Hannon for questioning, and the boy's confession helped solve 16 felonies.
Hannon responded to 581 service calls last year, including 65 criminal investigations. He also made 487 traffic stops.
Hannon, who lives in Catonsville, appears shy and mild-mannered, which has prompted Wilson to call him Superman after the alter ego of Clark Kent. He blushes easily and, with his wire-rimmed glasses, could easily pass for a banker or business executive.
He said he loves the diversity of his job at the Westminster barracks, which is staffed by about 100 troopers.
Hannon has worked road patrol in Carroll County since joining the agency nearly 12 years ago after a brief time as a construction worker.
Earning the award means Hannon will receive a $500 U.S. savings bond and will be guest of honor for the alumni association's July picnic and a memorial weekend in September in Ocean City.
"I am very proud to receive an award from those [former troopers] who have been there and done what I do," Hannon said.
Cpl. Ronald W. Cullison won both the alumni and state police honors in 1995, and Tfc. Douglas W. Reitz, also of the Westminster barracks, won the agency's top honor for 1996.
Pub Date: 4/14/98