Capture nets police award for Finksburg teen-ager

Member of Explorer post helped catch suspect

May 25, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

For his quick thinking and calm demeanor in helping apprehend a shoplifting suspect in January, a 19-year-old Finksburg man will receive the Superintendent's Salute award from Col. David B. Mitchell tomorrow at state police headquarters in Pikesville, state police announced yesterday.

Jon Hill, who wants to enter the Maryland State Police academy in July 2000, is a member of Explorer Post 56 at the Westminster barracks and an applicant for the state police cadet program.

Hill said he was at home Jan. 20 when he heard something about shoplifters on his police scanner in the family living room and looked outside to see a deputy sheriff in his yard along Sykesville Road.

Hill went outside and learned that troopers had captured two of three shoplifting suspects who had fled from a Wal-Mart in Eldersburg and were searching for a third.

"I just happened to be wearing my Explorer's uniform, which is similar to the brown state police uniform except the pants are black," Hill recalled yesterday.

After helping to search the area for 30 to 45 minutes, he returned to his yard, intending to look for the suspect in family vehicles parked in the driveway.

"That's when I noticed the garage door was shut," Hill recalled. "I knew I had left it open and then I saw wet footprints on the driveway outside the garage door."

By then, troopers and deputies were no longer in sight, so he opened the garage door and saw a man about 26 years old hiding there.

"I believe he thought I was a trooper, because he immediately said, `You got me, I won't give you any trouble,' " Hill said.

"I said, `Good, put your hands in the air where I can see them,' and he did."

Perhaps Hill's size -- he is 6 feet 6 inches and towered over the 6-foot suspect -- persuaded the man not to attempt to fight or run.

The standoff didn't end there.

Hill could see a state police cruiser 200 yards down Sykesville Road, but couldn't get anyone's attention.

"After about three minutes, I told the guy to come out and start walking toward the trooper's car," Hill said. "I was going to use the radio in the car to call for assistance."

As Hill marched the suspect -- hands in air -- to the cruiser, a nearby off-duty Anne Arundel County officer, who was assisting in the search, sized up the situation and quickly assisted.

"I got handcuffs from the cruiser, and the Anne Arundel officer made the arrest," Hill said.

Explorers normally do not get involved in enforcement situations, Hill said.

"We are the eyes and ears of the Maryland State Police and assist with safety education, drug awareness programs and help with parking and crowd control at events such as carnivals," he said.

He said he joined the Explorer post after talking to a good friend about wanting to be a state trooper and meeting Tfc. George Noyes, who supervises the program at the Westminster barracks.

Hill is a former baseball, basketball, golf and cross country standout from Liberty High School in Eldersburg and attends Frederick Community College on a baseball scholarship. He is studying criminal justice.

"I had a lot of really good coaches and teachers who helped me as I was growing up and I just want to give something back to the community in the same way they helped me," Hill said. "My parents got me involved in athletics and that kept me busy and out of trouble. I just want to do the same for someone else."

Hill said he realized the Superintendent's Salute will look impressive when he applies for the state police academy, even more than the "Atta Boy" citation he received for printing information about drugs that he saw on the Internet.

"I was at the library and someone else was looking at a Web site," Hill recalled. "As soon as he left, I printed it and turned it over to Sgt. Mike College of the [Carroll County] Drug Task Force."

The "Atta Boy" award recognizes a job well done, Hill said.

Pub Date: 5/25/99

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