Above and beyond duty's call

County police to honor 11 officers, 4 residents tonight for efforts

May 03, 2000|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Police Cpl. Earl Fox jumped into a fiery car to pull out an elderly woman trapped inside.

Officer Jeffrey Morgan didn't hesitate to plunge into a creek in uniform to save a suicidal woman -- who was rescued because she was so busy arguing with Morgan she didn't hear firefighters pull up in a boat.

And Sgt. Rhonda Osborne and Detective Valerie Mills volunteered to battle a drunk woman armed with a butcher knife.

For being so willing to make a sacrifice -- even of their safety -- these officers will be honored tonight at the Anne Arundel County Police banquet.

Eleven officers and four citizens will receive awards from Anne Arundel County Police Chief P. Thomas Shanahan for going above and beyond the call of duty.

"I'm proud of this department," Shanahan said. "It's hard to select who to single out. Our committee anguishes over how to pick just one. We can't recognize all of them, so these are just some."

Cpl. Richard Morris will be given the top honor -- the Chief's Award for Job Excellence -- for his dedicated service.

In 24 years as an officer -- six with Baltimore City police and 18 with Anne Arundel County -- Morris has consistently been one of his shift's top performers, Shanahan said.

During the past year, Morris arrested 29 motorists for driving while intoxicated and made 49 criminal arrests -- including helping arrest four homicide suspects, police said. In another case, Morris is credited with recovering illegal handguns and the seizure of $12,000 worth of crack cocaine.

But what's also impressive, said Shanahan, is "I never hear a complaint about him -- from anyone. There's never an allegation of brutality on his cases."

Everyone who works with Morris says he is one of those officers who enjoys police work. "He doesn't do it for us," Shanahan said. "He does it for the love of the job."

Morris, a 45-year-old Anne Arundel County native, is married to a corporal in the Western District, Gloria Morris. She attributes some of her husband's success to his ability to deal with people -- honestly and without judging them.

"I think he treats people the way he would want his family to be treated if they had to deal with the police," she says.

Not only does he have a distinguished record as a police officer, the father of three also "cooks, cleans, even does the dishes," she says.

Officers Marion Moss and Jason Wells will be recognized for spending so much time to make one community successful. They've even volunteered to pick up trash in the neighborhood.

For Wells, a four-year Western District veteran, nearly his entire career has been spent in Pioneer City and Meade Village, where he serves as a Police and Community Together officer.

He and Moss bike the neighborhood, clean the neighborhood, march in neighborhood vigils -- even spend some days off there.

"I feel like I have a vested interest in seeing the community succeed," Wells said.

He and Moss have worked with property managers to improve housing, state motor vehicle officials to track stolen cars and stolen tags, and most recently sought and received a grant for a part-time drug counselor to help those in the area recovering from addictions.

In three years, violent crimes have decreased by 30 percent on Moss and Wells' beat.

Detective Valerie Mills and Sgt. Rhonda Osborne said they don't feel as though their heroic act -- disarming a drunk, suicidal woman who was waving a butcher knife -- deserves special recognition.

"It's nice to be acknowledged," Mills said. "But we just did our job."

In the October case, that meant jeopardizing their lives, police commanders said.

Police had been negotiating with the Glen Burnie woman and she was supposed to have dropped the knife when she came to the door. Instead, she was holding it at her bleeding throat.

"We had to do something and we had to do it fast," said Osborne, a 10-year department veteran.

In an instant, Osborne grabbed the knife while Mills grabbed the woman's body and secured her so she couldn't hurt herself any more. She was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Officers Stephen Taylor and John Yang risked their lives to save a 17-year-old Seven Oaks boy who was standing on the edge of a roof, threating to jump in February 1999.

Taylor and Yang climbed on the rain-slicked roof to talk the teen into coming inside. Instead, the boy ran toward Taylor, who struggled to hold the boy as Yang struggled to hold on to Taylor.

In the end, the officers were able to bring the distraught teen back into the house and transport him to the hospital.

He's not the first boy Taylor, who now works undercover, has saved. A few years ago, he rescued an 8-year-old boy in Glen Burnie from a pack of pit bulls.

In April 1999, Detective Thomas Kohlmann had a feeling he was looking at a wanted suspect when he saw the man -- wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey -- running down Generals Highway where there just had been a report of a shooting.

"It broke my heart he was wearing a Cowboys shirt," Kohlmann said. "But it was just intuition that this was the guy."

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