911 dispatcher honored at police awards

Dozens are recognized in Glen Burnie ceremony

Anne Arundel

May 19, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

For more than a decade as a dispatcher in Anne Arundel County's 911 center, Rosemary Brewster has worked with police officers. Now she has been honored as if she were one of them.

When she was presented the Chief's Award for Job Excellence, Brewster received a standing ovation from the officers she has directed to traumatized victims, guided to crime scenes, and cheered up during shifts that seemed never to end.

"It doesn't matter when I call in for an update, Rosemary is always pleasant and cheerful. Even in the midst of chaotic situations, she always asks how you are," said Chief P. Thomas Shanahan.

Police say Brewster has a knack for quickly establishing a rapport with those who call 911. Shanahan called her the "go-to person" in the communications room.

"No matter what's happening," he said, "she's unfazed."

During a ceremony Thursday evening at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie, Brewster walked to the podium to receive an award that usually goes to a veteran police officer. She had tears in her eyes as the entire room rose in a crescendo of applause.

"It's the only time I've ever seen her shaken," the chief said.

Brewster, 53, of Glen Burnie began her career as a 911 operator in Howard County in 1987, two years before she joined the Anne Arundel County department.

Raised in Odenton and Glen Burnie, Brewster is the mother of three and a grandmother who says she enjoys the work because it involves helping people.

"I just love it," she said. "I was so surprised to receive the award."

Brewster also was recognized for persuading a suicidal man who had previously threatened to shoot police to surrender to officers last year. But the main reason she was chosen for the top honor was her consistent performance, Shanahan said.

"For the chief's award, I like to choose people who haven't just had a good year, but who have had many years of solid performance," he said. "It's for those who give 100 percent all the time, no matter what. And that's what Rosemary does."

Brewster was among several dozen who received awards, including seven officers given the Silver Star for bravery.

One officer, Brett Blacker, was being honored at a ceremony held by the Annapolis Fire Department at the same time he was recognized by the Police Department for helping to rescue a man from a fiery crash last winter on Bay Ridge Drive. Blacker suffered burns as he tried to pull the man out of the car, police said.

Officer Brad Rattell was recognized for helping to save an infant by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Other officers received awards for solving a rash of car thefts and shutting down drug operations.

The midnight shifts in Southern and Northern districts, the tactical patrol unit in Western District and several investigative divisions, including the auto theft and homicide squads, received unit citations for overall performance.

Nearly a dozen civilians received awards for a range of services, from helping to capture bank robbers to helping save accident victims.

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