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W.Va. officers honored

February 05, 2001

W.Va. officers honored



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Trp. Keith MartinMARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Thirteen law enforcement and rescue personnel were honored by the Martinsburg Elks Lodge 778 during a Law and Safety Day ceremony Sunday night.

They were honored for activities ranging from zealous prosecution of drug offenders and violent criminals, to saving the life of a fellow police officer, providing secretarial and custodial backup to police operations and going well beyond the call of duty to help keep the community safe.

"These are individuals who have contributed to the wall of democracy," said Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes, who gave a brief keynote address. "They keep the enduring dream of our forefathers."

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The group held a moment of silent prayer to honor Berkeley County Sheriff's Deputy John Burkett, killed in the line of duty Wednesday. The dangers of the job were noted by the Rev. Warren Watts of Tri-County Pastoral Counseling. He had been in touch with other chaplains in the country in recent days, he said.

"In talking with them, I learned that three other law enforcement officers have lost their lives since Wednesday," he told the gathering.

Those honored include Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mucklow, lauded as zealous in his fight to prosecute wrongdoers as part of a law enforcement team in the Eastern Panhandle.

The emeritus award was given to Martinsburg's first police chief, Robert K. Price. He helped modernize the department and continues to serve the community, said retired Police Chief Jack Strobridge.

State Trooper Keith Martin was awarded for saving the life of a fellow trooper who was nearly killed in a high-speed chase in October. Part-time Patrolman Michael Dumer of Shepherdstown, W.Va., was praised by his chief, Charles Cole, for his long hours spent on the job and donating a car to the department and his costs of attending the police academy.

Custodian David Ness of the Martinsburg Police Department was noted for 28 years of providing support for the officers and secretary Ronda Michael of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office was honored for 18 years in a support role in that job.

Troopers and other officers also were given awards for their work that led to the arrest and conviction of many criminals.

They included state troopers Scott Dillon, G.S. Petkso and Eric Widmeyer. Cpl. Gary Harmison of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office and long-time Deputy James V. Carbone of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, who volunteered to work recently despite a broken arm and wrist from a fall outside the office.

Lt. George Eversole of the Martinsburg Police Dept. and Sgt. David Bittinger of the Eastern Region Jail also were cited for their hard work on the job.

"The quality of life in any community is measured in part by the services that are provided to protect others," said Det. Sgt. George Swartwood of the Martinsburg Police Department, who helped organize the event for the Elks Club, which has held it since 1995. The Elks Lodge gave $500 to the Bedington Volunteer Fire Dept. for training.

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