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Back on the street

Hagerstown Police Sgt. George Knight missed only nine work days after being grazed by a bullet.

Hagerstown Police Sgt. George Knight missed only nine work days after being grazed by a bullet.

October 23, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Nine days off work was enough for Hagerstown Police Sgt. George Knight.

After getting grazed on the forehead by a bullet during his midnight shift on Sept. 17, Knight said Tuesday night he had to get back on the street.

"It was very important. The longer I was off the street ... I thought about the what-ifs and what could have happened," Knight said Tuesday night in an interview before being honored by Hagerstown's mayor and City Council at City Hall.

Knight, 47, was patrolling the city's HotSpot high-crime area at 4:12 a.m. on Sept. 17 when he noticed two men standing at the intersection of Charles and Boward streets.

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Knight got out of his patrol car and started approaching the men when they fled. One of the suspects pulled out a handgun and fired at Knight.

The suspects have eluded capture.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said the department has put more resources into this case than any other since he took the job three years ago.

"We're working it to death," Smith said.

"It's important to make a point," Smith said. "This is important down the road for setting a precedent."

Knight said the officers working his shooting did a "fantastic" job that night.

Knight said he returned to work and to the street on Sept. 30.

"At first it was a little uncomfortable," Knight said. "Especially going back to the area, the scene of the shooting."

"To be honest, I went back and exorcised a few demons" around the same time of night that the shooting occurred, Knight said.

"It was a little unnerving to look at the area again and to look back on what happened," Knight said.

The Oct. 10 shooting of West Virginia State Police Trooper R.J. Elswick brought back some of Knight's bad memories - the "what-ifs and what could have happened," he said.

"He's still fighting for his life," Knight said. "I was lucky. He was unfortunate."

Elswick was responding to a domestic battery call in the Hedgesville, W.Va., area around 9 p.m. and was talking to another officer outside the home about how to make entry when a man came out of the house and started firing at them, Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said.

Elswick was hit once in the head. He remained in critical condition Tuesday night at Washington County Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Knight said he and other local police officers have spoken to Elswick's co-workers as they keep vigil at the hospital.

"We're there trying to give them as much support as we can, in the condition he's in," Knight said.

Knight said being shot has not changed his retirement plans, which are not to retire anytime soon.

As a 21-year veteran of the police force, Knight said he was eligible to retire at the end of September.

Besides being a supervisor of Charlie platoon, Knight has served the department's Criminal Investigations Division and narcotics unit. He also has served on the Washington County Narcotics Task Force.

Knight is a firearms instructor and Western Maryland Police Training Academy instructor.

Knight is training to be a critical incident commander, Mayor William Breichner told about 50 people gathered to watch Knight receive a city proclamation for his service to the community.

When Breichner finished reading the proclamation, Knight received a standing ovation from the audience, many of whom were his co-workers.

"It's nice to be rewarded or honored for the work we do," Knight said before the meeting began.

The "real heroes," he said, are the patrol men and women driving cruisers and on the street every day and night, including weekends and holidays.

Knight admitted that includes him. Despite being a supervisor, Knight takes his turn with other patrol men and women on the street.

"But, they're the ones that handle the majority of calls," he said.

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