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Support of reservist earns award for police

February 27, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Police Department was honored Tuesday for its treatment and support of Hagerstown Police Officer Douglas Lee Garner, a petty officer 1st class in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Retired Maj. Gen. Boyd M. Cook of Boonsboro, representing the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, presented the Department of Defense Certificate of Appreciation during Tuesday's Hagerstown City Council meeting. Most of the committee members are retired military officers, Cook said.

Garner, 33, nominated the department for the award, which recognizes employers supportive of National Guard members and reservists.

The city hired Garner as an officer in January 1998. He has been a reservist since 2000, Garner said.

While talking with other reservists, it became clear to him that his employer was more supportive than many others, Garner said in an interview before the meeting.

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Department employees are flexible about changing his schedule to meet the Reserve demands, he said.

Sometimes he has to give as little as 72 hours notice that he won't be able to work because of Reserve responsibilities, he said. While this probably complicates his supervisors' lives, the changes are made without complaint, he said.

Police Chief Arthur Smith said the department appreciates the recognition but companies and governments are required by law to give reservists time off when they're needed.

Garner said the recognition is not about meeting the legal requirements but the city's attitude.

Employees are patriotic, supportive and helpful, even offering to shovel his walk if he is away during a storm, he said.

"They ask me if there is any way they can help out," he said.

"We try to do our best," Smith said.

Garner said he was in the U.S. Navy for about 10 years before leaving to fulfill his lifelong ambition to become a police officer.

But he missed the Navy work so joining the Reserve was a way for him to do both police and Navy work, he said.

"He is a hard worker," Smith said. "I think the military skills and the police skills have a little overlap."

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