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Memorial tribute and awards ceremony held in National Police Week observance

May 13, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

In observance of National Police Week, the Hagerstown Police Department on Wednesday handed out awards and paid memorial tribute to officers who have died in the line of duty,

During an outdoor awards ceremony at the police department, Police Chief Arthur Smith recognized three city police officers, two civilians and four members of the Hagerstown Heightened Enforcement Accountability and Treatment team, a component of the C-SAFE initiative, for their efforts during the last year.

Three people were recognized for their response to a fatal shooting at the Washington Gardens housing complex on March 14.

Smith said officers Tom Bartles and Jeffrey Pepple were awarded the Life Saving Award for their attempts to resuscitate Jonathan M. Dennis, 19, of Cleveland Avenue in Waynesboro, Pa., who was shot there following a party.

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Dr. Ruth Dwyer, who was riding with the officers that night, received a Civilian Award for her assistance at the scene.

"They decided they were not going to let it go," Smith said. "It was not for lack of skill or effort that he expired."

Azaniah Blankumsee, 25, faces multiple charges in connection with the shooting and is still at large.

Officer Gerard Kendle received the Award of Merit, First Degree, for his April 1 attempt to serve an arrest warrant on Troy R. Ferguson.

Ferguson began struggling with Kendle in a Maryland Parole and Probation office and eventually struck him with a Dodge Durango when the violent struggle moved outside, Smith said.

"He got (Ferguson's) jacket, shirt and two cell phones before he was done," Smith said. "It took a Durango to stop him."

Ferguson was arrested a few days later in Baltimore.

Also in the ceremony, Ben Ros received the Certificate of Appreciation for translating for a Spanish-speaking man injured during a fall from a Wesel Boulevard construction site on March 24.

Members of the HEAT team were recognized for issuing 35 percent of the state's parole violation warrants during a six-month period starting in 2003. The agents recognized were Bobbie Jo Fockler, Richelle Scrugham, Ian Willock and Rick Growden, an agent with the Division of Juvenile Services.

Smith said it was important to continue holding the ceremony annually because it commends officers and civilians for jobs well done, something many of those in attendance rarely experience. He said most active officers endure verbal or physical abuse more often than they receive a compliment.

"Police don't get a lot of positive feedback during their duties," Smith said. "We lock people up and take them to jail. That makes them mad."

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