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Ribbons show troopers' support for those serving on active duty

March 31, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - They may not be tying yellow ribbons around old oak trees, but Maryland State Police officers are sticking yellow ribbon logos on their cruisers as a show of support for fellow troopers on active military duty.

Last week, the Maryland State Police launched a campaign to raise statewide awareness for all state police personnel serving on active duty in the U.S. military. Col. Thomas E. Hutchins, state police superintendent, announced the department will display a giant yellow ribbon outside of its headquarters in Pikesville, Md., according to a state police news release.

Hutchins also authorized officers to attach a logo with a yellow ribbon combined with the American flag to the rear windshield of every police vehicle in the fleet "for the duration of the war," the release stated.

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Hagerstown barrack-based Trooper Dave Matthews, who has been in the Navy for 18 years and maintains status as a reservist, said it is the second time in less than a year that Hutchins has paid tribute to those police officers who also are military personnel.

"Anything he can do to recognize the people involved with the war, he'll do," said Matthews.

Matthews said the support means a lot to those who serve their country and communities.

"You gotta have that," he said.

Matthews, who serves about 50 active days per year with the military, said being called to go abroad in the current international climate is "always possible." He said 12 members of his unit were called to active duty within months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Matthews said that given the choice between the two, he would rather work where he believes he is most effective - in Washington County.

"As a police officer, no one wants to leave their troop short-handed, but they've always been very supportive," Matthews said.

Matthews said one current Hagerstown-based officer who recently served on active duty in the Middle East is Trooper George Fockler. Fockler could not be reached for comment Monday or Wednesday evenings.

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