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Trooper receives award

April 04, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class David A. Harper may be calm and cool when dealing with various law enforcement duties, but all it takes to make him squirm is being in the spotlight.

Harper was presented Thursday with one of five statewide merit awards by a Maryland law enforcement group.

Harper received the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers Inc. Merit Award for distinguished service in 2004. Among his achievements in 2004 were stopping 760 vehicles, issuing 809 traffic citations, investigating 46 accidents and charging 12 people with drug offenses, according to information released by state police.

"You do your job and don't expect anything, but when you're rewarded like this, it's nice," Harper said.

Harper, a 10-year veteran of state police who has been based in Hagerstown since 1996, said the incident he was most proud of last year was his investigation of a shoplifting complaint at Valley Mall that led to the breaking open of several cases in the Tri-State region. During a vehicle search, Harper said he found a small piece of a cash register.

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"Eventually, (the suspects) broke and admitted to doing three separate burglaries. We were able to close all those cases because of a little piece of cash register," Harper said. "They didn't even know where they did the burglaries."

Since Harper's busy schedule would not allow him to attend an awards luncheon March 16, Maryland State Police superintendent Col. Thomas E. Hutchins brought it to the Hagerstown barrack for a private ceremony last week.

Harper said he was flattered by that gesture.

"It's important for us, as leaders, to pause and recognize them," Hutchins said. Hutchins said Harper is the only state police officer to receive an award from the group this year.

Harper, flanked by his wife and children, said he is severely uncomfortable with being the center of attention.

"When people run up to me with a camera and ask what's going on, I tell them to talk to somebody else," Harper said.

His father, Jim Harper, who worked out of the state police's Frederick, Md., barrack for about 21 years, was at the presentation.

"He doesn't like the fanfare," Jim Harper said. "He goes out, and he works. That's all the agency asks of you."

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