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Beyond the call of duty

June 12, 2005|by HEATHER KEELS

heatherk@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Troy McDonough, a Washington County criminal investigator who specializes in child sexual abuse cases, was named Maryland Trooper of the Year Saturday by the Mason-Dixon Exchange Club.

"Trooper McDonough has an exceptional work ethic," Hagerstown Exchange Club President David Walker read from a statement before presenting the award at a conference at the Four Points Sheraton. "He makes a conscious attempt to remedy every investigation. His compassion comforts the victims as he makes his involvement into their misfortune a priority."

Last July, McDonough's compassion helped save a life when he responded to a call about a suicide attempt at the Maryland-Pennsylvania state line. McDonough's plainclothes uniform and friendly voice allowed him to get close enough to a woman attempting to jump from a bridge onto Interstate 81 to grab her by the wrist as she jumped.

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"I was literally holding on to her as she was dangling off the bridge," McDonough said. "I was thinking, 'Don't let go.'"

McDonough held the woman until other troopers could pull her back onto the bridge, earning him a letter of commendation from Pennsylvania State Police.

The compassion also spills over into his work with child abuse cases as an investigator for the Department of Social Services, said Sgt. Steve Ganley, who nominated McDonough for the award.

"He can talk to people in a way that makes it easy for them to share their story," Ganley said.

In 2001, after observing how child abuse victims often had to tell their painful stories over and over to counselors, police, investigators and doctors, McDonough helped found the Washington County Child Advocacy Center, a centralized, child-friendly place where victims can talk to police and receive treatment.

"This way, the child only has to relive their trauma one time," McDonough said.

Since he was assigned to the criminal investigation section in 1998, McDonough has reviewed or investigated every child abuse case state police have handled in Washington County. He also has investigated cases involving burglaries, illegally obtained passports and driver's licenses, and computer-generated traveler's checks.

Prior to transferring to the Hagerstown barrack in 1998, McDonough worked on the Eastern Shore and in Central Maryland.

The 35-year-old father of three lives in a rural area near Clear Spring, where in his spare time he manages his older daughter's softball team and helps coach his son's baseball team.

McDonough's service across the state and his child abuse specialty made him an ideal recipient for the award, said Mary Jo Ashburn, the Hagerstown Exchange Club's secretary.

The Exchange Club is a national service organization that promotes Americanism and community service with a special emphasis on child abuse prevention. The Hagerstown club runs the Parent-Child Center, which offers classes for parents on topics such as "Discipline vs. Punishment" and "Building Your Child's Self-esteem."

This is the first time in more than five years that the Exchange Club has given a Trooper of the Year award in Maryland, Ashburn said.

Also recognized Saturday was Pennsylvania State Trooper James Albert, a criminal investigator who was named Pennsylvania State Police Officer of the Year for his heroism in helping rescue a 6-year-old rape victim from her abductors, and his dedication and family values.

"(McDonough and Albert) are exemplary of their law enforcement roles, and I hope they will be an example to other citizens," Walker said.

But McDonough said his fellow investigators were equally deserving of the award.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is for all of them," he said.

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