Swartwood among law and safety honorees

February 13, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - On the serious side, the annual Law & Safety Day ceremony in Martinsburg is designed to honor outstanding police, fire and rescue personnel for performing difficult and often dangerous jobs.

On the lighter side, it's usually filled with lots of humor.

Such was the case Sunday night when the spotlight was turned on Detective Sgt. George B. Swartwood of the Martinsburg Police Department.

Swartwood has worked for years to put on the annual awards ceremony, and he keeps the event lively with his comments about his law enforcement colleagues.


Sunday night, it was time to drag out the memorable Swartwood stories, like the time Swartwood sent his partner, Kevin Miller, up to a house one night to knock on a door as part of case they were investigating.

Out came a vicious dog, said Rodney Woods, a presenter during the ceremony hosted by the Elks Lodge 778 on King Street in Martinsburg.

Where was Swartwood?

"Sitting safely in the cruiser," Woods said.

Miller rushed from the house and jumped from the dog just as the animal's chain went taut, Woods said.

Miller recalled the time he had to take a bathroom break during a tense moment when he and Swartwood were arresting a man for drug charges.

Miller said after that when he and Swartwood would receive a serious call, Swartwood would turn to him and say, "Well, do you want to go in there and go to the bathroom?"

Swartwood has worked for the Martinsburg Police Department for 23 years, and was credited Sunday night for keeping up the fight against serious crime in the area in the face of staffing cuts in local police departments.

"George is always there when we call on him," said Sgt. Scott Dillon of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.

Swartwood recited the names of officers he has worked with through the years. "You're all family to me," said Swartwood, who received a special honorary award.

Other award recipients were:

  • Patrolman Eric Neely of the Martinsburg Police Department, who was recognized for his high number of arrests among other accomplishments.

  • West Virginia State Police Trooper Z.L. Nine, who was recognized for his criminal investigations and his work to help apprehend a robbery suspect while he was off duty.

  • State Police Trooper J.D. Burkhart, for his high number of arrests while training another officer and other accomplishments.

  • State Police Trooper M.J. Glende, for making a high number of drunken driving arrests and his work on the "Click It or Ticket" campaign.

  • Cpl. Andrew E. Evans, for being a "rock solid" investigator with the local drug and violent crimes task force.

  • Cpl. Brendan Hall, for his investigative work at the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, including five homicide probes last year.

  • Sgt. Thomas H. Hansen Jr., for his work at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department on behalf of children, such as focusing on crimes involving kids.

  • Deputy Seth Place, for being an exceptional officer at the Morgan County Sheriff's Department and putting in so much time there he usually has to be told to go home.

  • Gregory Scappini of the Shepherdstown Police Department.

  • Sgt. John Shade of the Veterans Affairs Police Service for his ability to juggle duties on the job.

  • Sharon Brumback of the Eastern Regional Jail.

  • Kenneth E. White Jr., who was Conservation Officer of the Year in 2005 for the state Department of Natural Resources.

  • Assistant Fire Chief Kirk L. Mongan, who was recognized for his outstanding leadership at the local West Virginia Air National Guard base.

  • Douglas Pittinger, a paramedic who was recognized for his long service at the Martinsburg Fire Department and in Shepherdstown.

  • Michael E. Johnson of the Berkeley County Office of Emergency Services, who was recognized for several efforts, including his work to get state-of-the art protection equipment for local firefighters.
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