Honors go to those who risk lives in public safety jobs



Several of the awards given out Friday at the 2006 Public Health & Safety Day "Recognition of Excellence" Awards were tied to the case of slain Roxbury Correctional Institution Officer Jeffery Alan Wroten.

Police officers, dispatchers and another correctional officer who played a part in the case were among the honorees at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.

HCC's Administration of Justice Program sponsors the annual awards.

This time, about 50 local police department and correctional and detention center employees were chosen, plus a few civilians.

In his keynote address, Col. Thomas E. Hutchins, Maryland's state police superintendent, said this is law enforcement's most challenging era ever, particularly with terrorism having reached American soil.


He praised honorees' families, too.

"They live with the changing shifts, the changing moods and the slow-to-change paychecks," Hutchins said.

Roxbury Correctional Institution Warden Roderick R. Sowers said Wroten, like many in the audience, chose public safety.

"That's what he wanted to do - protect the public," Sowers said, concluding, "Thank you, Jeff." The audience stood and applauded.

Wroten was guarding RCI inmate Brandon Travon Morris at Washington County Hospital on Jan. 26 when Morris allegedly took Wroten's gun and shot him in the head. Wroten died the next day.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith recognized 11 officers and two dispatchers who helped that "very hectic, very confused" day.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Col. Douglas Mullendore said his deputies' radios worked poorly that cold, dark morning, keeping them from talking to each other.

He compared the chase for Wroten's armed suspected killer to "being in the woods and looking for a grizzly bear - only the grizzly bear had a gun."

Gary M. Lloyd of Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown was honored for helping after the shooting. Like Wroten, Lloyd, a correctional officer, was guarding an inmate at the hospital, three rooms away. Warden Nancy L. Rouse described his effort as "courageous."

One civilian honored was Ralph Wayne Hamby, who rushed to aid his neighbor, Cathy Myers, when she was shot at her Kemps Mill Road home in 2004. Myers accompanied Hamby on the HCC stage.

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