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Top public safety performers recognized

May 08, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Lawrence Costanza said he was happy to be "recognized by the good guys" after receiving an award Friday from the Hagerstown Police Department at the 2010 Public Safety Awards.

About 250 people attended the event at Hagerstown Community College to honor the outstanding performance of more than 55 public-safety employees from Hagerstown Police Department, Washington County Sheriff's Department, Maryland State Police, Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown, Maryland Correctional Training Center and Roxbury Correctional Institution.

Costanza was one of a handful of private citizens who were acknowledged for helping police in the line of duty.

"It's no big thing," Costanza said. "I'm proud to be recognized by the good guys."

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith told the audience that Costanza helped apprehend a suicidal man who attacked Hagerstown Police Officer Chris Mikash on July 11.

Smith said the man assaulted Mikash without notice and was in a position to take his service weapon when Costanza stepped in.

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"This became a life and death struggle," Smith said. "Mr. Costanza possibly saved this officer's life."

Smith said Costanza put the man in a "bear hug" until help arrived.

Costanza said after he received the award that Mikash was being "completely professional" with the man before the attack occurred.

He said roughly 30 people just watched as the incident unfolded.

"It's amazing," Costanza said. "An officer was in trouble and people were just standing around."

Costanza said he told Mikash that he was there to help.

"It comes as a matter of course," Costanza said. "If something like that happens, you help them out."

For coming back from his injuries, Smith presented Mikash with the Award of Merit, 1st Degree.

Mikash said after receiving the medal that he suffered wrist and shoulder injuries as a result of the attack and has put the incident behind him.

"I'll continue working the way I always have," Mikash said. "I'm very thankful (Costanza) was there that day and did what he did. It could have turned out differently."

Jeffrey Morgan, an assistant professor of administration of justice at HCC, said Friday marked the 15th year of the event. Each safety service organization presents its own awards, he said. HCC simply provides the venue.

The keynote address was given by William W. Sondervan, professor and executive director of criminal justice administration and affiliate programs at the University of Maryland University College.

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