BALTIMORE – Last Friday the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office took the time to honor law enforcement officers for their work on federal violent crime cases with an elaborate ceremony. With the event’s theme, “This is a Particularly Good Time to Thank a Police Officer,” the federal courts showcased how local, state and federal police and […]
BALTIMORE – Last Friday the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office took the time to honor law enforcement officers for their work on federal violent crime cases with an elaborate ceremony.
With the event’s theme, “This is a Particularly Good Time to Thank a Police Officer,” the federal courts showcased how local, state and federal police and prosecutors worked together to combat violent crime in Maryland.
The 112 police officers, prosecutors and agents were recognized for their outstanding work that resulted in significant federal violent crime prosecutions.
Recipients included police officers from Annapolis, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Bowie, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Takoma Park, and Washington, D.C. in the Ceremonial Courtroom at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Assistant State’s Attorneys from Prince George’s County, Lisa K. Man and Joseph C. Ruddy were also recognized.
The Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court also held a press conference in front of the courthouse following the ceremony at noon. The reception prior to the event at 9 a.m. in the courthouse served as a reunion for most police departments who worked on cases together and hadn’t seen one another since then.
“The attorney general has repeatedly talked about her commitment to supporting law enforcement and this was an opportunity for us to demonstrate our support and appreciation,” District U.S. attorney Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein said. “All of these officers worked on significant federal cases and they were nominated federal prosecutors who got to see firsthand the extraordinary work that they did. The remarkable thing is this is just a fraction of the officers we work with on an annual basis and 99 percent of the time they do exemplary work, they do the right thing and get no credit for it.”
The honorees participated in the investigation and prosecution of more than 25 violent crime cases involving more than 70 defendants. In addition to investigators, several of the nominees were evidence technicians or computer specialists who collected and analyzed evidence that led to the convictions of these defendants.
Rosenstein commended all the honorees for their work on these violent crime investigations and thanked the assistant United States attorneys who prosecuted the cases and nominated their agents for these awards. In addition to keynote speaker Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, agency representatives who also participated in the awards ceremony included Prince George’s County Police Deputy Chief Hector Velez, Annapolis Police Chief Michael A. Pristoop, Bowie Police Chief John Nesky, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Mosby said she is humbled by the recognition of the numerous police departments in the region and is especially proud of her two assistant attorneys who were honored during the ceremony.
“These are the public servants who risk their lives day in and day out for us. This is our opportunity to say thank you, you are appreciated for the commitment, the sacrifice, the dedication that they serve, not only from time away from their families but every day,” Mosby said. “Today I had two assistants that were honored, assistant state attorneys. One was my division chief who has worked collaborate with the government to get some of these worst of worsts off the streets.”
Bowie Police Department officers John Lee, Sgt. Robert Stevenson and Eugene White were recognized by the attorney’s office for stopping a motorcyclist who robbed a local Pizza Hut. Nesky was excited about his police squad’s recognition.
“The officers arrived pretty quickly and it turns out that it was the guy’s third time up for violent crimes and gun charges, so the case went federal,” Nesky said. “This the first time they are receiving recognition at a federal level. It’s a celebration of the partnership and it shows that we are able to stand with our piers in the law enforcement community as equals, gain respect, do our part and contribute.”
Stevenson greatly appreciated the honor.
“They say this is a thankless job, so it is always good anytime you get recognized,” Stevenson said.
All three officers said they were in disbelief at the Pizza Hut robbery because crimes don’t occur in the typically safe community.
White was in the parking lot patrolling when a citizen ran out of the Pizza Hut and said it was being robbed.
“I asked them for a description of the person and he said he just hopped on a motorcycle, so I took off chasing him,” White said. “Another officer confirmed that it was a robbery and that he did have a handgun so we chased him for about 30 to 45 minutes. Then he had an accident, fell off his motorcycle, and we took him into custody.”
The suspect was headed up MD-301 South, made a u-turn onto north MD-301, and eventually turned onto Central Avenue. He proceeded to drive through some neighborhoods doing about 20 mph.
“I was able to keep up with him so I chased him for the first 30 minutes alone,” White said. “By the time he went onto central avenue we had 20 cars with us and by the time he crashed on the beltway we had about 50 cars with us, including the Prince George’s Police Department, state police and park police. About five different agencies were there to help.”
The county police department received an award for making seven arrests in a yearlong case of 20 to 25 7-eleven robberies throughout the D.C. area dating back to 2012.
“It was a long case and it was to the point to where it was easier to figure out which 7-elevens they hadn’t robbed as opposed to the ones they did rob. The top guy went to trial, lost and was sentenced to about 67 years in prison,” said Prince George’s County detective Paul Mazzei. “Some of the municipalities, D.C. police, Montgomery County Police, City of Bowie Police, Greenbelt Police, got involved because they were robbing 7-elevens all over the place. It wasn’t spur of the moment stuff. It was extremely organized.”
Mazzei said the best part about solving these types of cases is the ability for all of the different police departments to work together.
“I think it is neat to have an award, take a picture and shake hands, but it is even better to have business owners and citizens to be able to go somewhere without having to worry about getting robbed or having a gun stuck in their face,” Mazzei said. “It is necessary to show the public the positive side is always there. Here is 100 people working behind the scenes to make things safer.”