In December, Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry honored 11 retirees and 60 award recipients in private ceremonies at the CCSO Headquarters in La Plata. Honorees were recognized for their service to the Agency, excellent field work, or acts of bravery. “Despite having to cancel our annual banquet due to the pandemic, we could not let the year pass without stopping to honor these women and men who served the community so well,” said Sheriff Berry. “To our retirees who served a combined total of 273 years and to our award recipients: thank you for your contributions to this Agency and its mission. We are grateful for your superior service.”
The following retirees were honored (listed with dates of service):
1. Captain Stephen Salvas (December 12, 1994 – December 21, 2019)
2. Lieutenant Jeffrey Wood (September 30, 1994 – December 7, 2019)
3. Lieutenant Jon Norris (April 3, 1995 – July 31, 2020)
4. Captain Daniel Gimler (January 2, 1990 – July 31, 2020)
5. Sergeant Gregory Stringer (January 25, 1994 – September 18, 2020)
6. Ms. Donna Tawney (March 14, 2005 – September 25, 2020)
7. Sergeant Thomas Bailey (March 14, 1997 – September 25, 2020)
8. Master Sergeant Tony Verdiglione (May 13, 1991 – October 9, 2020)
9. Master Corporal Don Kabala (January 30, 1998 – October 23, 2020)
10. Police Officer First Class John Harley (October 6, 1997 – October 31, 2020)
11. Lieutenant Colonel David Saunders (January 2, 1990 – October 31, 2020)
The following awards were presented:
Bronze Medal of Valor: Police Officer First Class Brandon Morrison
On April 26, 2020, the Sheriff’s Office received a call for a subject with a rifle attempting to gain entrance into residences in La Plata. PFC Morrison arrived on the scene with fellow officers. The officers developed a tactical plan to advance through the woodline against the armed subject. As the officers formed a line and began advancing, they were notified the subject had now moved toward a residence and had begun firing his rifle into the residence, which was occupied. The officers displayed bravery and courage as they continued to advance despite hearing the gunfire around them. PFC Morrison, while moving toward the threat, observed a singular male firing a rifle into the residence. Knowing that the residence was occupied and understanding the deadly encounter he was facing, PFC Morrison immediately engaged the subject with his patrol rifle and ended the threat. The bravery and skill involved in this encounter certainly saved innocent lives while risking his own. For his heroic actions that day, PFC Brandon Morrison is awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor.
Bronze Medal of Valor: Corporal Gregory Champagne and Officer David Roys of the La Plata Police Department
On April 22, 2020, while officers were at a gas station in La Plata for an unrelated call, Cpl. Greg Champaign noticed a male dispensing gasoline fuel over his head and shoulders from the fuel pump. Upon seeing this, Cpl. Champaign and Officer David Roys ran over to the subject, who was now armed with a lighter and attempting to ignite himself on fire immediately in front of the fuel pump. The officers engaged in a struggle with the subject and were able to pull him away from the fuel pump and get the lighter out of his hands. The actions taken by the officers that day undoubtedly saved the life of a troubled citizen, all the while risking their own personal safety. Due to their heroic actions, Cpl. Champaign and Officer Roys are awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor.
Bronze Medal of Valor: Sergeant Paul Morgan, Corporal David Benthin, and Police Officer First Class Christopher Morris
On March 23, 2020, officers were dispatched to an apartment in Waldorf for a report of a suicidal subject. While en route, officers were told that the subject had fired a round inside the residence from a shotgun. After setting up a safety perimeter and beginning negotiations, the subject agreed to surrender but only to Sgt. Morgan. Knowing the danger involved in the situation occurring inside an occupied apartment building, Sgt. Morgan, Cpl. Benthin and PFC Morris developed a tactical plan to try to de-escalate the situation and end the standoff. The officers entered the building and as they reached the subject, a struggle ensued as he tried to fight the officers. During the struggle, Cpl. Benthin deployed a Taser which allowed the officers to safely apprehend the man. Due to the bravery and outstanding teamwork from the officers, they were able to prevent the man from harming himself or others and subsequently took him into custody so that he could be mentally evaluated at a medical facility. The three officers displayed coordinated teamwork and trusted each other with their personal safety. Their brave efforts exhibited on such a dangerous call have earned Sgt. Morgan, Cpl. Benthin and PFC Morris the Bronze Medal of Valor.
Bronze Medal of Valor: Police Officer First Class Morgan Fields
On August 24, 2020, PFC Morgan Fields and fellow officers were attempting to serve a court ordered emergency petition on a subject. Upon contact, the subject had armed himself with a sharpened object. The subject stood on an elevated position and challenged the officers. PFC Fields and several other officers began to devise a plan to de-escalate the situation, when suddenly the subject began advancing toward them. PFC Fields stood his ground to prevent the subject from moving forward, and the subject assaulted him several times in the head. Despite his injuries, PFC Fields was able to subdue the subject without further incident. His tactics and professionalism ended a volatile situation and they were able to get the individual the mental health care he needed. PFC Fields risked his personal safety to bring a troubled subject under control. For his actions on the scene, PFC Morgan Fields is awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor.
The following individuals received Meritorious Service Awards:
- PFC Kevin Makle, for his efforts in pulling an injured citizen from a burning vehicle while on his way home from work.
- PFC Jason Wilson, for his actions in confronting an armed subject in mental distress and de-escalating a dangerous situation.
- Sgt. John Hastings, M/Cpl. Richard Boggs, Officer Wyatt Adams, Sgt. William Jackson, Cpl. Patrick McPherson, and PFC Christopher Morris, for their brave actions when advancing on an armed gunman who was firing into a residence.
- Police Communications Officer David Windsor, for his leadership and calm demeanor while directing officers during the pursuit of a homicide suspect from a neighboring jurisdiction.
- Detective Cheyann Harris, for her investigation and arrest of a physician who was overprescribing dangerous medications, leading to loss of life.
- Officer Thomas Rickard, for his exemplary police work and resourcefulness in locating and apprehending an armed homicide suspect.
- PFC Bryan Keys and PFC Darin Behm, for their dedicated efforts in apprehending a dangerous felon who had just committed a commercial burglary.
The following individuals received Lifesaving Awards:
- PFC Bryan Keys, for resuscitating and saving the life of an individual in medical distress.
- Cpl. Brad Saunders and Cpl. John Foster, for performing CPR and using an AED on a citizen suffering a medical emergency, saving her life.
- PFC Corey Caywood, PFC Robert Ondrish, and PFC Brian Rash, for subduing a suicidal subject and providing lifesaving care.
- Cpl. Clay Collins, who performed CPR on an individual, who had no pulse, until EMS was able to take over. His actions saved the life of the person in distress.
The following individuals received Sheriff’s Awards:
- D/Sgt. Kristen Clark, for her dedication and efforts in establishing the Comfort K9 Program.
- Mrs. Audrey Langley, Sgt. Elizabeth Clark, Mrs. Joyce Schmidt, and Mrs. Vicki Murphy, for their efforts in making nearly 1500 face coverings by hand to ensure all employees would be able to comply with the Governor’s Order on face coverings at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Mrs. Jennifer Todd, for her tireless efforts and commitment to the Automated Enforcement Unit.
- Lt. Erica Budd, for her dedication to the development of the National Integrated Ballistic Intelligence Network program (NIBIN), which has been extremely helpful in developing leads and closing cases involving firearms.
The following individuals received Certificates of Commendation:
- PFC Darin Behm, Officer Bryan Keys, and Officer Sterlin Douglas, for their exemplary police work on the scene of a stabbing.
- Correctional Officer Haley Holt, for her actions in assisting a suicidal inmate.
- M/Cpl. David Baden and Correctional Officer Dylan Heishman, for their off-duty efforts in providing aid to an injured citizen and ensuring safety on the scene of an accident.
- Officer Derrick Knight, Officer William Christian, Officer Richard Swann, PFC Samuel Hooper, Cpl. Sheilagh Cook, and Sgt. Robert Gottschall, for their outstanding efforts in an extensive surveillance operation which assisted in apprehending a homicide suspect.
- PFC Thomas Thayer and Officer Brandon Weinmann, for the emergency aid and lifesaving measures they provided to an arrestee who was, unbeknownst to them, under the influence of drugs.
- CFC Jacob Estes, Cpl. Thomas Reece, CFC Andrew Hunt, Sgt. Christopher Rumsey, and CFC Trey Brown, for their teamwork in subduing a combative, high-risk individual and safely transporting him from the hospital.
- Sgt. Devin Arends, for his actions in coordinating efforts to get a dangerous subject safely into custody.
The following individual received a Certificate of Appreciation:
- Mr. Bill Young, for his positive attitude and outstanding work ethic in his role in Fleet Management.