OCEAN CITY, MD – : On Friday, January 29, 2016, the Neighborhood Watch Associations of Ocean City gathered together with Ocean City Police Department employees at the Stowaway Grand Hotel for their annual Officer of the Year Ceremony. Nearly 150 guests gathered to recognize OCPD personnel who had retired or been promoted in 2015, honor the valuable contributions of the OCPD Auxiliary Unit and several other civilian citizens, officers who received commendations and ultimately recognized the 2015 Officer of the Year.
Police Officer First Class Aaron Morgan was named the Ocean City Neighborhood Watch Association’s 2015 Officer of the Year by the eight Neighborhood Watch area coordinators. Also nominated were Pfc. Nathan Kutz, Pfc. Daniel McBride, Pfc. Edward Newcomb and Pfc. Michael Valerio.
Pfc. Morgan began his career as a seasonal officer in 2004 and was hired as a full-time police officer in 2006. He is a member of the Traffic Safety Unit and has earned numerous awards including Worcester County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council Award, Knights of Columbus Officer of the Year, American Legion Officer of the Year and many more. Pfc. Morgan was also one of six officers in the State of Maryland to receive the ACE Award for DUI enforcement for arresting more than 100 impaired drivers in a calendar year.
For the first time, volunteers of the OCPD Auxiliary Unit were also recognized at this annual banquet. In 2015, nine Auxiliary Officers contributed a total of 1,911 hours of service to the citizens of Ocean City. Colleen Douglas, of Ocean City, was ultimately named 2015 Auxiliary Officer of the Year for her dedication to public safety in Ocean City. Douglas joined the Auxiliary Unit in 2013 and volunteered over 186 hours in 2015.
Several officers and a citizen were also recognized by the OCPD Commendation Board for going above and beyond their call of duty during 2015. Keegan Mitchell, 15, of Ocean City, was recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation. Pfc. Michael Valerio, Sgt. Dennis Eade, Dfc. James Rodriguez and Lt. Mark Pacini were recognized for earning the Excellent Performance commendation. Returning Seasonal Officer John Romeo earned the Meritorious Service award and Pfc. Joseph Zurla and Ofc. James Bird both earned the Silver Star.
Fourteen employees were also recognized for promotions at Friday’s event. Benjamin Berry, Michael Dzurnak, Corey Gemerek, Clifford Goggins, Neshawn Jubilee, Michael Kirkland, Nathan Kutz, Daniel McBride, Philip Paterson, Jennifer Smithhart and Michael Valerio were each recognized for their promotion to Police Officer First Class in 2015. Albert Custer and Charles Green were also recognized for their promotion to Corporal. In addition, Robert Luckett was recognized for completing the training required for promotion to Police Custody Officer.
Chief Ross Buzzuro also took a moment to thank several members of the community that have served the department for many years. Bay Pines Farm in Bishopville, MD was thanked for their many years of service and support to the OCPD Mounted Unit. In addition, Mr. Robert Hammond and Mr. Brad Wells were thanked for their continued support and contributions to the annual OCPD/Santa House Holiday Toy Drive.