OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Neighborhood Watch Association this week handed out its 2008 Ocean City Police “Officer of the Year” award, but the honoree’s picture will not appear in local newspapers or on television.
During its annual ceremony on Monday at the Ocean City Elks Lodge, the Ocean City Neighborhood Watch Association selected OCPD Detective/Corporal James Schwartz as the recipient of its 2008 Ocean City “Officer of the Year” award. Schwartz, who has been with the department full time since 1999, is currently assigned to the Vice/Narcotics Unit of the Criminal Investigation Division, and his selection as Officer of the Year is a first for an undercover detective.
Schwartz on Monday became the 13th recipient of the Neighborhood Watch Association’s annual Officer of the Year award. The association, made up of six groups with residents from Caine Woods, Caine Woods II, Montego Bay, Little Salisbury, Bayshore Drive and Edgewater Avenue. Last year’s award went to Corporal Brian Mongelli, while long-time OCPD Lieutenant Scott Kirkpatrick won the award in 2006 and Officer First-Class Freddie Howard was the 2005 recipient.
Schwartz was a seasonal officer with the OCPD in 1997 before a two-year stint with the Norfolk, Va. police department. He returned to the OCPD as a full-time officer in 1999. During his nine years with the vice/narcotics unit, Schwartz has authored nearly 50 drug search and seizure warrants, initiated and supervised over 50 long-term felony drug investigations, served as the primary undercover investigations and has been involved in hundreds of drug arrests.
In 2003 and 2008, Schwartz initiated pharmaceutical investigations, which resulted in the arrest of two local physicians. The two cases produced charges of several counts of prescribing prescription medication outside common medical practice. In 2005, Schwartz was involved with the seizure of one kilogram of powder cocaine with an estimated street value of $100,000.
During his tenure with the narcotics unit, Schwartz has been deemed an expert drugs/narcotics investigator. He is also a member of the OCPD Commendation Board and is a state of Maryland court certified expert witness regarding controlled dangerous substances. He has received over 17 intradepartmental recognitions for above average performance. In 2004, he was promoted to the rank of Detective First-Class, after finishing first among 11 police officers. He was promoted to the rank of corporal in 2006.
Chief Bernadette DiPino said she was thrilled with the association’s selection for 2008.
“I think it is outstanding to see our community recognize an undercover officer,” she said. “He is a fantastic investigator and an impressive detective. He has worked very hard to keep our city safe from drugs and I am thrilled to see him rewarded for his commitment to the Ocean City community.”