OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Neighborhood Watch Association gathered this month at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center for its annual “Officer of the Year” recognition dinner.
Nearly 150 guests attended the event, including Mayor Rick Meehan, Council members Mary Knight, Margaret Pillas, Brent Ashley and Doug Cymek as well as several Ocean City police employees, residents and members of the eight Neighborhood Watch Associations in Ocean City, the Boardwalk Group, Bayshore Drive, Caine Keys II, Caine Woods, Edgewater Avenue, Little Salisbury, Montego Bay and Sundowner Park.
Ocean City Police Detective 1st Class Jeffery Johns was selected the honorable recipient of the Ocean City Neighborhood Watch Association’s 2011 “Officer of the Year” award. Also nominated for the 2011 “Officer of the Year” award were Ocean City Police Officer Justin Hoban, PFC Daniel Jacobs, PFC Chris Snyder, PFC Mike Richardson and Corporal Rick Wawrzeniak.
Johns is originally from Pennsylvania and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He worked as a seasonal officer for two years before being hired full-time in 2004. Detective Johns worked in the patrol division before being assigned to the Vice and Narcotics unit.
This was a special night of recognition as Johns was not only named the 2011 Officer of the Year, earlier in the evening Police Chief Bernadette DiPino presented Johns with the highest police department recognition, “The Medal of Honor.”
Johns received this honor as a result of being attacked and seriously injured this past summer when he was working in an undercover capacity.
“I am a very lucky guy, it is such an honor to have even been nominated, and I thank my fellow officers who are like my family,” said Johns. “This is a great community to be a policeman in. Every resident and especially the Neighborhood Watch members are an incredible resource, and it really is a partnership. I wouldn’t be standing here right now if it wasn’t for them.”
In addition to being named “Officer of the Year,” Johns and 18 other departmental members received a “Unit Citation.” Johns also received the Bronze Star. Both of these honors stemmed from a burglary investigation that helped recover 11 flat-screen televisions and numerous other home electronic components.
Long-time Neighborhood Watch members William and Anna Neimiller were recognized for their service with the Montego Bay Neighborhood Watch group for over 15 years, during which William Neimiller served as the Area Coordinator for the group.
During the awards banquet 17 members of the Ocean City Police were recognized for their recent promotions as follows including Captain Gregory Guiton; Lieutenants Scott Harner, Elton Harmon and Todd Wood; Sergeants Gregory DeGiovanni, Regina Custer, Dennis Eade, James Grady and Glenn McIntryre; Corporals Freddie Howard, Charles “Josh” Kelley, Frank Soscia and Joseph Lotito; and Police Officer First Class Joseph Centofranchi, Gregory Eastman, Kyle Murray and David Whitmer.