Resort Police Corporal Wins Legion Award

OCEAN CITY — A longtime Ocean City Police corporal last week was honored as the 2011 Officer of the Year in a special ceremony by the resort’s American Legion Post 166.

The American Legion Post 166 in Ocean City last Wednesday recognized OCPD Corporal Richard Wawrzeniak as the 2011 Officer of the Year at an annual awards banquet recognizing emergency service providers and first-responders. Wawrzeniak, originally from Bowie, joined the Ocean City Police Department in 1999 after spending two summers as a seasonal officer in the resort.

Wawrzeniak is currently an active member of the department’s Bike Unit and also the Quick Response Team (QRT). He is currently assigned to the patrol division’s evening watch. Chief Bernadette DiPino praised the American Legion’s selection for officer of the year.

“I am extremely proud of Corporal Wawrzeniak,” she said. “He demonstrates the high qualities and standards expected of an Ocean City Police officer. He is a hero.”

Last year, Wawrzeniak was recognized as a hero and was awarded a Silver Star for his decisive action in December 2010 when he was forced to shoot a Berlin man who was attacking his estranged wife with a knife in the presence of her young children. Shortly after 11 a.m. on Dec. 10, 2010, OCPD officers responded to a 911 call from a residence on 82nd Street involving a domestic dispute.

When officers, including Wawrzeniak, arrived on the scene, they discovered a suspect, later identified as Marvin Mitchell, then 27, of Berlin, armed with a knife and stabbing his estranged wife. After repeated orders to drop the knife were not heeded by Mitchell, Wawrzeniak was forced to draw his service revolver and shoot Mitchell to end the attack on his estranged wife. Mitchell survived the shooting and was later sentenced to 12 years for attempted first-degree murder.

In addition to being honored last week, Wawrzeniak was recognized with the same honor earlier this year by the Knights of Columbus and was also a finalist r for the Neighborhood Watch Officer of the Year Award.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award,” said Wawrzeniak last week. “It really has been a special year for me. I’m proud to be part of such a professional organization. Our officers strive to give their best each and every day. I would like to thank Chief DiPino, all my fellow officers and my family for their support, and, of course, the American Legion.”