OCEAN CITY — The resort’s Neighborhood Watch Associations last week honored several Ocean City Police Department officers, employees and private citizens, including Pfc. Aaron Morgan, who was named Officer of the Year for 2015.
Ocean City’s eight Neighborhood Watch Associations last Friday held their annual OCPD Officer of the Year banquet at the Stowaway Grand Hotel. Roughly 150 guests gathered to recognize the OCPD personnel who had retired in the last year, earned promotions or received special commendations along with some special honors for private citizens.
Morgan began his career as a seasonal officer in 2004 and was hired as a full-time officer in 2006. He is a member of the Traffic Safety Unit and has earned numerous awards including the Worcester County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council Award, Knights of Columbus Officer of the Year, American Legion Officer of the Year and several others. Morgan was also just one of six police officers in Maryland to receive the ACE Award for DUI enforcement after arresting more than 100 impaired drivers in a calendar year.
Other OCPD officers nominated for the award this year were Pfc. Nathan Kutz, Pfc. Daniel McBride, Pfc. Edward Newcomb and Pfc. Michael Valerio.
Several officers and a private citizen were also recognized by the OCPD Commendation Board for going above and beyond the call of duty in 2015. For example, Mitchell Keegan, 15, of Ocean City, was recognized with a certificate of appreciation for quickly alerting nearby officers of a fire during which lives could have been lost and property destroyed without his quick thinking.
Valerio, Sgt. Dennis Eade, Dfc. James Rodriguez and Lt. Mark Pacini were each honored with the Excellent Performance Commendation. Returning seasonal officer John Romeo earned the Meritorious Service Award, while Pfc. Joseph Zurla and Ofc. James Bird each 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.
For the first time, volunteers of the OCPD Auxiliary Unit were also recognized at the annual banquet. In 2015, nine Auxiliary Officers contributed a total of 1,911 hours of service to the citizens of Ocean City. Colleen Douglas was named 2015 Auxiliary Officer of the Year. Douglas joined the Auxiliary Unit in 2013 and volunteered over 186 hours in 2015.
OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro also recognized Bob Hammond and Brad Wells for their continued support and contributions to the annual OCPD-Santa House Holiday Toy Drive. Bay Pines Farm in Bishopville was also thanked for its many years of service in support of the OCPD Mounted Unit.