Neighborhood Watch Groups Recognize Police Officers

Neighborhood Watch Groups Recognize Police Officers
Ocean City Police Ross Buzzuro is pictured with Officer of the Year honoree Pfc. Nathan Kutz. Submitted Photo

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Pfc. Nathan Kutz was named Officer of the Year for 2018 last weekend by the Neighborhood Watch Associations.

Kutz was named Neighborhood Watch Association Officer of the Year at a special ceremony at the Grand Hotel last Friday. Nearly 200 guests attended the awards banquet with Kutz honored along with dozens of other OCPD officers and volunteers. Other finalists for the 2018 Officer of the Year award were Cpl. Chip Green, Cpl. Jeff Heiser, Pfc. Corey Gemerek, Pfc. Michael Karsnitz and Pfc. Edward Newcomb.

Kutz was chosen from among the finalists by coordinators from Ocean City’s seven Neighborhood Watch associations.

Kutz joined the OCPD as a seasonal officer in 2009 and was hired full-time in 2012, when he joined the Traffic Safety Unit and became a certified crash reconstructionist. He is a breath-test operator and is trained in crash investigation. Since joining the OCPD, Kutz has made 350 arrests for impaired driving and is deeply committed to keeping Ocean City streets safe for residents and visitors. The humble Kutz credited his fellow officers and thanked his family upon receiving the award last Friday.

The officer of the year award was just part of the larger award ceremony for the OCPD and several other officers were honored with various departmental commendations.

For example, Karsnitz was honored with a Meritorious Service Commendation. Several others earned Special Commendations including Lt. Dennis Eade, Sgt. Joe Bushnell, Sgt. Charles Kelley, Pfc. Ryan Flanagan, Pfc. Jacob Fetterolf and Officer Connor Finch.

Earning Excellent Performance Commendations were Lt. Greg DiGiovanni, Sgt. Freddie Howard, Cpl. Jeff Johns, Cpl. Michael Kelly, Cpl. Kyle Murray, Pfc. Likeke Arlington, Pfc. Joseph Centrofranchi, Flanagan, Pfc. Kevin Flower, Pfc. Amy Gutowski, Pfc. Daniel Jacobs, Kutz, Pfc. Sean McHugh, Newcomb, Pfc. Carl Perry, Pfc. David Whitmer, Pfc. Joseph Zurla, and officers Harry Miller, Riley Scott and Christopher Palmer. A certificate of outstanding service went to Daniel Burt, while a certificate of appreciation went to Lou Lombardo.

Of course, the OCPD would not be as successful without its countless volunteers, who were also recognized last Friday for contributing 2,483 hours in 2018. Since the inception of the unit in 1999, volunteers have contributed over 62,000 hours, which translates to a cost savings of $2.2 million to the taxpayers of Ocean City. Kathy Grimes received an additional award for a remarkable 1,216 volunteer hours in 2018. Auxiliary Officer of the Year honors went to Charlie Judd, Dorothy Morse and Tonja Sas, who have each been active volunteers for the entire 20 years since the program was created.

Other officers were honored for their retirements in 2018 including Captain Kevin Kirstein, Captain Greg Guiton, Lt. Scott Kirkpatrick and Sgt. Mark Paddack, who served a collective 125 years with the OCPD. There were several promotions in 2018 including Captain Ray Austin, Captain Elton Harmon, Lt. Greg DeGiovanni, Lt. Dennis Eade, Lt. Frank Wrench, Sgt. Allen Hawk, Sgt. Freddie Howard, Sgt. Jim Runkles, Sgt. Rick Wawrzeniak, Cpl. Jeff Heiser, Cpl. Jeff Johns, Cpl. Kyle Murray, Cpl. Chris Wrench, Pfc. Herbert Jenkins, Pfc. Jessica Johnson, Custody Officer Mary Chaney and Custody Officer Lucinda Kuehn.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.