2011 Annual Award Recipients

Community Service

Lieutenant James H. Wickless, Jr.
Employment Section
Years of Service: 40

Lieutenant Jim Wickless has served and protected the citizens of Baltimore County in a police uniform for 40 years. For more than 25 of those years, he has also worn many other hats. He has donated his time to many groups, but his most remarkable achievement has been his commitment to the athletes of the Special Olympics. Lieutenant Wickless has consistently been the link between the Department and the Special Olympics. When the Special Olympics Summer Games were held at Towson University, he was our coordinator. He participated in a “Plane Pull” and organized our presence at the State’s “Polar Bear Plunge” helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars. In between those events, he headed up the “Spring Heat” bike race every year for a decade putting almost a quarter of a million dollars in the hands of the Special Olympics of Maryland. He even staged media interviews as he did a “Roof Ride.” He spent a week on a platform overlooking I-695 at the old Luskins building on Cromwell Bridge Road to raise money to promote Special Olympics. He has used every talent he had to give selflessly to others. As an established musician, Lieutenant Wickless has played events for charities both solo and with his band. Perhaps the longest running communityrelated achievement is that he has served for the last 20 years in a leadership role representing BCoPD in the Maryland Law Enforcement Torch Run. This event in particular not only raises a huge amount of money, but it brings police closer to the community by having officers run with a torch through their neighborhoods. Lieutenant Wickless has a way of bringing groups of people together, determining what needs to be done, delegating tasks to skilled workers, while always keeping his eye on the big picture. One of his proudest achievements was the completion of a Police Memorial Wall in the lobby of the Public Safety Building. It reminds all who enter the building the true meaning of public service. For his four decades of reaching out and touching the hearts of so many, Lieutenant Jim Wickless receives the Community Service Award.

 

Crime Prevention

Officer Terri L. Schmidt
Precinct 11/Essex
Years of Service: 15

Officer Terri Schmidt is very familiar with the violent offenders in her precinct. She knows that most violent crimes are committed by a small population. The key to reducing crime is putting bad people in jail or making sure that they find their way to a productive life. As part of the Governor’s CSAFE (Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement) program she has the single goal of eliminating gun violence from our streets. Officer Schmidt has been very successful at what she does. She knows every violent offender by sight; knows their family; where they live; where they are employed or attend school; the types of crimes they have committed; and where to find them. She shares her knowledge with other officers in the precinct by updating a book which includes photos and other relevant information about the offenders. Her HEAT (Heightened Enforcement, Accountability and Treatment) team deals with the most dangerous criminals in the State. She is a valuable resource to the Robbery Unit, Violent Crimes Unit, and Narcotics Section. On a daily basis, she accompanies Parole and Probation agents and Juvenile Services agents to each offender’s home, work or school to make sure that they are compliant with the conditions set by a judge at sentencing. Impressed with the function and structure of her team, the State is considering using her system as a template for other jurisdictions. After taking nearly 30 violent offenders off the streets last year, there is no doubt that her outstanding work has diminished the violence in surrounding neighborhoods. For her stellar achievement, Officer Terri L. Schmidt receives the Crime Prevention Award.

 

Distinguished Contribution

Detective Corporal Robert A. Conroy
CID/Hazardous Devices Team
Years of Service: 18

DetectiveCorporal Robert Conroy knows his business. As the Hazardous Devices Team (HDT) commander, he is a standout among his co-workers and his peers. After many years of experience doing precise and dangerous tasks, he realized that there was equipment and training available that could make us all safer. The Department needed things, but times were tough financially all over the country. Detective Corporal Conroy did not let that stop his progress. He educated himself as to how to write grants. He identified fiscally responsible requests that would benefit the BCoPD. He wrote Homeland Security grants to secure the funding for the items on his list. The result was the acquisition of response vehicles, three new robots, a total containment vessel, digital X-ray kits, and other items directly related to the safe and efficient performance of the HDT. The items were valued in excess of one million dollars. He even fashioned a backpack type carrier to carry robot controller parts. He looked at the County as a whole and saw that Baltimore County Fire Department Hazardous Materials responders needed some additional training. He developed response criteria that benefited both agencies and delivered that in sessions. He extended our reach by organizing training with businesses that use explosives. In case of an emergency, the company and the HDT would be better prepared to handle the incident. As a further enhancement of the professional image of the Department, and to aid in prosecutions, Detective Corporal Conroy organized two training sessions for the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office. He is a chapter director for the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators, and a member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. For his innovation and cost-saving measures, Detective Corporal Robert A. Conroy receives the Distinguished Contribution to the Profession Award.

 

Exceptional Performance

Officer Rachel M. Wood
Precinct 2/Woodlawn
Years of Service: 4

Officer Rachel Wood is described by her co-workers as smart, motivated, and highly productive. Her dedication, hard work and commitment to the community has substantially contributed to the agency’s crime reduction success. In the last year, Officer Wood led her squad by issuing 492 pieces of traffic enforcement, including 20 traffic related arrests. She is the shift leader in criminal enforcement by clearing 103 cases, and making 80 physical arrests, 31 of which were for felony crimes. An example of Officer Wood’s impressive work ethic involves a case where a woman called 911 and hung up. Officer Wood was dispatched to the scene, and noticed that the woman who answered the door had fresh injuries on her upper body. The woman was not cooperative, but Officer Wood was persistent. She learned that the woman’s boyfriend threatened her with a handgun, ripped the phone out of her hand when she called 911, violently assaulted her, and then left in a vehicle. Officer Wood had surveillance set up near the home while she checked the boyfriend’s criminal record. He had previous felony arrests, so he was barred from possessing a firearm. Officer Wood’s efforts paid off, because when the boyfriend returned home he was placed under arrest, instead of potentially harming the victim. Officer Wood has worked all kinds of cases. She has retrieved stolen property from robbers; arrested subjects who were wanted from other states; seized drugs; stopped a man from harming himself while he recklessly operated an ATV; and kept two men from killing each other with kitchen knives. She has gone from a new recruit to one of the finest officers in her precinct. For her diligence and fortitude, Officer Rachel M. Wood receives the Exceptional Performance Award.

 

Exceptional Performance: “Operation Pharmgate” Investigative Team:


Sergeant Gerald D’Angelo
CID/Financial and Cyber Crimes Team
Years of Service: 22

Sergeant Allen S. Meyer
CID/Financial and Cyber Crimes Team
Years of Service: 24

Detective William J. Long, Jr.
CID/Financial and Cyber Crimes Team
Years of Service: 9

Detective Ryan Cooper
Intelligence Unit
Years of Service: 15

U.S. Postal Inspector Courtney L. Voynik
U.S. Postal Service
Years of Service: 8

Detective Paul Langis
Baltimore Police Department
Years of Service: 18

In the summer of 2009, the Cyber and Financial Crimes Unit became aware of a daunting problem that was plaguing retailers in the Baltimore Metropolitan area costing merchants millions of dollars in stolen inventory. Organized retail crime was growing, and a coordinated effort was needed to combat it. Sergeant Gerald D’Angelo, Sergeant Allen Meyer and Detective William Long met to discuss potential investigative strategies, and to devise a plan of action to address organized retail crime.

Sergeant D’Angelo started a comprehensive review of shoplifting cases, then he and Detective Long began debriefing individuals arrested for shoplifting and theft. Through contacts with area retailers and other officers, they learned that Detective Ryan Cooper of the Intelligence Unit and BPD Detective Paul Langis also had developed sources, which detailed an elaborate system of thefts by numerous individuals and the subsequent sale of goods to pawn shops and secondhand shops. They found that a certain organization was involved in the purchase and sale of mass quantities of stolen over-thecounter medications, health and beauty aid products, gift cards, DVDs, and other merchandise. Over 40 criminals were interviewed and said that they had sold stolen goods to pawn shops earning twenty-five cents on the dollar.

Detectives Cooper and Langis, through countless hours of surveillance, identified a wholesaler who purchased products from pawn shops and stored huge volumes of merchandise in a warehouse in Baltimore. It was there that they were repackaged and later sold on the Internet or shipped to various wholesalers throughout the country. Some were even sold back to the corporations from which they were originally stolen.

Informants were eventually able to introduce Detective Long in an undercover capacity to make controlled sales from police to pawn shops. The entire team used surveillance, search warrants, analysis of phone records including thousands of voice mail and text messages, and financial analysis of the targets involved.

In early 2010, the investigation grew into a Federal wiretap case authorizing the interception of wire communications. U.S. Postal Inspector Special Agent Courtney L. Voynik joined the investigation as an affiant on the intercept order. Four telephone lines were monitored for 30 days.

In March 2010, the Baltimore County Police Department, in conjunction with the Baltimore City Police Department, Maryland State Police, the United States Postal Inspection Service, Safeway Corporation and Target, Inc. concluded a nine-month investigation into the theft of large quantities of retail merchandise. Dubbed “Operation Pharmgate,” 17 defendants were indicted in United States District Court for crimes ranging from money laundering to tax evasion. Thirty-two search and seizure warrants were served, resulting in the recovery of several million dollars in merchandise and the seizure of over $1.3 million dollars in assets. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in preparation and review of all documents and case management estimated that this theft scheme, if left operational, was worth from 25 to 50 million dollars.

The investigation is the first of its kind in Baltimore County and the first wiretap involving a property crime. It was far-reaching and labor intensive, requiring over 150 police officers throughout the course of the investigation. For this, Sergeant Gerald D’Angelo, Sergeant Allen S. Meyer, Detective William J. Long, Jr., Detective Ryan Cooper, U.S. Postal Inspector Courtney L. Voynik, and Baltimore Police Detective Paul Langis receive the Exceptional Performance Award.

 

Valor

Officer Mark C. Fisher Precinct 4/Pikesville Years of Service: 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 In July 2010, Precinct 4/Pikesville Investigative Services Team detectives, Community Action Team officers and United States Secret Service agents were working a detail to identify members of a counterfeit ring. This group had passed tens of thousands of dollars of counterfeit one hundred dollar bills. Detective Thomas Thayer learned from guests and employees at the Pikesville Ramada Inn that people in room 240 were the ones doing the printing. Detective Thayer actually recovered copies of printed one hundred dollar bills from a trash can at the Ramada Inn.

After watching room 240, they were able to place Eric Stokes and Darryl Bacon in the room. Detectives and officers were stationed at every possible entry and exit to the room. Officer Mark Fisher and Detective Michael Westfall were in an undercover van on the parking lot closest to the room. During the surveillance operation, Detective Westfall needed to exit the van. He took off his magazine pouch and handcuffs and left them in the van with his ballistic vest. At this point, a vehicle pulled up. Three subjects got out and headed toward the room. They went in, but then came back carrying large trash bags and computer equipment.

Detective Westfall, who was out of the van, took cover behind a civilian van. Officer Fisher was still in the van. As suspect Stokes approached the van, Detective Westfall identified himself and ordered Stokes to the ground. Stokes began firing at Detective Westfall. Detective Westfall reacted by returning fire. He and Stokes were mere feet apart. Stokes backed up and continued to fire. Detective Westfall’s initial shots did not hit Stokes. Detective Westfall slowed his breathing and concentrated on his next shots. Stokes was struck and fatally wounded. Miraculously, Detective Westfall was not injured. During the exchange, Officer Fisher had exited the surveillance van and fired on Stokes who was shooting at Detective Westfall. Officer Fisher’s actions were heroic. A fellow officer was being fired on. He recognized the danger and stepped out of the van into the field of fire. Detective Westfall showed courage under fire. He did so without cover or additional ammunition. Both Detective Michael J. Westfall and Officer Mark C. Fisher are highly deserving of the Valor Award.