Though occasionally accused of being too aggressive and militaristic of law enforcement initiatives for such a small city, the Aberdeen Police Department’s surveillance camera system and Rapid Response Team (RRT) have undoubtedly helped proactively combat crime and clean up city streets.
At a ceremony in Glen Burnie on Tuesday, those efforts by Aberdeen Police were officially recognized when the law enforcement agency was the recipient a pair of crime prevention awards handed out by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The Governor’s Crime Prevention Award for Outstanding Proactive Crime Prevention Programs in Maryland was awarded to the Aberdeen Police Department for both its Camera Surveillance Project and its Rapid Response Team Safe Street Initiative.
In attendance at the ceremony were Det./Sgt. Kirk Bane, Cpl. Dan Gosnell, Ofc. Dave Swain, Ofc. Todd Fanning, Ofc. Jeanette Giganti, Chief Rudy, Capt. Henry Trabert, Councilman Mike Hiob and City Manager Doug Miller. Ofc. Tim Helf, who is also a member of the team, couldn’t be there because of his duties in Iraq.
Mayor Mike Bennett was apparently invited by Rudy, but did not attend the event.
According to Bane, “there were about 25 tables at the event and when the Governor arrived, our table was the only one he stopped at and he put one hand on my shoulder and the other on the chief’s and said ‘Is this the Aberdeen table?'”
“He then said it was good to see us and went to his table. When he left we again were the only table he stopped at to say goodbye,” Bane added.
The group from Aberdeen alaso posed for pictures with Patrick Bradley, the Executive Director of the Maryland Police & Correctional Training Commission, left, and to his right, Gary Maynard, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
The awards are handed out each year through the Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute, along with the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions and the Maryland Crime Prevention Association.
There were 56 award recipients this year, each of whom have made outstanding contributions to the furtherance of crime prevention programming. Other law enforcement agencies received awards for such endeavors as creating “Airpark Security Council” for businesses in Montgomery County, producing an educational DVD aimed at high school seniors vacationing in Ocean City and developing a comprehensive public safety video geared to college campuses.
Although it was honored Tuesday for being among the best and most proactive law enforcement agencies in the state, the Aberdeen Police Department lost perhaps its biggest booster of forward-thinking police tactics when former mayor Fred Simmons lost his re-election bid to Bennett in November.
Can APD maintain its aggressive pursuit of excellence without Simmons? With Bennett?
Will APD be better off without the micromanagement of a full-time, ride-along mayor or will it miss his hands-on support?
Or will Bennett, a retired Maryland State Police lieutenant, use his more than three decades of law enforcement experience to guide APD to greater successes and accelerate the process of cleaning up crime in the city?