Annual Banquet Honors Completion of Service, Excellent Field Work, and Bravery
Charles County Sheriff Troy D. Berry honored 15 retirees and 42 award recipients at a banquet at the Waldorf Jaycees Community Center on Friday, October 27. Honorees were recognized for completion of service to the Agency, excellent field work, or acts of bravery. Retired Captain William Saunders served as the Master of Ceremonies. The Charles County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presented Colors; Ms. Haley Holt, a CCSO Cadet, sang the National Anthem; Dr. Wilson Morales, a CCSO Chaplain, delivered the invocation; and Dr. Steve Davis, a CCSO Chaplain, delivered the benediction. “Combined, our retirees provided 362 years of service to this Agency. Each of them will surely be missed, and we thank them for their hard work, dedication and loyalty,” said Sheriff Berry. “We are proud of our award recipients as well, for going above and beyond the call of duty, for saving lives, and for their superior service.”
The following retirees were honored (listed with dates of service):
- Jean Kenlon (March 2, 2009 – December 25, 2015)
- Christina Wagner (November 27, 1989 – November 30, 2016)
- Master Corporal Gary Holt (February 27, 1989 – February 2, 2017)
- Consuelo McPherson (February 3, 1997 – February 17, 2017)
- Major Christopher Becker (December 21, 1987 – April 30, 2017)
- Master Corporal Belinda Brown (March 5, 1991 – May 25, 2017)
- Captain Gary Summers (January 27, 1986 – July 16, 2017)
- Captain Morris Gant (December 18, 1989 – July 16, 2017)
- Master Sergeant Jody Pyburn (December 6, 1993 – July 16, 2017)
- Correctional Officer First Class Melissa Hug (January 17, 2000 – July 16, 2017)
- Police Officer First Class Jose Marti (April 24, 2006 – July 16, 2017)
- Captain Kevin Barrows (August 3, 1987 – July 31, 2017)
- Captain James S. Whitcraft (August 3, 1987 – July 31, 2017)
- Sergeant Harry Bowling (November 10, 1986 – September 29, 2017)
- Gloria Bowers (March 7, 1994 – September 29, 2017)
Our highest honors, the Medals of Valor, were presented to five officers.
Bronze Medal of Valor: PFC Andrew Coulby
On March 23, 2017, officers were dispatched to the 3300 block of Westdale Court in Waldorf for the report of a shooting. PFC Andrew Coulby, who was training a brand new officer, arrived first. He quickly evaluated the threat and established a perimeter, all while speaking with a severely injured victim. After learning there were children inside the townhouse that may be in immediate danger, PFC. Coulby notified arriving officers as well as well as police dispatchers that he was going to enter the residence to ensure their safety despite not knowing what was on the other side of the door.
PFC Coulby quickly moved through the house and up the stairs where he located a four-year-old girl with multiple gunshot wounds. PFC. Coulby assessed her condition and determined she was deceased. He continued searching the upstairs where he found a 17-year-old girl in the bathroom; she had been shot numerous times and was unconscious, but breathing. Officer Coulby radioed this information to dispatchers and stayed with the girl to comfort her and protect her while additional officers cleared the house and until emergency medical personnel arrived on scene. The teen was transported to a hospital where, sadly, she died of her injuries.
In the end, when the urgency was settled, officers learned the girls’ father shot their mother multiple times, then shot his two daughters before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. The girls’ mother survived.
PFC Coulby made a courageous and selfless decision. He acted quickly, all while giving directions to responding officers to maintain cover on the residence while he moved in.
From the immediate dangers presented, to the emotional impact of seeing the results of such violence, clearly this situation was very difficult to be a part of. While nothing can change what he saw, perhaps it might be of some comfort knowing he was able to stay with the teenaged victim and speak words of comfort to her before she passed away.
For his courage and his compassion, PFC Andrew Coulby was awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor.
Bronze Medal of Valor: Cpl. Gregory Champaign, Jr.
On June 19, 2017, at 6:50 p.m., a vehicle was reported off the roadway and engulfed in flames at St. Charles Parkway and St. Thomas Drive in Waldorf. Observing heavy smoke coming from the area, Corporal Greg Champaign, who was off duty at the time, responded to the accident. Upon his arrival, he ran to the vehicle and saw the driver, a 24-year-old female, still in the vehicle and unable to free herself. With assistance from an off-duty paramedic who was en route to work, Corporal Champaign was able to force the driver’s side door open. The victim was in severe pain with a possible broken leg, but Corporal Champaign was able to extract her from the vehicle and drag her to safety. According to witnesses, moments after the victim was removed from the vehicle, flames consumed the passenger compartment. He then stayed with the female while waiting for on-duty units and EMS to arrive. Upon their arrival, he quietly left the scene.
The vehicle was completely destroyed by the fire, and the driver would certainly have perished if not for the heroic actions of Corporal Champaign. It bears repeating that Corporal Champaign was off duty at the time of this incident, and he told no one of his actions. This incident came to the attention of the Awards Committee when a Committee member attended a ceremony at the Charles County Government building. At the ceremony, the Charles County Commissioners recognized Corporal Champaign’s bravery and heroism in saving this woman’s life. Our Committee elected to do the same.
For his courage and dedication to duty, exposing himself to an unusually high level of danger in which serious injury was a real possibility, the Bronze Medal of Valor was awarded to Corporal Gregory Champaign, Jr.
Bronze Medals of Valor: M/Cpl. Donald Kabala, PFC Eric Scuderi, and PFC Christopher Morris
In the early morning hours of January 29, 2017, while assisting the Maryland State Police with a DWI arrest in Waldorf, Master Corporal Don Kabala heard what sounded like a motor vehicle crash nearby. He responded northbound on Crain Highway to the area where he believed the sound of the crash came from, at which time he observed a motor vehicle in the median. The vehicle had struck a pole, and the engine compartment was engulfed in flames. Master Corporal Kabala immediately ran to the vehicle with his fire extinguisher in an unsuccessful attempt to quell the fire. He then opened the driver’s side door and observed a lone male occupant, later identified as the driver, lying in the passenger-side compartment of the vehicle. Upon the arrival of PFC Eric Scuderi and PFC Christopher Morris, Master Corporal Kabala utilized their fire extinguishers to combat the flames as Officers Scuderi and Morris entered the smoke-filled vehicle to extract the driver. As they attempted to remove the driver, it appeared that his legs were pinned under the dashboard and he was therefore unable to free himself.
The officers worked together to free the driver’s legs and remove him from the vehicle. Upon the arrival of EMS, the driver was flown to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Had it not been for the heroic efforts of Master Corporal Kabala, PFC Scuderi, and PFC Morris, the driver may have been significantly injured or worse. As a result of their bravery, teamwork, and resourcefulness, willingly putting themselves in harm’s way to save another, these officers were each awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor.
The following individuals received Meritorious Service Awards:
- Juan Morales, PFC Kevin Makle, PFC Christopher Gustafson, and POI Abijeet Singh, for their patience, tactical awareness, and teamwork in bringing an armed, emotionally disturbed person safely into custody.
- Cheyann Harris, for her tenacity and hard work in leading an investigation which resulted in the first conviction in Charles County for manslaughter in an opioid-related death.
- Jessica Williams, a citizen witness, for her bravery and activism in helping to close an armed bank robbery case.
- Jared Cooney and PFC Morgan Fields, for their courage and ingenuity when confronted with a fluid and deadly situation in which they disarmed a distraught, suicidal subject.
- PFC Stephen Miller, for his bravery and exceptional response to a robbery incident.
The following individuals received Lifesaving Awards:
- M/Cpl. John Freeman, for his successful efforts in saving an overdose victim’s life by means of CPR.
- Michael Clark, Cpl. Jonathan Rager, PFC Claude Clevenger, PFC William Halt, and POII Ryan McMullen, for their tenacity and teamwork in saving the life of a suicidal subject.
The following individuals received Sheriff’s Awards:
- Augustus Proctor, for his commitment to Special Olympians and his unwavering support of Special Olympics Maryland.
- Kevin Leahy, Lt. Charles Baker, Lt. Jason Stoddard, and Lt. Louis Schmidt, III, for creating and organizing the agency’s first ever Citizens Police Academy.
- PFC Jennifer McKenzie, for her passion, dedication, and initiative regarding getting legislation passed to help stop the trend of cell tower battery thefts.
- Jonathan Burroughs, for his initiative in creating a legislative proposal to combat predator towing. His proposal passed and was signed into law earlier this year.
- Wayne Magoon and Mr. Claude “Bud” Humbert, for their donation of personal time, catering equipment, and most importantly their culinary skills for the 2017 Employee Appreciation Day picnic held in May.
- Caroline Baker and Sgt. Patrick Tona, for their dedication in developing a Crisis Intervention training course for the agency.
- Stacy Kelly, Cpl. Michael Albrittain, and Mr. Jeffrey Merchant, for their dedication to ensuring that a work release program with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs worked well and for their efforts in helping work release inmates find meaningful employment.
The following individuals received Certificates of Commendation:
- Shawn Gregory, for his initiative in fostering a community spirit at the Charles County Detention Center by planning the first ever Family Tour Day.
- Mark Bourgeois, for the dedication and resourcefulness he displayed in handling an overdose case.
- The Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department, Station 3, for their professionalism and teamwork on the scene of a tragic accident.
- Christopher Cusmano, for his tremendous courage and resolve to keep others from being hurt or worse during a traffic stop that turned violent during which he found a loaded handgun in the suspect’s pocket.
- Brian Long, for capturing a fleeing inmate and keeping him from escaping custody.
- Station Clerk III Kristi Jackson, for her dedication to the agency and for her work on the first ever written Station Clerk Standard Operating Procedure.
The following individuals received Certificates of Appreciation:
- Joseph Summers, for volunteering his time, talent, and equipment to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
- The Charles County Crime Solvers Board of Directors, for their 36 years of service to the community and their support of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
Charles County Crime Solvers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest or indictment of a person responsible for a crime in Charles County. Anyone with information about an unsolved crime or the location of a fugitive may contact Charles County Crime Solvers by calling 1-866-411-TIPS, or submitting tips online at tipsubmit.com. All individuals who provide tips through Crime Solvers will remain anonymous. Learn more at the CCSO’s website.
The Charles County Sheriff’s Office is a full-service law enforcement agency comprised of more than 600 police, corrections and civilian personnel responsible for protecting more than 150,000 residents. The CCSO was accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in 2001 has been designated as a CALEA Gold Standard of Excellence agency since 2011. Established in 1658, the CCSO is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the United States. For more information, visit www.ccso.us.