Trooper and Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year Announced Police Communications Operators Honored
March 18, 2016
-First Female Trooper Wins Trooper of the Year
-Senior NCO Wins Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year
(PIKESVILLE, MD) – Maryland State Police Superintendent Colonel William Pallozzi today announced the statewide Trooper of the Year and Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year awards that went to the first female trooper to win the honor and one of the longest-tenured NCOs to ever win.
The 2015 Trooper of the Year is Trooper First Class Casey Ruth, of the Leonardtown Barrack.  The 2015 Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year is Sergeant Robert Petras, of the Westminster Barrack.  The 2015 Police Communications Operator of the Year is Police Communications Operator Sherjuan Cunningham of the Rockville Barrack.  The 2015 Police Communications Supervisor of the Year is Police Communications Supervisor Regana Fontaine of the Salisbury Barrack.
“The positive impact on public safety made by the Maryland State Police only happens because of the dedication to duty our troopers and civilian employees exhibit each day,” Colonel Pallozzi said.  “The level of commitment, hard work, and leadership of each of these employees during the past year has been exemplary and has contributed significantly to our ability to serve and protect the citizens of our state.  I congratulate each of them and am grateful for their willingness to do their best for the people of Maryland.”
TFC Casey Ruth is the first female to win the statewide Trooper of the Year award.  She was a member of the 139th Trooper Candidate Class and graduated in early 2013.  She was assigned to the Leonardtown Barrack and has worked there ever since.
In 2015, TFC Ruth led the Field Operations Bureau in criminal arrests with 72 and served an additional 21 arrest warrants.  She ranked at or near the top of almost every other statistical category at a very competitive barrack. She made 1,435 traffic stops, issued 859 citations, 853 warnings, 477 safety equipment repair orders, and arrested 18 impaired drivers. TFC Ruth was named the Leonardtown Barrack Trooper of the Month for five times in 2015, more than any other trooper at the barrack.
During one incident last year, she was able to successfully and peacefully talk a suicidal woman out of her residence.  TFC Ruth’s skill helped avoid a barricade situation and prevented the woman from harming herself.
She showed initiative by constantly volunteering to attend specialized training and was selected to be a barrack recruiter.  She built positive public relations by interacting with children and adults at a number of community events, including raising nearly $500 for Special Olympics Maryland and participating in Shop with a Cop in St. Mary’s County to help children in need have a happy holiday.
According to her supervisor, Cpl. Pilkerton, TFC Ruth is an extremely motivated trooper, evidenced by her enforcement efforts and her involvement in the small things that receive little recognition.  Her dedication to duty leaves a positive impact on the children and families of St. Mary’s County each day.
Sgt. Rob Petras was a member of the 94th Trooper Candidate Class and served his early years in Southern Maryland.  He was Trooper of the Year for the Southern Region in 1992.  He was nominated for the Baltimore Sun Police Officer of the Year in 1993.  He was a K-9 handler and served as an instructor in the Academy.  He was a supervisor at the College Park, Frederick, and now Westminster barracks.
According to First Sergeant Knight, his supervisor, Sgt. Petras continually seeks to improve his skills through constant training.  Much of this training is done on his own time and expense, in order to improve his skills and abilities as a State Police sergeant.
Sgt. Petras was assigned a work group of ‘young and inexperienced troopers.’  As a result of his instruction, supervision, and leadership, his troopers were named Group of the Month at the Westminster Barrack eight out of twelve months.
Sgt. Petras also supervises the barrack programs that require the most work.  Because of the amount of time he was devoting to assisting his troopers, he was asked if he wanted some duties reassigned, but he declined.
His concern for his fellow troopers, civilian employees, and people in need is evident.  With no desire for recognition, Sgt. Petras is always supporting someone who needs help, encouragement, or just a friend.
First Sergeant Knight’s nomination report mentions Sgt. Petras’ integrity and commitment to honesty, regardless of what he does or who may or may not see it.  He recognizes that without integrity, we cannot uphold the public trust.  He gives an honest, full-day of work, each day, with great attention to detail.
What was most impressive to his supervisor and commander was that Sgt. Petras performed at an incredibly high level, even after 29 years on the job.   As First Sergeant Knight said in his report, “Sgt. Petras refuses to accept performance from his subordinates that is just enough to get by and follows rules and regulations to the letter.  It is very rare….to find an NCO as senior as Sergeant Petras who still approaches his daily duties with the enthusiasm of a newly promoted corporal.”
The “Police Communications Operator of the Year” and “Police Communications Supervisor of the Year” awards are presented to those communication professionals who represent the finest attributes of the police profession.  These include integrity, determination, selflessness, courage, enthusiasm and dedication to duty.
During 2015, PCO Sherjuan N. Cunningham performed her duties as a Police Communications Operator in an exemplary manner.  Her outstanding performance impressed both the command staff of the Rockville Barrack as well as other troopers working in the Washington Metro Troop.
Police Communications Operator Cunningham is one of the first Maryland State Police communication officers to achieve national telecommunications certification.  Her exemplary performance in managing a tractor and trailer crash which resulted in a chemical spill that shut down Interstate 495 for four hours and her dedication in locating a missing person as a result of a Silver Alert contributed to her being named the 2015 “Police Communications Operator of the Year.”
During 2015, Ms. Regana R. Fontaine performed her duties as a Police Communications Supervisor in an exemplary manner.  Police Communications Supervisor Fontaine, known for her skill and proficiency, is a certified instructor in several key statewide systems and a member of the Communications Training Committee.
In addition to ensuring the certification of all troopers assigned to the Salisbury Barrack, Police Communications Supervisor Fontaine supports the certification efforts for troopers assigned to the Eastern Troop.  Evidence of her professionalism was the perfect score awarded to the Salisbury Barrack during its biennial National Crime Information Center audit.