- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse presented Calvert County Sheriff’s Office deputies with two awards for their dedicated participation in the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in county schools during an Oct. 22 awards ceremony.
This year, for his many years of hard work and devotion to the community and youth, 1st Sgt. Keith Hicks was honored with the Community Eagle Award.
Each year, CAASA recognizes one community member who has gone above and beyond what’s expected of them to promote drug use prevention and a healthy lifestyle, said CAASA coordinator Candice D’Agostino.
The award is not always given to a law enforcement officer, D’Agostino said, but since Hicks was one of the first D.A.R.E. officers in the county, uses his own time to help students and serves as a role model for youth, he was given the award this year.
“[Kids] always go back to [Hicks] as someone who influenced them in a positive way, and our board thought presenting him with the award was appropriate for everything he’s done and continues to do,” D’Agostino said. “We just thought Keith has been doing it for so long in the community he deserved to be recognized for his years of service to the kids here in the community.”
Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans (R) said while the Maryland State Police taught D.A.R.E. classes in the county since the late 1980s, Hicks was the first sheriff’s deputy to become a D.A.R.E. officer.
During his years as a D.A.R.E. officer, which began in 1992, Hicks said he has taught a number of children and established a rapport with them at a young age. As a result of that, he said, Hicks is now co-workers with several students he taught and now teaches D.A.R.E. in classrooms of those he taught at a young age.
“It’s been rewarding,” Hicks said, adding that the most important thing about being a D.A.R.E. officer is establishing a rapport with the students.
In addition to being a D.A.R.E. officer, Evans said Hicks is also the football coach at Calvert High School, mentors “a lot of young people,” trains high school children in physical fitness and volunteers his announcer services to school dances and other charitable events, including Relay For Life. It was for these reasons Hicks was also chosen to be the Southern Maryland Criminal Justice Academy director in January.
Hicks said he is very appreciative of receiving the eagle award.
“It just solidifies the appreciation for all the hard work over the years. I don’t do it for that reason, but it’s greatly appreciated,” he said.
Sgt. Mike Bomgardner, last year’s eagle award recipient, accepted a $1,000 grant award from CAASA.
Bomgardner, the agency coordinator for the county’s D.A.R.E. program, said each year, CAASA gives him an opportunity to apply for a grant. The $1,000 grant he received Oct. 22 will be used to purchase a number of different items to give out to students, he said. He said the money is beneficial to the sheriff’s office because $1,000 of the department’s budget can now be used in different areas.
“Instead of taking money out of the budget to purchase those supplies, we can use the grant to do that,” he said.
Bomgardner said the money will be used to buy “tons” of learning materials for the kids, ranging from pencils to informational brochures to trading cards. The trading cards are given out to the children, Bomgardner said, which allows them to have an opportunity to maintain contact with a D.A.R.E. officer “if they need help with future problems.” He said most of the information given out focuses on curbing tobacco use.
CAASA also gave other D.A.R.E. officers, including Cpl. Phil Foote, Cpl. Michael Naecker, Dfc. Andrew Clas, Dfc. Andre Mitchell and Cpl. Robert Selkirk, a plaque for their continued dedication to teaching county students.
Evans said “it’s always nice” for the deputies to receive awards recognizing them for their efforts.
“You do your job because you love doing your job … but it’s so nice that some organization or citizen takes time to recognize you when you go above and beyond, and that’s exactly what 1st Sgt. Hicks and Sgt. Bomgardner have done,” Evans said. “They’ve gone above and beyond.”