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Eight honorees from various Calvert County law enforcement agencies accepted praise and recognition for their dedication to their professions and the community at an awards banquet Monday evening.

The Calvert-Prince Frederick and Solomons Optimist clubs teamed up to continue a tradition of cultivating a healthy admiration and esteem for law enforcement officials at its annual Respect for Law Awards Banquet at Mama Lucia’s Restaurant in Dunkirk.

A theme that ran through the evening was a simple thank you, starting with an invocation by the Rev. Ken Phelps Jr., rector of All Saints Episcopal Church and chaplain of the Calvert Optimist Club, who expressed his hope that the banquet build community, trust, respect and peace among its attendees.

“… Accept our thanks for those we honor tonight, for those who keep us safe, who protect us, who enforce our laws, who provide leadership in the community,” he said.

Throughout the course of the evening, representatives from the Calvert County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Calvert County Detention Center, the Calvert County Animal Control Unit, the Calvert County Control Center, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, the Maryland State Police and the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office presented awards to members of their offices, reflected on their accomplishments and offered gratitude for the honorees’ services. The presenter from the Office of the State Fire Marshal and awardee Sr. Deputy Fire Marshal Caryn McMahon were unable to attend.

Guest speaker Mark S. Chandlee, a judge in the Calvert County Circuit Court, said law enforcement has helped to accomplish a 55 percent reduction in violent crime in the county since 2006, along with a 65 and 55 percent decrease in aggravated assaults and motor vehicle thefts, respectively.

“I mention those numbers just to give everyone the idea of how often police officers and law enforcement personnel have to put themselves in danger,” Chandlee said. “Every time they pull over someone on a traffic stop, they could potentially be shot, they can be attacked, they could be in a fight, they could be harmed.”

The fact that these people risk their lives in this way is what allows Calvert to be “a good and safe community,” Chandlee said.

The Calvert County State’s Attorney’s Office recognized Deputy State’s Attorney Frances Longwell, who, after having deferred the recognition in past years, preferring for it to go to a younger prosecutor, State’s Attorney Laura Martin said, finally accepted it this year before her upcoming January 2015 retirement.

“Trust me, it will be very hard to fill your little, tiny shoes,” Martin said.

The Calvert County Detention Center’s “Rookie of the Year,” Corrections Officer Vincent Bowles, has been described by his supervisors as “focused” and “motivated” after having established himself in the facility’s contraband control and emergency response teams, said presenter Major T.D. Reece, administrator of the center.

“When others are running away, he is running to,” Reece said.

Supervisor of the Calvert County Animal Control Unit Craig Dichter lauded Animal Control Officer Christie Montgomery for her thoroughness, follow-through and investigation skills, as well as her involvement in the seizure of a dangerous dog being hidden by a family and for helping to ensure positive court results in an animal hoarding case, in which 63 dogs were found in poor living conditions.

Commending Officer 1st Class Justin Ball for his “strong work ethic” and for being “well-rounded,” Sgt. Catherine Peck of the Maryland Natural Resources Office said although the honoree could not be at the banquet, she thinks he will be there next year winning another award.

“He’s really gonna progress in this job,” she said.

Megan Denton, a public safety dispatcher with the Calvert County Control Center, which operates 911 services, received tribute from Stacy Clas, another dispatcher, for her passion and motivation.

“She becomes her own little detective when it comes to helping law enforcement out,” Clas said.

The honoree from the Maryland State Police Prince Frederick barrack, Tfc. Christopher Esnes, was recognized for the third time in a row, barrack commander Lt. Sean Morris said. In 2014, he has made more than 1,000 traffic stops and arrested 22 people for driving while intoxicated and put 130 people in jail.

In addition to removing drunk drivers from the road, making drug arrests and giving citations and warnings, the sheriff’s office awardee, Dfc. Christopher Fox, also does community policing that includes boardwalk checks and talking to kids in North Beach and Chesapeake Beach.

“He’s made a difference in both the towns,” presenter Sheriff Mike Evans (R) said. “He likes working there, and we need deputies who take that very seriously.”

afrazier@somdnews.com