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OCEAN CITY, MD – On Saturday, January 28, 2023, the Ocean City Police Department hosted its annual Officer of the Year Ceremony at the Princess Royale. Nearly 150 guests gathered to recognize OCPD personnel and volunteers for their accomplishments in 2022 and named Corporal Michael Kirkland as the Officer of the Year.

Cpl Michael Kirkland was chosen as the Officer of the Year by five community members. Also nominated were PFC Edward Newcomb, PFC Mark Cutter, PFC Kevin Herbert, and Officer Benjamin Panitch. We would like to thank Larry Yates, Tonja Sas, Charles “Newt” Weaver, Danny Robinson, and Lee Gerachis for meeting with the nominees and selecting the Officer of the Year.

Cpl. Kirkland has been a member of OCPD since April 2012. Cpl. Kirkland was assigned to the Narcotics Unit in 2016, & then to the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement Team (CET) in 2018. Corporal Kirkland was promoted on August 1, 2022, and reassigned to the patrol division. During Cpl. Kirkland’s tenure in Narcotics and CET, his primary duties included the undercover purchase of CDS, covert surveillance, tactical response, technical investigative techniques, and the management of complex CDS investigations.

Cpl. Kirkland made countless undercover buys and handled numerous felony CDS cases. Cpl. Kirkland exposed himself to danger repeatedly to accomplish the mission.

Volunteers of the OCPD Auxiliary Unit were also recognized for their contribution of 1,338 volunteer hours in 2022. Since the Unit’s inception in 1999, Auxiliary Officers have volunteered a total of over 65,000 hours which translates to a cost saving of over $2 million to the taxpayers of Ocean City.

This year, the Auxiliary Officer of the Year was awarded to Tonja Sas. Tonja has been an Auxiliary Officer since the program began and has donated over 5,000 hours to the department and community. Tonja has “retired” from the Auxiliary Officer Unit after 23 dedicated years of service.

As part of Saturday’s ceremony, many officers were awarded departmental commendations for exemplary service. The following officers were recognized:

  • Silver Star: Cpl. Michael Karsnitz.
  • Meritorious Service: Cpl. Michael Kirkland, and PFC Carl Perry.
  • Special Commendation: PFC Nathan Thompson, Ofc. Jessica Wieber (x2), PFC Christian Rodden, Ofc. William Mossop, Ofc. Anthony Helias, Ofc. Benjamin Panitch, Sgt. Kyle Murray, Ofc. Justin Koser, and Ofc. Devin Bartrom.
  • Excellent Performance: PFC David Whitmer, Cpl. Christopher Snyder, Ofc. Hailie Brumley, Natural Resource Police Ofc. Charles Tyler, PFC Patrick McElfish, PFC Christian Rodden, Cpl. Nathan Kutz, and PFC Mark Cutter.

Employees were also recognized for their promotions at Saturday’s event. The following officers were promoted in 2022:

Captain James “Art” Grady, Captain Shawn Jones, Lieutenant Todd Speigle, Lieutenant Charles “Josh” Kelley, Lieutenant Allen Hawk, Sergeant Christopher Wrench, Sergeant James Rodriguez, Sergeant Kyle Murray, Sergeant Nicholas Forsyth, Corporal Nathan Kutz, Corporal Sean McHugh, Corporal Michael Kirkland, Corporal Justin Hoban, Corporal Neshawn Jubilee, Corporal Jacob Fetterolf, PFC Patrick McElfish, PFC Noah Friedkin, PFC Nathan Thompson, PFC Megan McHugh, PFC Nicholas Fleming, PFC Sierra Stevens, and Police Records Management Supervisor Catherine Potter.

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