Service club salutes local law enforcement

Optimists clubs in Calvert hold their 2017 Respect for Law Banquet
From left to right, Officer First Class Ethan Leonard of the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP), Animal Control Officer Timothy Lewis of the Calvert County Animal Control Unit, Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Deputy First Class Brian Pounsberry, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Gerst, Correctional Officer First Class David Cook of the Calvert County Detention Center and Gordon B. Johnson, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, who was the guest speaker of the Optimists' Respect for Law banquet and awards ceremony.


Huntingtown, MD - Continuing a tradition that dates back to the late 1960s, the Optimist Clubs of Calvert-Prince Frederick and Solomons held their annual Respect for Law Awards Banquet. This year’s event was held at Tom Wisner Hall at Kings Landing Park in Huntingtown. The Calvert-Prince Frederick Optimist Respect for Law Chairman Philip Mohler noted that the club’s tradition of honoring local officers origination during “the [J. Edgar] Hoover days of the FBI.” Optimist International’s Respect for Law program after a past president of the international organization had a conversation with the bureau’s founding director. The evening’s guest speaker was Gordon B. Johnson, a special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office.

Johnson, a Frederick County native, is a 20-year veteran of the FBI. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and served as an officer in the Army. Johnson spoke about growing up in a rural community and developing a rapport with local police at an early age. He urged the young officers attending the banquet to get involved with youth activities within the community such as sports. “I was privileged to get to know the Frederick Police Department,” he said.

Noting that the FBI has interacted with the area’s local and state law enforcement agencies on numerous occasions, Johnson declared, “I am thankful for the partnership the FBI has with each of you. You handle these challenges in a proactive way. I am honored to shake your hand and congratulate you.”

In praising the Calvert community, Johnson stated that two of his office’s special agents are Northern High School [Owings] graduates.

The 2017 Calvert-Prince Frederick and Solomons Optimist Respect for Law honorees were:

Correctional Officer First Class David Cook of the Calvert County Detention Center. The facility’s director, Major T.D. Reece stated that “many hostile situations at the detention center” have been quieted thanks to Cook’s presence. The correctional officer is one of the first persons visitors see when they enter the detention center.

Animal Control Officer Timothy Lewis of the Calvert County Animal Control Unit. Lewis was described by Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Craig Kontra as “a model employee. Kontra noted Lewis was named Employee of the Month by county government employees after he (Lewis) developed a trap to safely capture a runaway pot-bellied pig.

Officer First Class Ethan Leonard of the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP). Lieutenant Catherine Medellin, Maryland NRP Southern Region Area 4 commander, stated that Leonard joined the force in 2013 and has become the agency’s point person for working with the Coast Guard. He is also head of the NRP Dive Team. In addition to those often time-consuming activities, Leonard “is an all-around fine officer,” checked over vessels of over 800 fishermen and vessels and plays a key role in bringing scofflaw watermen to justice.

Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Gerst. Deputy State’s Attorney Kathryn Marsh stated that after starting with the office handling District Court cases, Gerst has become involved in the more protracted Circuit Court proceedings. In 2016, Gerst was instrumental in helping local prosecutors obtain the conviction of an environmental activist/protestor who had accused a local deputy of assaulting her. “He handled every single motion calmly and got a conviction” for making a false statement to an officer, Marsh stated.

Calvert County Sheriff’s Office Deputy First Class Brian Pounsberry. Sheriff Mike Evans stated that Pounsberry joined the agency in 2014 after a stint in the Coast Guard. The deputy is part of the Beach Patrol in North Beach and Chesapeake Beach and in 2016 was selected as Beach Deputy of the Year. He is also a member of the Special Operations Team.

Recipients who were unable to attend included Deputy Fire Marshal Senior John A. Nelson. Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Duane Svites told the gathering that Nelson, who has trained four new investigators, was the Maryland Fire Marshal’s Office’s Deputy Fire Marshal of the Year in 2010. On May 8, the well-traveled deputy fire marshal opted to attend the opening game of his son’s T-ball season.

Trooper First Class Shawn Matthews of Maryland State Police (MSP) Prince Frederick Barrack was unable to attend due to the agency’s current manpower shortage. Marsh, who spoke on Matthews’ behalf, noted that the trooper has excellent investigative skills that have aided local prosecutors.

Another recipient, Calvert Emergency Communications Public Safety Dispatcher Lyndel Richardson was also unable to attend the awards ceremony.

Contact Marty Madden at

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