HERSHEY – State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan presented the department’s 2012 awards for the Medal of Honor, Trooper of the Year, Police Communications Operator of the Year, Liquor Enforcement Officer of the Year and the Employee of the Year at the State Police Academy in Hershey.
Noonan presented the department’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, to Trooper First Class Timothy A. Strohmeyer, Troop G, Hollidaysburg, for his heroic efforts during the Dec. 21 shooting rampage in Geeseytown, Blair County, which left four people dead.
“This award is presented to members or enforcement officers distinguished by a gallant and intrepid action, which was above and beyond the call of duty,” said Noonan.
On the morning of Dec. 21, 2012, troopers were dispatched to reports of a male subject who was shooting people in the area of Juniata Valley Road, Frankstown Township.
Troopers Timothy Strohmeyer and David Nazaruk and Corporal Kevin Campbell were first to arrive in the area. While en route to the scene, Strohmeyer and Nazaruk passed the suspect, Jeffrey Lee Michael of Hollidaysburg, traveling in the opposite direction on Juniata Valley Road. As the suspect passed the troopers, he fired shots into both cruisers. Nazaruk sustained injuries to his eyes and forehead from shrapnel and glass fragments.
Strohmeyer turned his patrol car around and pursued the actor with Nazurak close behind. At the same time, Campbell was heading south on Juniata Valley Road in their direction. Campbell was the next trooper to encounter the suspect. Upon approaching Campbell’s position, Michael accelerated his truck and intentionally rammed Campbell’s patrol car head-on. The impact disabled both vehicles and jammed the patrol vehicle’s driver’s side door, making it difficult for Campbell to exit.
Within seconds Strohmeyer arrived at the scene and rammed his cruiser into the rear of the suspect’s truck, diverting his attention. After the impact, Michael immediately charged to the driver door of Strohmeyer’s vehicle, firing as he approached. Strohmeyer, who was wearing his issued body armor, was struck in the lower chest area and left wrist.
“Trooper Strohmeyer, even after being struck in the chest and hand, drew his service weapon and returned fire until he had stopped the actions of the suspect,” Noonan said.
Strohmeyer also received the Purple Heart and the Trooper of the Year award.
In addition, Nazaruk received the Purple Heart and Commendation Medal, along with Campbell, who also received a Commendation Medal for this incident.
“The exemplary actions of Trooper Strohmeyer, along with Corporal Campbell and Trooper Nazaruk, exhibited great personal courage while putting their own lives on the line in an attempt to stop a killer,” said Noonan. “The troopers, while injured, engaged the suspect and terminated any additional threat to the lives of other persons in the community.”
Thomas E. Coulter received the Police Communications Officer of the Year Award during the ceremony. Coulter has been with the department since 1980.He is currently assigned to the midnight shift at the Kiski Valley station.
“PCO Coulter is a dedicated employee who routinely works without the benefit of a Shift Supervisor,” said Noonan. “He can be relied upon to make sound decisions that consistently aid in officer safety.”
Noonan added that Coulter’s dedication to public service does not end when his shift ends at the Kiski Valley station. Coulter has been a firefighter with the Apollo Hose Company No. 2 since 1972. He was honored as the Apollo Firefighter of the Year in 1995.
“This award was presented to PCO Coulter in recognition for his loyalty, reliability and devotion to the Pennsylvania State Police,” Noonan said. “He has distinguished himself as a leader and a positive role model for other Police Communications Operators to follow.”
Liquor Enforcement Officer Scott D. Berdine received the Liquor Enforcement Officer of the Year Award during the ceremony. Berdine has been with the department since December of 2008. He is currently assigned to the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, Williamsport District Office.
Noonan said, Berdine, working mostly on his own time, wrote the computer code for a software program that will streamline field work and reporting process for all liquor control enforcement officers.
“The software is so sophisticated that it was estimated to cost over $500,000 had the Bureau procured it externally,” said Noonan. “The software is currently being formatted for final implementation and distribution throughout the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement and will undoubtedly save countless man-hours once it is fully implemented.”
“His commitment to service exemplifies the image of the Pennsylvania State Police,” Noonan added. “The award was presented to him in sincere appreciation for a job well done.”
Mary Ann Cron received the Employee of the Year Award during the ceremony. She is currently troop administrative manager at Troop R, Dunmore barracks.
Noonan stated that her initiative and conscientiousness portrays the image of an exceptional employee, which she has continued throughout her 37 years of dedicated service to the Pennsylvania State Police.
“Ms. Cron is a fixture at the Dunmore barracks, after hours and on weekends, making sure that the troop and its employees, enlisted and civilian, are taken care of administratively and otherwise,” said Noonan. “She distinguished herself as a leader and a positive role model for other employees to follow — and consistently, gives herself for the benefit of others.”
“Ms. Cron is self-motivated, trustworthy and always willing to accept additional responsibilities,” Noonan added. “Her attention to detail is noteworthy, and she can always be relied upon to complete all tasks in a professional manner and in compliance with department rules and regulations.”
Noonan said she has been a pillar of support for Troop R’s Camp Cadet Program since its inception in 1987, currently holding the position of treasurer on the board of directors.
“Ms. Cron coordinates invitations, planning and the execution of the Troop’s State Police Memorial Day Ceremonies held every year,” Noonan said. “This ceremony is attended annually by approximately 200 current and retired members and their families. She is one of the main reasons that the Troop’s memorialization of its fallen members functions flawlessly.”
For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.state.pa.us.