Elk­ton po­lice de­tec­tive re­ceives ‘Top Cop’ award

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON

ca­hamil­ton@ce­cil­whig.com

— An­drew Tuer got his first taste of po­lice work back in the late 1990s, although he was merely a 17-year-old civil­ian when he self­lessly thrust him­self into that in­ci­dent at the ACME in the Big Elk Mall.

“I was in the ACME buy­ing some gum and I heard a woman scream­ing. When I looked up, I saw a man run­ning away with her pock­et­book, so I chased him,” re­called Tuer, now 33. “He ran into the woods and dove into

OCEAN CITY

the creek, and I went in af­ter him. I dredged through the mud, and he was able to get out be­fore me. I don’t know what time of year it was ex­actly; all I re­mem­ber was it was cold.”

Tuer did not get that col­lar, as it turned out. Elk­ton Po­lice De­part­ment of­fi­cers cap­tured the purse-snatcher in those woods a short time later.

The event, how­ever, “re­ally ce­mented the idea” of Tuer pur­su­ing a law en­force­ment ca­reer, some­thing he had been con­sid­er­ing since he was a boy grow­ing up around a grand­fa­ther, fa­ther, brother and cousin who served as po­lice of­fi­cers, he said.

It also served as fore­shad­ow­ing, see­ing how Tuer took his oath as an Elk­ton Po­lice De­part­ment of­fi­cer in 2005.

On Tues­day, Tuer re­ceived the “Top Cop” award dur­ing the Mary­land Mu­nic­i­pal League con­ven­tion in Ocean City, af­ter the Mary­land Po­lice Ex­ec­u­tive As­so­ci­a­tion se­lected him for

that honor from a field of 24 nom­i­nated of­fi­cers with mu­nic­i­pal agen­cies through­out the state.

Gov. Larry Hogan pre­sented Tuer with the “Top Cop” plaque and an of­fi­cial Gov­er­nor’s Ci­ta­tion dur­ing a PEA break­fast meet­ing at the Ocean City Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

Tuer’s recog­ni­tion was wit­nessed by ap­prox­i­mately 60 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Elk­ton Mayor Robert Alt, mem­bers of the Elk­ton Board of Com­mis­sion­ers and EPD Chief Matthew Don­nelly, who had nom­i­nated Tuer for the “Top Cop” award by sub­mit­ting a let­ter to the PEA in Fe­bru­ary.

Don­nelly’s nom­i­na­tion let­ter lauded Tuer for his vol­un­teerism and men­tor­ship, not­ing, for ex­am­ple, his faith­ful work with the Elk­ton Boys & Girls Club, his in­volve­ment in the plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion of the an­nual Na­tional Night Out event in Au­gust and his par­tic­i­pa­tion in other com­mu­nity-re­lated projects.

It also praised Tuer for his han­dling of a high-pro­file dou­ble-mur­der case in which two Hollingsworth Manor teens, ages 16 and 19, dis­ap­peared on back-to­back days in Au­gust 2014.

With the teens still miss­ing, lead in­ves­ti­ga­tor Tuer de­vel­oped a sus­pect and ar­rested him, which led to a Ce­cil County grand jury dou­ble-mur­der in­dict­ment in March 2015. Then in Au­gust 2015 — with the teens still miss­ing — the de­fen­dant pleaded guilty to two counts of first-de­gree mur­der and re­ceived a 30-year prison term.

As part of his plea bar­gain, the sen­tenced con­vict had to tell Tuer and other au­thor­i­ties where he had hid­den the bod­ies of the teens in or­der to pro­vide some man­ner of clo­sure for their fam­i­lies.

Some four hours af­ter dis­clo­sure, with Tuer promi­nently on the scene, searchers re­cov­ered the re­mains of the younger teen in the shal­low wa­ters of the Lit­tle Elk Creek, be­neath an In­ter­state 95 over­pass, a short dis­tance from Blue Ball Road, north of Elk­ton.

(Pros­e­cu­tors and Tuer also learned that the re­mains of the older teen wound up in the Ce­cil County Land­fill, but of­fi­cials were un­able to re­cover them.)

“De­tec­tive Tuer’s over­all body of work was im­pres­sive, but this (dou­ble mur­der) cer­tainly was his sig­na­ture case. His work re­ally stood out. I don’t think there was a day that went by where he didn’t do some­thing on that case,” Don­nelly out­lined, adding, “He was able to bring some level of clo­sure to the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims and to the com­mu­nity.”

Don­nelly, who de­scribed Tuer as a “well-rounded of­fi­cer,” said Tuer’s recog­ni­tion is “well de­served” and then qual­i­fied that all of his EPD of­fi­cers and de­tec­tives work hard and well, but Tuer hap­pened to “set him­self apart” in the past year or so.

Tuer de­flected the at­ten­tion from him­self on Wed­nes­day dur­ing a Ce­cil Whig in­ter­view about the Top Cop award that he re­ceived.

“You know of­fi­cers in all those agen­cies (through­out the state) did good jobs, and some of them even did some­thing heroic, and the same is true for the of­fi­cers right here in our de­part­ment in Elk­ton. That’s what makes this such an honor and so hum­bling,” Tuer ex­plained.

Mak­ing the recog­ni­tion bit­ter­sweet, Tuer noted that his dou­ble-mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion was the ma­jor case that Don­nelly had cited in his nom­i­na­tion let­ter.

“This is one of the proud­est mo­ments of my ca­reer, but it’s sad that it comes off the tragedy of two teenage vic­tims and their fam­i­lies. I was able to bring some pos­i­tive res­o­lu­tion to the fam­i­lies. That makes it a bit more palat­able,” Tuer said.

Tuer learned that he had been se­lected for the Top Cop honor back in April, he said, adding that, at that time, “The whole award was a sur­prise.”

Nev­er­the­less, even though he had a cou­ple of months to grow ac­cus­tom to the fact that he had been named Top Cop, Tuer still was caught off guard on Tues­day.

“I knew I was go­ing to get the award when I came down for the con­ven­tion. What was a sur­prise was that Gov. Hogan would be the one pre­sent­ing the award to me. Plus, he pre­sented me with the Gov­er­nor’s Ci­ta­tion,” Tuer said. “It was def­i­nitely sur­real.”

Don­nelly agreed, com­ment­ing, “To have Gov. Hogan mak­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion, that re­ally topped it off.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF EPD

Det. Sgt. An­drew Tuer of the Elk­ton Po­lice De­part­ment (left) stands with Gov. Larry Hogan and EPD Chief Matthew Don­nelly, dur­ing an Ocean City cer­e­mony in which Hogan pre­sented Tuer with the “Top Cop” Award.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

EPD De­tec­tive An­drew Tuer (left) stands be­side As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Karl Fock­ler (at podium) and EPD Capt. Joseph Zurolo in Au­gust 2015, dur­ing press con­fer­ence af­ter a dou­ble­mur­der con­vict in one of Tuer’s high-pro­file cases re­ceived a 30-year prison term and re­vealed where he had hid­den the bod­ies.

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