Elkton police detective receives ‘Top Cop’ award
— 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
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.”
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.
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.