BANGOR, Maine — Some of Maine’s top detectives and troopers — along with a 14-year-old Aroostook County boy — were recognized Thursday for bravery and going the extra mile during the Maine State Police annual awards ceremony.
By far the youngest honoree this year was Brandon Wright of Blaine, who received the Colonel’s Award for providing state police information that led to the arrest of a local woman who had broken into his home and tried to burglarize it on Feb. 2.
Wright was home alone around 10:30 a.m. on that day when he saw a strange car in the driveway and then found that a woman had entered the house, state police said at the time.
The teen remained hidden as the woman traveled throughout the home, opening doors and rummaging through drawers, police said.
Wright snapped a photo of the suspect’s vehicle and was able to obtain a license plate number for the car she was driving before calling his parents, who returned home and arrived as the woman was exiting the front door. The parents called state police.
Troopers were able to identify the suspect and arrested her on charges of burglary, theft of drugs and possession of Oxycontin.
Detective Christopher Crawford of Cornville was named Trooper of the Year by Col. Robert Williams, chief of the Maine State Police. Crawford is assigned to the Major Crimes Unit in Augusta.
During the ceremony, Williams said Crawford is a seasoned investigator who has played a leading role in several high-profile investigations in recent years.
Among them was the homicide investigation last August of a Fairfield woman found buried in woods near her home. Her husband is now awaiting trial for murder. Another was a more than $500,000 embezzlement case from the Anson town hall and a theft ring targeting Wal-Mart stores in which $250,000 in cash was seized from the suspect’s home.
Crawford was a patrol officer for the Madison Police Department for eight years before joining the Maine State Police in 2009.
Retired Detective-Sergeant Dale Ames, who served from 1964-1984, was named Legendary Trooper. For most of his career with state police, Ames investigated murders as a member of the department’s old “homicide squad,” which responded to almost every homicide in the state.
Others recognized were Lt. Scott Ireland, bravery, for saving the life of a teenager threatening to jump off an Augusta bridge; Trooper Gavin Hagar, bravery, for using his cruiser to block a tractor-trailer going the wrong way on the Maine Turnpike; and Sgt. Michael Zabarsky, meritorious service, for rescuing a woman inside a burning house in Hiram.
In addition, Sgt. Tom Pappas and Troopers Martin Royal and Brian Hink received special awards of commendation for their role in intercepting and arresting several drug dealers in Oxford County who were importing heroin and fentanyl from Massachusetts, and retired Trooper Brenda Coolen was presented a Colonel’s Award for helping to uncover a methamphetamine lab inside a Stetson home.