Officer Caprio Community Memorials Continue A Month After Her Death

by Rus VanWestervelt
Exclusive for Baltimore News And Events
June 21, 2018

A month ago, Laura Joy Rode and Erinn Patrick, third-grade teachers at Seven Oaks Elementary and residents of Parkville, sat in their classrooms with their students until 9 p.m. as police wrapped up their initial investigation of the death of one of their own, Officer Amy Caprio.

In those dark hours, however, their students were thinking less about the fear of a lockdown and more about what they could do for the police officers in their precinct who were mourning the loss of their partner.

“The very next day,” wrote Rode in a Facebook post, “my third grade students asked if they could have some time to write thank you cards to the police officers who kept them safe. . . .Not one complaint of being tired or worried. . . just wanting to thank the brave men and women who serve.”

The desire to give back, to support the Parkville and surrounding precincts, has only strengthened since May 21 when Officer Caprio was killed in the line of duty.

Rob Williams, a resident of Rodgers Forge and Citizens on Patrol leader and volunteer for the last ten years, decided to create a memorial display in his front yard on Regester Avenue, honoring all ten Baltimore County officers who have died in the line of duty.

“I was deeply moved, said Williams. “I wanted to do something to remember her and her ultimate sacrifice.”

Williams contacted a company called Flagology that had the specific hero flag template he was looking for. He gathered the photos of the other officers and completed the display on June 10.

“The memorial will continually be in place,” said Williams. “Several neighbors have already commented to me about how moving the memorial is to them.”

Such memorials are on display in other neighborhood communities, including Carney and Loch Raven Village.

Other residents around the area have used their creativity to raise money for various funds.

Maria Greenwood has formed a group that makes police survival kits, which are delivered to police stations all over the state of Maryland. According to Lisa Westervelt, one of the members of the group, Greenwood has been awarded for her community-building efforts and recognizing officers for their hard work.

“When Parkville experienced its tragedy, Maria ran around getting donations needed for the kids and delivered a ton of them to the station in support of the officers who had lost their sister in blue,” said Westervelt.

According to Greenwood, they delivered 200 police survival kits after the death of Officer Caprio.

“Praying that it brings much joy to all the officers at Parkville Precinct!” wrote Greenwood in a Facebook post. “Your community loves and supports you!”

Kim Lyons, founder and owner of An Etch Above, created Memorial Cups in Officer Caprio’s honor. For each cup sold with the memorial design, Lyons is donating $10 to the FOP 4 Memorial Fund.

“As a graduate of Parkville High School, former resident in Parkville and Perry Hall, and business owner in Parkville, Maryland, I have felt a deep sadness over the recent loss of Officer Amy Caprio from the Parkville precinct,” wrote Lyons on her website. “After much discussion with local law enforcement and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, I have decided to offer these Memorial Cups in her honor.”

According to Lyon’s website, they have raised over $750 in Caprio’s memory.

Others from around the state have created fundraisers built around their hobbies and organizations. One such effort to raise money was done by the Chesapeake Jeep Club, among others, who hosted a ride to honor Caprio.

The ride, which took place May 26, was organized by Prince George’s County K9 Officer Mike Cicale.

In the description of the event, Cicale wrote, “Join us as [we] pay our respects to Officer Caprio, her friends, family, and members of the Baltimore County Police Department . . .[for] a memorial ride to honor her life and sacrifice.”

Although Ellicott City resident and Jeep owner, Sunny Yoo, could not participate in the event, he is mindful of the work that Cicale and others do to honor fallen heroes.

“[Cicale] sets up most rides to honor the fallen officers throughout Maryland,” said Yoo. “I think it’s nice to see Jeep clubs participating in these events. It just shows how much respect they have for people who serve and enforce the law.”

Yoo witnessed the tribute of K9 vehicles lined up along 695 and was touched by the what he saw. “It was very emotional to see people come together to honor her,” said Yoo. “I felt chills and had to turn my music off and have a moment of silence. ”

The tributes and memorials will continue throughout the summer. Both Towson and Cockeysville organizers of their respective Citizens On Patrol (COP) programs will be honoring Officer Caprio on August 7, which is National Night Out and recognizes those who serve their communities to keep them safer.

“We are honoring her at this year’s National Night Out for the Cockeysville precinct,” shared resident Tracey Daniels. “I think more people will come support the police at this event because of her.”

According to Pat France, Vice President of the Towson-Area Citizens on Patrol (TACOP), they will hold a moment of silence for Officer Caprio at their event on Washington Ave. at 6:20 p.m.

Even with school being out, Seven Oaks Elementary teacher Laura Joy Rode is still touched by the actions of her third-grade students.

“It has been truly inspiring to see the kids react with love, concern, and empathy,” said Rode, reflecting back on her children’s desire to act. “These young children wanted to take action, to do something, to show the police officers and first responders not only that they are needed and appreciated, but that they are sad for their loss. We all can learn from these big hearts!”

Remembering Tom Clancy

tomclancyDear Tom:

I received the news of your passing yesterday morning in a simple text message from a friend I had been dating when I first met you. It seemed appropriate enough to hear the news from Kelly. Just as I had not seen you since that era of my life ended, it has been that long since I have seen Kelly as well.

We chatted a bit more via text about our own lives, catching up with our present-day challenges, and we ended with a mutual appreciation of the fragility of life. We shared a touch of gray for your passing as much as a touch of gratitude for the moment at hand, and then we said our goodbyes.

I wanted to spend a few lines thanking you for several things. (It’s been quite a long time, and quite frankly, I cannot remember if I ever took the time to let you know what I am about to share.)

I first met you in 1988 when I was a part-time reporter for the Calvert Independent newspaper, which shut down in January 0f 2011 after a 70-year run. Your latest book, The Cardinal of the Kremlin, was being released, and my assignment was to interview you about its upcoming launch.

Even though I was a teacher at the school your children attended, I was still scared as hell when I called your house and left a message. As a fledgling writer, I was overwhelmed by getting the chance to not only meet you, but actually interview you and ask you questions about writing and the writing life.

You returned my call later that night and left a brief message on my machine, identifying yourself as “TC” and telling me that the ball was in my court to call you back. I did so immediately, and a few days later, I arrived at your house for the interview.

You gave me a tour of your house, including your study where you did your writing. I was so impressed with the Macintosh II that you owned, with a super-sized screen unlike any I had ever seen. We settled down in another room for the interview, but before I could ask a single question, you prefaced our discussion with this:

“I will offer you the same deal that I give to anybody who interviews me (and that has been a lot of people). Ask me a question I’ve never been asked, and I will offer you a beer.”

I looked at my reporter’s notebook filled with the standard list of questions about the upcoming launch. No beer-worthy queries leaped from my pad.

As I went through my questions, you offered wonderful side-stories that allowed me to let my guard down just enough to let you know that I was working on a novel myself. You smiled, asked me a set of your own questions about my writing, and we continued our talk that ended up having little to do with Kremlin‘s release.

I left about an hour after I had arrived, and although my questions were not unique enough to get that offer for a beer, you gave me something much greater: a belief in myself as a writer.

In the years that followed, we met several times at book signings, school events, and even an impromptu meeting at the construction site for your house, where Tom (another teacher) and I drove to the land with our binoculars for some spectacular birdwatching. We never expected you to pull up, but when you did, you chatted with us for a good hour, and you told me that I was a “writer in diapers” who had a full career ahead of me. My colleague and I headed home soon thereafter. You always loved a good conversation, and I always appreciated that.

The greatest experience I remember with you, though, was at school following a talk and booksigning. Most of the guests had left, and you sought me out to ask how my writing was going, and if I was at the stage where I would be looking for an agent.

I shared with you the struggles of finding time to write, and you listened patiently while I told you how busy my life was. When I was finished, you smiled (as you always did), and shared some words of advice.

You told me that writers write. Period. We show up for work like everybody else, and we don’t make excuses. You talked about Shakespeare and others who wrote — not to be poetic or pretty, but to make a living.

At the end of our conversation, you looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Rus. Just write the damned thing.”

And I did. A few months later, you gave me the name and phone number of your agent, and I made the call. Although I ultimately ended up going the self-publishing route, talking with you and Robert Gottleib made everything real, attainable, and worthwhile.

Tom, I am deeply saddened by your passing. You always respected me as a writer and took the time to talk about the craft. I am grateful for the opportunities you gave me, and I have done my best to pass along the inspiring, no-frills encouragement to just write the damned thing to my own “writers in diapers” that I now teach.

We never really know how our impromptu meetings and words can change lives, but yours changed mine as a writer, a teacher, and an individual. I thank you for that, and I will continue to keep your words of advice close to me as I continue with my own writing.

With gratitude and sadness,
Rus