By Keith Runk
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The Perry Paw Dog Park has been a staple of the Perry Hall community since it opened in 2014, but in recent weeks the sentimental value has grown.
A new plaque dedicated to the memory of fallen Baltimore County police officer Amy Caprio has been greeting people who enter the dog park since Oct. 5, when it officially unveiled in a dedication ceremony.
The plaque includes an engraved photograph of Caprio and recognizes not only the sacrifice she made in the line of duty in 2018 but also her love of dogs.
“Amy Caprio died serving the Perry Hall community,” said Councilman David Marks, who represents Baltimore County’s fifth district. “She was the county’s first female officer to die in the line of duty, and the 10th officer in Baltimore County history.”
The plaque, which guards the entrance of the dog park located in Honeygo Run Regional Park, stands for more than just the sacrifice Caprio made while defending her community.
“It demonstrates her love for her community, job, family, animals and sports,” said Police Sgt. Ernest Hannig, a liaison between the Baltimore County Police Department and the Caprio family. Hannig also played a large role in designing the plaque and organizing the event.
Caprio, a four-year veteran of the department, is remembered equally for her dedication to her service and her love for animals—a characteristic that played heavily into deciding the location of the plaque.
“Amy loved animals. She treated a lost animal as importantly as she’d treat a lost human,” Hannig said. “Having this plaque at a dog park really captures all of those special things about her.”
Caprio died in the line of duty on May 21, 2018 after being struck by a vehicle while investigating a call of suspicious activity in a Perry Hall neighborhood.
Planning for the plaque and dedication ceremony was a collaborative effort on behalf of the county police department, the Department of Recreation and Parks, and the Caprio family.
Discussions about the concept of the plaque’s design began in fall 2018. Hannig and the Caprio family created the design in cooperation with the Department of Recreation and Parks, said Bob Smith, the chief of recreation services.
“It was truly a joint effort,” Smith said. “There is no way we could ever honor a fallen officer enough and this was but a small token to show our appreciation to her and her family.”
Smith hailed the event as a huge success due in part to the effort put forth by the various county agencies.
Hannig, who worked close with the family throughout the process, felt a big pay-off after seeing the success.
“The most satisfying part to me was just to see them happy,” Hannig said. “Words cannot begin to describe what this meant to them.”
The plaque dedication is not the only way Caprio has been honored. Caprio was given several departmental awards and also had a scholarship fund launched in her honor at Towson University, Hannig said.
Chief of her awards is the Valor Award, which was given posthumously to Caprio in April 2019, according to Baltimore County police reports.
In 2018, Towson University launched the Amy Sorrells Caprio Scholarship Endowment to honor Caprio, a 2010 graduate of the university. The scholarship is available to first responders as well as family members of first responders.
The driver of the vehicle that struck and killed Caprio was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life in prison at age 17. The three other teens involved accepted plea deals and were each sentenced to 30 years in prison, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“With the conviction of the four teenagers involved in this incident, and now the dedication of the plaque, we are slowly bringing some degree of closure to this horrible event,” Marks said.