Former Detective Hal Brook hung it there back on Jan. 30. It was one last prank he pulled on his partner on his last day of work.
“He screwed with me one last time,” said Detective Dave Bixler, who worked with Brook for 25 years.
Brook was known about the station as a guy who ate a lot of bananas. To have a little fun with fellow officers, he'd put the peels on the antennas of police cruisers, Bixler said.
Brook, a 31-year veteran of the department, capped off his career with 2011 Officer of the Year honors. He received the award recently during the department's annual awards ceremony.
“He went out hard-charging like the day he came in,” Chief Arthur Smith said of Brook.
Brook said he was honored to be named Officer of the Year.
“It's just a super way to end a career,” he said.
Hard work: Brook, 62, said he joined the department in 1981 at a time when the West Manchester Mall was still under construction and a call for “shots fired” was unusual.
Manpower at the department has nearly doubled since that time, and the call load has skyrocketed too, he said.
Brook became a detective two years ago after spending most of his career in the patrol division. He wasn't sure if he'd like it at first, he said.
But he found a sense of satisfaction in the time he had to solve cases, something patrol officers are often too busy to tackle.
The appointment also came on the heels of controversy in the department.
Former Detective Steven Edward Crider had been fired about a year earlier for stealing drugs from the department's evidence room. He was sentenced in 2010 to nine to 18 months in prison followed by four years of probation for the crimes.
Bixler said Crider betrayed him, but Brook was someone he could turn to.
“I could trust Hal,” Bixler said. “We knew what (each other) were going to do.”
The two men would work cases until each case was solved or until they simply couldn't go on anymore. After a few hours' sleep, they'd be back on the case.
“Hal's energy and eagerness to come to work each day and work criminal investigations was rewarding to see,” Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Snell, head of the detective division, wrote in his Officer of the Year recommendation.
Friends: Although they worked together for 25 years, Bixler said his friendship with Brook didn't develop until 2005.
The two men volunteered to go to St. Bernard Parish, La., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to help police there.
Bixler and Brook set off for Louisiana in a U-Haul packed with supplies and a police cruiser in tow on a trailer.
The two men did police work along with local police in the heavily damaged parish.
“What we saw was beyond belief,” Bixler said.
After two to three weeks there, Bixler and Brooks started for home as friends. That friendship has carried on since Brook retired, and the two men keep in contact almost daily.
“If I'd known Hal in my younger days, we'd have gotten into some trouble together. Good trouble,” Bixler said.
Staff writer Erin James contributed to this report.
— Reach Greg Gross at 505-5434, email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/greggrss.
West Manchester Township Police honored their own officers, residents and officers from other departments during a recent ceremony.
--A 17-year-old New Salem girl received a Meritorious Service Award from state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, for her efforts to scare off two men who were robbing another man at gunpoint in July 2011.
The men, and a third suspect, were arrested by police.
--Robert Myers III of Audlyn Drive also received the award for helping to save the life of an unresponsive neighbor he found lying in his yard, not breathing, in March 2011.
Myers and officers administered CPR and officers used a defibrillator to save the man's life.
--West York Police Officer Dave Kahley and York City Police Officer Daniel Craven were both awarded Chief's Commendations for aiding township police in arresting three men who robbed a man in the first block of South Alwine Avenue in February 2011.
The following awards were presented to West Manchester Township Police officers for their actions in the line of duty:
--Chief's Commendation: Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Snell; Detectives Dave Bixler and Hal Brook; Sgt. Pete Haines; and Officers John Hanuska, Josh Sefchick, Brad Craig and Timothy Fink.
--Award of Merit: Officers David Keller, Brad Craig, Michael Jordan, Matt Emig and John Hanuska.
--Award of Achievement: Officers Brain Schlemmer, Chris Mills and Adam Bruckhart.
--Sgt. Blaine A. Ruby Traffic Safety Award: Officer Adam Jordan.
--Lifesaving Award: Officers Adam Bruckhart and Michael Jordan.
--Officer of the Year Honorable Mention: Officer Adam Jordan.
--25-Year Service Award: Officer Keith Trapnell, who will retire in September after 26 years with the department.