Officer of the Month June 2000

Chief Mark A. Spawn

Fulton (NY) Police Department

Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Chief Mark A. Spawn, of the Fulton (NY) Police Department, as its Officer of the Month for June 2000.
As the head of his agency, Chief Spawn can delegate the most sensitive and emotionally taxing duties to anyone in his department. He chooses, however, to handle these matters himself, as Christine Roth, a resident of Fulton, learned first hand three years ago. On October 12, 1997, her 28-year-old son, Officer John Richard Sowa, of the Atlanta (GA) Police Department, responded to a disturbance call. As officers entered the residence, the suspect opened fire, killing Officer Sowa and critically wounding his partner. As he would have done had Officer Sowa been with the Fulton Police Department, Chief Spawn immediately came to the aid of the Roth family. He organized memorial services and events to honor the memory of the young officer and went so far as to post Officer Sowa’s photo at police headquarters as a reminder to those under his command.
His commitment to the family during that most difficult time led to the strong friendship that exists today. “I’ve never met a person who cares so much about people, which is what makes him an extraordinary police chief,” says Mrs. Roth. “It was so hard to lose our son, but Chief Spawn was there for us. He is a kind and compassionate person.”
Compassion and caring are not the only traits for which Chief Spawn is known. He is recognized throughout New York for his innovative leadership and tenacious crime solving skills.
Certified as an Emergency Medical Technician in 1978, Mark Spawn joined the Fulton Police Department in 1983 and within three years was promoted to Sergeant. He developed a keen interest in arson cases, crime scene technology, fingerprint science and child abuse investigations. Over time he qualified as an expert witness in fingerprint identification and published an article entitled Effects of Fire on Fingerprint Evidence, which has been reprinted in law enforcement publications nationwide.
Shortly thereafter, then-Sergeant Spawn was assigned to the Bank Robbery Task Force in the Closing Time Bandit case, the investigation of a violent serial bank robber. For his work on the task force he received a commendation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Unit Citation from the City of Fulton.
In 1996 he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Police, and was directly responsible for all criminal investigations as well as the patrol, traffic and training divisions within the department. During this time he was a presenter for the Oswego County Child Abuse Task Force for training on the Investigation of Child Sexual Abuse. He developed tactical plans for search warrant details and other high-risk activities. Within one year of his 1997 promotion to Chief of Police, the Fulton Police Department received its accreditation from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which awarded Chief Spawn, as the program manager, its Certificate of Achievement.
Over the years Chief Spawn has received numerous awards, including the 1997 Ten Outstanding New Yorkers Award, presented by the New York State Jaycees and the 1999 DeWitt Clinton Masonic Award for Community Service. Chief Spawn is proud that he has never had to fire his weapon at another individual.
Chief Spawn’s professional affiliations include the Fraternal Order of Police, the New York State Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, the International Association of Identification and the British Fingerprint Society. He serves on the board of the Central New York Association of Chiefs of Police. In 1995 he graduated from the 180th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia and is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates.
Married with one child, Chief Spawn is a committed distance runner and a member of the Syracuse Chargers Track Club, through which he received the Presidential Sports Award. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the local Catholic Charities chapter.
A former law enforcement officer, Fulton Mayor Michael Stafford is proud of his protégé. “I think Chief Spawn is very deserving of this award” declared Mayor Stafford. “He’s been an asset to our department from the time he was hired. He has undertaken many projects to improve policing in Fulton; the latest is on school terrorism. He works well with a cross section of the community to accomplish goals in safeguarding our citizens.”
Police Unity Tour
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.