Do Good Hero Nomination: Joseph Alton, Captain at Havre de Grace Police Department


Joseph Alton, Captain
Havre de Grace Police Department
Havre de Grace, MD

About Joseph Alton

Captain Joseph Alton was nominated by Ryan Behnken of Worthington Financial Partners. The following nomination contains testimonials from multiple colleagues and community members.

Captain Alton became a member of the Havre de Grace Police Department in 2018 after he retired from the Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department (MDT A.PD). He was first introduced to the Special Olympics Maryland (SOMO) organization while in law enforcement at the MDT A.PD. Captain Alton started by simply volunteering and fundraising to support the athletes. However, what began as a simple act of kindness became a burning desire for him to grow the Special Olympic movement.

Captain Alton has been involved with the Law Enforcement Torch Run for SOMO for over 15 years. He has served as his agency coordinator and state regional coordinator and has been the lead on many fundraising events like the Polar Bear Plunge and Tunnel Run. Captain Alton has raised over $250K for SOMO through fundraising events and the annual Tee Shirt campaign. Not only has he committed himself to raising funds for SOMO, but he attends both the Summer and Winter Games to present awards to the athletes.

Due to his dedication and commitment to Special Olympics, Captain Alton was selected to represent Maryland's Law Enforcement at the 2015 International Special Olympics World Games. He represents the best qualities in Law Enforcement, optimizes the core values of community policing, and is a true hero to the athletes of SOMO. His commitment to the community is among his most impactful leadership qualities. He understands the importance of investing in the community and building quality relationships, so he works with his team to identify synergies where Law Enforcement and SOMO can be actively engaged with pride in knowing they are making lives across Maryland better.

"The authenticity of his engagement provides organic opportunities to impact the lives of our athletes, which is a direct result of his leadership," said James Schmutz, President and CEO of SOMO.

Captain Alton leads by example by being present at competitions and special events whenever and wherever possible. Most recently, he joined about 20 other Law Enforcement Torch Run representatives to participate in the torch lighting ceremony at SOMO's Summers Games at Towson University on June 23rd.

"We currently have 15,588 active athletes and Unified Sports® teammates with a budget of $7m. Joe's efforts are having a positive influence in helping us raise more money and reach more athletes and Unified teammates. His commitment to our athletes has been important to Special Olympics Maryland as we strive to improve the quality of life, health, and well-being of Marylanders with intellectual disabilities. Joe's leadership is helping us build interactive, inclusive communities of dignity and respect across the state, whereby tens of thousands of lives are touched and transformed every year. Through sport, we are creating a world where opportunity is not limited by disability," said Schultz.

His passion for SOMO didn't end just because he retired from Maryland Transportation Authority Police Department. Captain Alton made the easy transition from representing one law enforcement agency to representing another, the Havre de Grace Police Department, in their efforts to expand and grow their relationship with SOMO.

Captain Alton not only gets his colleagues involved with SOMO; his wife Christina and their daughter Olivia also join him with any opportunity they can to help the athletes. Recently, they trained an athlete to represent Maryland at the 2023 Law Enforcement Torch Run Final Leg World Games in Berlin, Germany.

"I knew Joe for many years because of his work with Special Olympics Maryland. He did not hesitate to step up and help me prepare for the Final Leg of the Torch Run," said Stacey Hull, the athlete. "Joe would work with me in the gym to build my strength and endurance. I didn't know what a burpee was until Joe introduced me to them. I don't like them. But without Joe working with me, it would have been tough to have done so well in Germany. And when Joe couldn't be at the gym with me, his wife Christina encouraged me. Joe also helped me with the speech I had to give during the Final Leg of the World Games. He did not cut me any slack. The speech had to be just right, and it was great with Joe's ideas and suggestions. So I guess you could say Joe helped me get strong AND smart. Joe helped me see that, 'Sometimes life is about showing up.'"

During the COVID pandemic, when everything shut down, that did not deter Captain Alton from raising funds to help the athletes. He organized a Polar Bear Plunge in the Susquehanna River off the shore in the City of Havre de Grace! Captain Alton was determined to keep the Special Olympic spirit alive. Within a week in February, he had all the safety precautions and protocols in place. That one afternoon, on the coldest day of the winter (of course), Captain Alton had all of the plungers ready to go. He live-streamed the event, and along with folks just walking by to see the excitement, Captain Alton raised over $5,000 in an hour for Special Olympic athletes.

"I appreciate the widespread support from law enforcement within our city, particularly officers like Captain Alton, for all his efforts on behalf of Maryland Special Olympic athletes," said Havre de Grace Mayor William Martin. "Joe does not delegate duties to others; he is always there during the games presenting medals to the winners. He encourages law enforcement and our community to get involved with Special Olympics, whether to help fundraise, work with the athletes, or present awards. His dedication makes our community and the State of Maryland better. I am very proud of Capt. Alton and everything he has done for Special Olympics Maryland over the years.

"While many people have plaques on their walls or trophies they won, Joe has on his office wall the Special Olympic motto. 'Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.' I thank Joe for his undying commitment to the athletes and his relentless encouragement and support for Special Olympics Maryland," said Havre de Grace Police Department Chief Teresa Walter.