Two Centre County policemen get Officer of the Year Awards

PHOTO PROVIDED From left are State College Police Chief John Gardner, State College Detective John Aston, PSP Trooper Jeffrey Ebeck, PSP Corporal Thomas Stock and PSP Sergeant Jared Hartsock.

BELLEFONTE — Detective John W. Aston of the State College Police Department and Trooper Jeffrey M. Ebeck, stationed at the Rockview state police barracks, received the 2018 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award at a ceremony Tuesday.

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna made the presentations.

Each year the Centre County District Attorney’s Office receives nominations from the public, law enforcement and government agencies for the honor. There were four nominations this year and two officers were chosen for their commitment and hard work.

The award is given for exceptional achievement in any police endeavor, on duty or off duty, including extraordinary valor, crime prevention, investigative work, community policing, traffic safety, drug control and prevention, juvenile programs and training programs.

Cantorna gave opening and closing remarks. Each award recipient also spoke briefly during the ceremony at the Centre County Courthouse.



Detective John W. Aston has been a member of the State College Police Department since 1995 and a detective since 2003. Since 2011, Detective Aston has been qualified as an expert in cellphone forensics and has assisted local, state and federal agencies in the downloading and analysis of information from cellphones and smart phones.

In 2018, his analyses were instrumental in multiple cases that went to trial in Centre County. Those cases included the murder trials of Danelle Geier, George Ishler, Matthew Dreibelbis and Ardell Gross.

That analysis included recovering information that had been deleted; providing location information regarding suspects, witnesses and defendants; and proving the criminal conspiracies to commit these crimes. Detective Aston regularly made himself available to agencies outside State College and his attention to detail was instrumental in prosecuting these cases.



Trooper Jeffrey M. Ebeck has been a member of the Pennsylvania State Police for 17 years. Trooper Ebeck was the lead detective in the murder trial of Matthew Dreibelbis and worked extensively in the murder trials of George Ishler and Danelle Geier. His thorough preparation and attention to detail helped build two first degree murder cases where juries reached verdicts in less than three hours.

Trooper Ebeck’s interviews of the defendants and witnesses led to confessions which were substantiated by the physical evidence and other interviews completed by Trooper Ebeck and the team of troopers investigating these crimes.

The two other nominees were Detective Nicholas Sproveri and Detective Bill Witmer.

Sproveri, a member of the Penn State University Police Department since 2010, has conducted and assisted in a variety of criminal investigation where his skills and advanced cyber forensic training were instrumental in solving the cases.

Witmer has been a member of the Bellefonte Police Department since 2017. He has 16 years of law enforcement experience in Centre County and California and was promoted to detective in 2018.