ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - A retired Army first sergeant and former correctional officer has been selected as the APG Directorate of Emergency Services Police Officer of the Year for 2012. Patrol Officer William P. Mullins was officially recognized as the 2012 honoree during a March 19 ceremony at DES headquarters.

Those on hand to present awards and congratulate Mullins included APG Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton; Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin; Glen Wait, deputy to the garrison commander; Chris Ferris, director of Emergency Services and Maj. Charles Honan, chief, DES Police Services Division.

Mullins served at APG as the first sergeant of the Combat Systems Test Activity for two years before it was re-designated the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in 1995. Fortuitously, all of his post-retirement employment opportunities leaned toward security and law enforcement. He worked as a personal protection specialist (bodyguard); on bridge security for the Maryland Transportation Authority; and as a correctional officer at the Cecil County Detention Center before acquiring a DES security position after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001. In 2008 he applied for and was accepted for training at the former APG Police Academy and has been a DES patrol officer ever since.

Mullins thanked his supervisor, Lt. Barry Barnett and Squad Sgt. Thomas DeMaria for nominating him.

"I had no clue," he said. "I'm humbled and very appreciative that they thought well enough of me to nominate me for this honor."

He surmised that everything he's done since leaving the military has helped shape the law enforcement officer he's become.

"I think law enforcement was always in the back of my mind," said the Brentwood, Long Island native, adding that while in corrections he learned as much from fellow officers as he did from the criminals they were paid to oversee. In every arena, communication skills - how well you communicate with others -- is paramount Mullins said.

A successful "encounter" with an irate driver, for example, is when the offender understands why they are in violation of a particular offense and is in agreement even if they are ticketed.

"It's all about how you talk to people," he said.

He said that what he appreciates about APG the most is that he's still learning.

"You learn something new every day, whether you realize it or not," he said. "We deal with the same things on post that they deal with outside the gates only with less frequency."

Noting APG's high-profile test and evaluation and chemical-biological missions, he added, "And we can't afford to get complacent. Because out of all the false alarms or resolved incidents, there always remains the potential for this call to be 'That One Time.' You have to have that mindset. You have to stay ready.

"He said that at the end of the day, success is measured by, "your own personal [level of] satisfaction and attitude."

"The best part about working here is the people I work with. Coming back to APG was like coming back to being a part of the Army family. I still run into people who knew me before I worked on Gate 13 and they still call me 'first sergeant' and ask about my family."

He added that DES is a good place for those starting out in law enforcement as well as for those with years of experience behind them.

"We have a lot of retired officers from other departments and states with 20-plus years experience on me," he said. "This is a great place for the younger guys to get their feet wet in the system. As for me, I like being here because it's close to home.

"I've already had my career. I'm happy where I am and I enjoy what I'm doing."