Several years ago, Officer Adrian Hospedale was offered an unglamorous assignment: walking a foot beat through the hardscrabble streets of Southwest Philadelphia's 12th District.
Cops and residents say Hospedale treated the beat like a personal mission and became a positive, comforting presence in a community that sorely needed one.
For this, the 23-year veteran has been named the winner of the 24th annual George Fencl Award.
Daily News readers who nominated Hospedale, an associate pastor at the Wynnefield Baptist Church, said he has often gone beyond the call of duty to resolve neighborhood conflicts and encourage troubled youngsters.
"Adrian has everything you want to see in somebody who wins the Fencl Award," said Capt. Daniel MacDonald, a former Fencl finalist and the commander of the 12th District.
The annual award - named for the legendary late Civil Affairs Inspector George Fencl - is bestowed on a police officer who brings a unique blend of courage, integrity and determination to the job.
"Adrian took a neighborhood foot beat and became a superstar out there," MacDonald said. "He keeps the peace and really puts his heart and soul into the job."
Readers said Hospedale, who has spent most of his career in the 12th District, has helped make merchants and residents feel safer along the Chester Avenue business corridor.
"He has a very calming spirit and demeanor that sets everyone at ease. He defuses situations with the personal touch that says, 'I care about you,' " wrote Vernon Brown, a Southwest resident.
Two finalists were also named: Lt. Michael Dwyer, a 37-year veteran, and Officer Rochelle Bilal, a 23-year veteran.
Readers said Dwyer, assigned to the police Research and Planning Unit, has shown uncommon kindness for decades as a volunteer at the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital.
Dwyer, who has been honored by the Philadelphia Flyers for his contributions to the community, organizes holiday parties and an annual canine show for Shriners' patients. Said one letter-writer: "I wish we could clone Mike."
Bilal works in the Narcotics Unit and serves as the president of the Guardian Civic League, an organization comprised of African-American cops.
One letter writer said Bilal provided "a truckload of gifts, food and even Santa Claus" to low-income families at the Tioga Arms Apartments at Christmas.
"She brought a positive spin on Philadelphia's Finest," the letter writer said.
Fencl judges this year included Police Commissioner Char-les H. Ramsey; FOP president John McNesby; George Fencl's widow, Joan, and son, George Jr.; and Daily News columnist Elmer Smith. *