2009 Awards Synopsis
Commendation Award to Asbury Park Police Officer Johnny Washington: On September 3, 2008, while on patrol, Police Officer Johnny Washington observed two individuals arguing. Police Officer Washington exited his vehicle as one individual swung a knife slicing the other man’s shoulder and arm. Police Officer Washington ordered the suspect to drop the knife, but the suspect refused and turned towards Officer Washington with knife in hand. After repeatedly ordering the suspect to drop his weapon, the man finally complied and was taken into custody by Officer Washington.
Commendation Award to Freehold Township Police Officer William Gallo: On November 25, 2008, while off-duty and traveling in his personal vehicle, Police Officer William Gallo observed a dark colored Volvo driving erratically – racing on the roadway – going through a red light, all of which caused Officer Gallo to contact Freehold Township Police Headquarters and request patrol assistance to deal with the situation. The police dispatcher advised Officer Gallo that a purse snatching had recently occurred which involved a dark colored Volvo near the location where Officer Gallo initially observed the Volvo. Officer Gallo continued to follow the suspect vehicle until back-up arrived and the Volvo was pulled over. Due to the diligence and professionalism of Officer Gallo, the purse snatcher was arrested without further incident.
Commendation Awards to Keansburg Patrolwoman Tiffany Dill and Patrolmen Leslie Thompson and Michael Deaney: On June 28, 2008 Keansburg Patrolwoman Tiffany Dill and Patrolman Michael Deaney responded to a call concerning three swimmers in distress approximately 125 yards from the Raritan Avenue beach. At that time there was a storm with heavy rain, wind, lightning and thunder, which made it almost impossible for the swimmers to make their way back to shore. Officers Dill and Deaney entered the water and began making their way out to the swimmers to effect a rescue. Officer Thompson, who was off-duty, but working as a security guard at the Keansberg Water Park, enlisted the assistance of four lifeguards, James Ferrick, James Curran, Danielle Giampiccolo and Mark Morris, and all five entered the water to assist Dill and Deaney in the rescue of the three swimmers, which was accomplished with no further injury to the victims or their rescuers.
Commendation Award to Manasquan Firefighter Brad Sepe: On the night of August 8, 2008 Manasquan Firefighter Brad Sepe heard the alarm for a fire at 60 Virginia Avenue, a neighboring property to Firefighter Sepe’s home. Firefighter Sepe surveyed the scene from his property and ascertained that there was a working fire in a dumpster in the driveway at 60 Virginia Avenue, with an exposure to the dwelling. Firefighter Sepe, a self-employed contractor, drove a fork lift from his residence, to 60 Virginia Avenue, and removed the dumpster from the residence allowing responding units to extinguish the fire preventing damage to the house.
Commendation Award to Middletown Township First Aid & Rescue Squad Lieutenant Bob Pfleger: On November 15, 2008 Middletown Township Police Department dispatched a call regarding a motor vehicle accident on Port Monmouth Road, the exact location being unknown, other than the caller identified her vehicle as overturned and in the woods. Enroute to the presumed location, Lieutenant Pfleger spotted a vehicle on its roof in the marshes and immediately called in the correct location of the vehicle to other responders, who were searching over ¾ of a mile from the actual crash site. Lieutenant Pfleger then waded through unknown depths of the marsh to make his way to the crash site. Upon reaching the scene, he encountered the hysterical driver who was trapped in the vehicle, with water entering the passenger compartment. Lieutenant Pfleger attempted to ascertain if the driver had any injuries, however her only concern was exiting the vehicle so she wouldn’t drown. Lieutenant Pfleger broke the passenger side front window and removed the driver to safety.
Commendation Awards to Neptune Township Police Officers Paul Monahan and Gregory Washington: On September 6, 2008 Officers Monahan and Washington were assigned to the Neptune Township Quality of Life unit, which was part of a multi-agency task force investigating a rash of bank robberies in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, including two bank robberies that had occurred in Neptune Township. As part of a surveillance operational plan, Officers Monahan and Washington observed a vehicle consistent with the description of a vehicle that may have been involved in the robberies. Further observations resulted in witnessing the operator of the vehicle enter a bank. Officers Monahan and Washington were able to identify the subject, and the joint investigative team was able to link the suspect with numerous bank robberies. Based on the information provided by Officers Monahan and Washington, the suspect was arrested the next day while entering a bank in Lakewood, New Jersey. Evidence obtained at the time of arrest indicated the suspect was about to commit yet another bank robbery.
Commendation Awards to Neptune Township Police Officers Kyheem Davis and Vincent Letsch: On November 9, 2008 Officers Davis and Letsch responded to a 911 call involving a woman who had fallen down a flight of stairs and was unresponsive and not breathing. The Officers quickly assessed the situation and began administering CPR. With no immediate response to CPR, the Officers were able to deploy an Automated External Defibrillator to monitor and treat the patient. After numerous cycles of CPR and administering several electric shocks through AED, a faint pulse and breathing were re-established in the patient, who was subsequently transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Where the patient made a full recovery.
Commendation Award to NJSP Detective II Christopher Stafyleras: During the year 2008 Detective Stafyleras, while working as a station detective, initiated 55 criminal investigations, arrested 88 subjects, completed 326 supplemental investigations, seized a variety of narcotics and cash. Detective Stafyleras’ investigative work and results are a credit to himself and the New Jersey State Police.
Commendation Award to Red Bank Patrolman David Smith: On June 4, 2008 Patrolman Smith was working the day shift when a 911 call came into Red Bank of a bank robbery in progress at the Bank of America in Middletown. As the information was disseminated regarding the escape path of the robber, Patrolman Smith began traveling south of Highway 35 when information advised of the suspect vehicle being registered to a person in Eatontown. Patrolman Smith continued to the address given and on the way spotted the suspect vehicle. Patrolman Smith pulled the vehicle over and executed a felony stop, resulting in the arrest of the bank robber.
Commendation Awards to Red Bank Police Sergeants Richard Mangold, Joseph Milko, Patrolman Patrick Kennedy and Firefighter Robert Holiday, Jr: On July 27, 2008 while on his way home after completing an extra duty assignment, at approximately 4AM, Sergeant Mangold detected an odor of smoke in the area of West Street and West Front Street. Sergeant Mangold quickly located a structure fire at 28-30 West Street. Heavy smoke and flames were observed coming out of the rear of the building on the first floor. Sergeant Mangold was able to wake up the only resident home who was sleeping on the second floor. The resident came to front window and started to yell for help. Sergeant Mangold was able to calm her down and instructed her to exit the building on the front porch roof. Once on the roof, Sergeants Mangold and Milko, Patrolman Kennedy and Firefighter Holiday were able to assist the victim off the roof with Mangold and Milko holding her legs and Kennedy and Holiday holding her waist, and were able to lower the victim safely to the ground.
Commendation Award to Spring Lake Heights Patrolman Thomas P. Kenny: From September 2, 2006 through May 21, 2007, a series of eleven bank robberies occurred in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. All of these robberies were committed by a lone white male wearing various facial coverings including ski masks or a motorcycle helmet. In several of the robberies the subject carried a semi-automatic pistol, with which he intimidated bank personnel and on almost every occasion escaped with large quantities of cash. On May 21, 2007, a white mail subject disguised in a motorcycle helmet and carrying a semi-automatic pistol entered the Investor’s Savings Bank in Brick Township. After robbing the bank, the subject fled the area in a silver compact vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Patrolman Kenny (who, at that time, was employed by the Toms River Police Department) observed a vehicle matching the description of the getaway vehicle. Patrolman Kenny alertly followed the vehicle for a short period of time and upon observing a traffic violation committed by the operator of the vehicle, pulled the vehicle to the side of the road. Upon approaching the vehicle, Patrolman Kenny observed a motorcycle helmet matching the description of the helmet used in the bank robbery. Patrolman Kenny then questioned the operator of the vehicle and concluded the individual was responsible for the recent bank robbery. Patrolman Kenny immediately placed the suspect under arrest. Shortly thereafter, the subject confessed to robbing or attempting to rob eleven banks from September 2, 2006 to May 21, 2007, and made off with over $150,000 in cash.
Commendation Awards to Wall Township Patrolman Paul Mabin and Emmett Idzahl: On February 26, 2008, Patrolmen Mabin and Idzahl responded to a 911 call concerning a subject that was unresponsive and in respiratory arrest at the Atlantic Club. Upon arrival, Patrolmen Mabin and Idzahl began performing CPR on the victim, and administered a shock using the automatic defibrillator, which saved the life of the victim.
Commendation Award to Wall Township Patrolman Emmett Idzahl: On October 25, 2008, in response to a MOCIB alert issued by the Eatontown Police for an armed robbery occurring at the Cabaret Bar, Patrolman Idzahl was assigned an MOCIB post on Highway 35 and Belmar Boulevard, in Wall Township, where he observed the suspect vehicle. Patrolman Idzahl notified Wall Dispatch and followed the suspect vehicle. It was decided that a high-risk motor vehicle stop would be initiated by Patrolman Idzahl in the less congested area of Route 70 westbound. Wall PD units, with assistance from the Brielle Police Department, shut the roadway down for westbound traffic. During the stop three occupants could be observed in the suspect vehicle, at which time Patrolman Izdahl utilized his PA system to exit each occupant individually from the vehicle and lay flat on the roadway. Each suspect was met with an overwhelming police presence that included ten Wall patrol units that tactically covered the suspects and a handcuffing team that secured each suspect. The investigation at the scene led to two handguns being recovered, as well as one imitation handgun, together with the stolen cash. All three suspects were processed and turned over to Eatontown Detectives.
Merit Awards to Hazlet Township Patrolmen Christopher Acevedo, Robert Mulligan, Ted Wittke, and Kevin Geoghan: In the early hours of July 19, 2008, the Matawan Police Department broadcast a BOLO for a silver or grey Honda occupied by two black males involved in an armed robbery with shots fired. Approximately five minutes later, Hazlet Township Patrolman Acevedo initiated a motor vehicle stop on a light colored Toyota with three occupants in Hazlet Township and was immediately backed up by Patrolmen Mulligan, Wittke and Geoghan. As Patrolman Acevedo started questioning the three occupants of the vehicle, the occupant in the back seat appeared nervous and when ordered to exit the vehicle, he attempted to keep his hands from sight, at which point Patrolman Wittke observed a silver hand gun on the back seat next to the occupant and loudly shouted “gun” to warn the other officers. All four officers drew their weapons and arrested the occupants of the vehicle without further incident.
Merit Award to Holmdel Police Sergeant Keith Cannata: On January 29, 2009, Holmdel Police and Fire Department personnel were dispatched to a reported structure fire at a private residence in Holmdel. Sergeant Cannata, the first officer on the scene, observed the right side of the dwelling was fully engulfed in flames. Upon exiting his vehicle, Sergeant Cannata was informed that two elderly residents were believed to be inside the dwelling. Sergeant Cannata, without benefit of any fire safety equipment, entered the residence and discovered an elderly gentleman immediately inside the doorway, who was guided to safety by a neighbor. Sergeant Cannata, in disregard of his personal safety, re-entered the house and located an elderly woman in the rear of the house, and carried her to safety.
Merit Awards to Keansburg Police Chief Raymond B. O’Hare, Captain Michael Allfrey, and Patrolman James Nelson: On May 19, 2009 Captain Allfrey and Patrolman Nelson responded to a private residence to investigate a report of a woman in possession of a hand grenade. The woman, who was extremely agitated and distraught, threatened to pull the pin on the grenade and blow everyone up. As other Officers evacuated the neighborhood and set up a perimeter, Captain Allfrey and Patrolman Nelson began to engage the woman in conversation, who was complaining that she needed money. At this time Chief O’Hare arrived on the scene and engaged the woman in conversation. Once he understood the woman was in need of money, he offered her $100 for the grenade. The woman accepted the offer and as she held onto the money, she handed over the grenade to Captain Allfrey, and quickly grabbed a 12 inch butcher knife which she held to her throat and threatened to kill herself. The Officers continued to engage the woman in conversation and finally were able to convince her to drop the knife at which point she was taken into custody.
Merit Award to Long Branch Police Officer Michael Monahan: On the night of September 7, 2008, Long Branch Police Officer Monahan arrived at the Pier Village jetty to assist another officer on a first aid call, when he noticed a man caught in a rip current off the jetty was being pulled out to sea. Officer Monahan, recognizing the dangerous situation, and in disregard of his personal safety, immediately ran into the water, fought his way out to the distressed swimmer, grabbed hold of the man and brought him back to shore, saving his life.
Merit Award to NJSP Sergeant Christopher Wagner: On November 18, 2008 while driving eastbound on I-195, Sergeant Wagner observed a vehicle traveling westbound on I-195 and being operated in an extremely erratic manner – traveling along the grass off of the right shoulder, veering across two lanes of traffic cutting off numerous vehicles, driving into the center meridian and continuing on the grassy median. Sergeant Wagner immediately u-turned and overtook the target vehicle, displaying lights and sounding his siren, all of which had no impact on the operator of the target vehicle. Unable to get the driver’s attention and realizing that the driver appeared to be suffering from a medical emergency, Sergeant Wagner drove his troop car directly in front of the target vehicle and allowed the target vehicle’s front bumper to make contact with the troop car’s rear bumper. Sergeant Wagner was able to slow the target vehicle to a stop in the left lane of travel and center median. Sergeant Wagner estimated the speed of his troop car to be in excess of 90 MPH at the time contact was made with the target vehicle. Once stopped, Sergeant Wagner called for EMS and was responsible for saving the life of the driver, as well as the life of her small child.
Valor Award to Marlboro Patrolman Gerald Arminio: In the early hours of May 21, 2008, Marlboro Township Police dispatch reported an overturned vehicle with entrapment on Route 520 by Campus Drive. Patrolman Armino arrived first on the scene in less than a minute and in total disregard of his personal safety, entered the burning vehicle and removed the trapped subject, who surveyed due to the officer’s quick and decisive actions.
Valor Award to Monmouth County Corrections Officer John Poplawski: On the afternoon of November 7, 2008, Officer Poplawski was attacked by an inmate at the Monmouth County Jail who was attempting to escape the facility. Blindsided by the vicious attack in the inmate’s cell, Officer Poplawski suffered a shattered cheekbone and dislocated shoulder, and in total disregard of his safety, Officer Poplawski managed to turn the tables on his attacker. Using one arm, Officer Poplawski pulled the inmate from his cell and threw both the attacker and himself down a 20 foot stairway, thereby foiling the escape attempt and alerting other officers who came to assist Officer Poplawski. Officer Poplawski has endured multiple surgeries and is fighting to make a full recovery.
Valor Awards to Wall Township Police Sergeant John Brady and Patrolman Michael Hurden: On January 10, 2008 the Wall Township Police Department received a report of a motor vehicle accident involving a tractor-trailer truck and an SUV. It was further reported that the SUV was lodged beneath the tractor-trailer, causing the SUV operator to be trapped, and the vehicle was ablaze. Patrolman Hurden was the first responder at the scene and he immediately entered the burning vehicle in an attempt to remove the trapped driver, but was unable to do so as the vehicle was lodged firmly under the tractor-trailer. At this time, Sergeant Brady arrived on the scene and together he and Patrolman Hurden utilized fire extinguishers to suppress the flames that were engulfing the vehicle while a civilian utilized his pick-up truck and tow strap to dislodge the victim’s vehicle from under the tractor-trailer. Once the SUV was dislodged, Patrolman Hurden and Sergeant Brady, with the assistance of other civilians on the scene, and in total disregard of their personal safety, again entered the burning SUV and this time successfully pulled the victim to safety.