Maplewood PD Recognizes Police Valor, Service With Awards and Citations

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Maplewood Police Valor Awards 2015

On a recent evening in May, Maplewood Police gathered at the Maplewood Municipal Court and Police building to recognize outstanding police work.

Chief Robert Cimino said that the awards ceremony — in which valor awards, distinguished service awards, command citations and unit citations are distributed — is held periodically in order to recognize the outstanding work of officers.

The award ceremony highlighted “various acts of bravery and professionalism that have been performed by our officers over the last few months,” said Cimino. “These awards include the building collapse incident, but there are also additional awards for disarming a suicidal suspect armed with a knife, the apprehension of an armed homicide suspect, and other exceptional police work.”

Details on each award are listed here. Scroll down for a photo gallery (click on an image to start the slideshow).

Valor Awards:

  • On February 8, 2015 at approximately 4:24 p.m., Maplewood Police Officers responded to a Ridgewood Terrace residence on a report of an emotionally disturbed juvenile threatening to kill himself. Upon arrival, Officers observed the juvenile in the kitchen holding a twelve (12) inch kitchen knife in a tactical manner. After the juvenile refused to drop the knife and stated “I am going to die today”, Officer Da’Shawn Lawson seized an opportunity, while the juvenile was distracted, and grabbed hold of his right hand which was in possession of the knife. The subject did not drop the knife despite verbal command to do so. Officer Christopher Dolias grabbed the juvenile’s right bicep to further restrain him from using the knife. Officer Alexander Wright grabbed the blade of knife with his gloved hand in an attempt to disarm the juvenile. In the process, the blade snapped and he was successfully disarmed. As a result of the courageous actions by these officers, a potentially tragic incident was successfully resolved and the emotionally disturbed juvenile was able to be transported to the hospital for treatment. By virtue of their actions in this incident, these officers have brought great honor to themselves, their families, and the entire Maplewood Police Department.
  • On May 30, 2014 at approximately 9:10 a.m., Maplewood Police Officers responded to the Coda Bar located at 177 Maplewood Ave., Maplewood, NJ in response to a report of two construction workers trapped in debris from a building collapse. During a renovation process a portion of the ground and new wall gave way without warning and with such force it bowled over the two workers, trapping both men beneath dirt and debris. A witness to the collapse contacted Maplewood Central Dispatch for help. Police, Fire, and EMS were dispatched and four Maplewood Police officers arrived simultaneously at the scene and in advance of the other emergency services. Upon arrival Ptl. Rodney Tannenbaum, Ptl. Henry Wasielewski, Sgt. Vincent DeCicco and Ptl. Kraig Huncken entered the basement area where a concrete-block wall had partially collapsed, trapping the two construction workers beneath dirt and debris. Officers Tannenbaum and Wasielewski were the first officers to reach the two victims. Officers observed that one victim was trapped in debris, unresponsive and had suffered a head wound. The second victim was partially covered in dirt and debris from the wall and dirt collapse but he was conscious and breathing. Due to the confined space of the scene Officers Tannenbaum and Wasielewski began to dig away the dirt and debris with their bare hands in an attempt to free the victims as Maplewood Firefighters, heavy rescue units and confined space emergency teams responded. Sgt. DeCicco and Officer Huncken supported the first two officers as they worked to free the victims and monitored the ground and the structure, as they were cognizant of the imminent danger of further collapse. Upon the arrival of the Maplewood Fire Department, the police officers were ordered out of the confined space so that special units could stabilize the space and fully extricate the two victims. By virtue of their actions in this incident, these officers have brought great honor to themselves, their families, and the entire Maplewood Police Department.

Distinguished Service Awards:

  • After policy revision and rigorous identification of policy proofs over the course of more than one year, the Maplewood Police Department successfully achieved a three year New Jersey State Re-Accreditation from the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police in the Fall of 2014. The project required collaboration at various ranks and units throughout the organization as well as requiring the department to pass an in-depth, on-site evaluation by State Assessors. Accreditation Manager Lieutenant Dean Naddeo and Assistant Accreditation Manager Sergeant Thomas DiMaggio demonstrated outstanding dedication to duty and extraordinary professionalism to steer the Maplewood Police Department to successful Re-Accreditation. Their work is recognized for the outstanding contribution to the professionalism and reputation of the Maplewood Police Department brought by achieving Re-Accreditation.
  • On April 3, 2015, Special Services Team Officers James DeFazio and Peter Klebaur were monitoring activity on Irvington Avenue on a robbery suppression detail when they observed a gray Nissan Altima traveling east at a high rate of speed. The officers checked the vehicle plate, determined that the registration was for a rental vehicle and it was expired. The officers stopped the vehicle near 705 Irvington Ave. for the violations. The vehicle was occupied by two males; the driver was identified as Sharmon Dooley, age 30. The officers returned to their vehicle and conducted a NCIC check of the vehicle and driver. The check revealed that the driver was wanted for homicide and additional MPD Units responded to the area to assist. As Officers DeFazio and Klebaur approached the vehicle again to engage Dooley, he accelerated away from the scene to escape arrest. Officers DeFazio and Klebaur re-entered their vehicle and pursued the Nissan as it fled into Newark driving recklessly to evade the officers. Dooley lost control of the vehicle and struck a utility pole on Sanford Ave. where Dooley and the passenger fled on foot. Officers DeFazio and Klebaur pursued the suspects, eventually locating Dooley in a garage and placing him under arrest. The second subject evaded apprehension. A check of the Nissan revealed two loaded handguns on the floor of the vehicle. The incident resulted in the arrest of a dangerous homicide suspect and the recovery of two illegal handguns. As a result of the alert observations and exceptional professionalism, sound tactics, and exposure to the significant dangers of an armed suspect wanted for homicide, Officers DeFazio and Klebaur are awarded the Distinguished Service Award.

Command Citation Awards:

  • On July 14, 2013 at approximately 2153 hours, Officer Jones and Verdun were on patrol and located a stolen vehicle. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle and a pursuit ensued. The stolen vehicle subsequently crashed and Officers were able to take the actor into custody. As a result of the excellent observations and performance of their duties, Officers were able to apprehend the actor who was charged with multiple criminal charges and motor vehicle violations.
  • On April 7, 2014 at approximately 1332 hours, Officer Wasielewski and Brian Rodrigues responded to a residence on Menzel Avenue for a report of an alarm activation. Officer Wasielewski subsequently observed damage to the home indicating a possible burglary had occurred. Officer Wasielewski obtained a description of actors running from the area and advised patrols. Officer Rodrigues then observed a subject matching the description and conducted an investigatory stop. At that time additional units responded to assist. As a result of the quick response and observations by Officers Wasielewski and Rodrigues, two (2) actors were arrested for burglary. 
  • On April 11, 2014 at approximately 1302 hours, Officer Verdun was on patrol and observed a vehicle that he immediately recognized as matching the description of a reported suspicious vehicle earlier in the day. Officer Verdun subsequently conducted a motor vehicle stop to investigate. At that time, additional Officers responded to assist Officer Verdun. It was determined that the occupants were involved in package theft and were also investigated for possible involvement in burglaries in the area. As a result of the excellent observations by Officer Verdun, the actors were arrested without incident.
  • On May 23, 2014, Officer Lawson responded to the area of Fernwood Road on a report of a suspicious male. Officer Lawson subsequently located the individual and as a result of excellent investigation on scene, Officer Lawson determined the actor had just committed a burglary on Fernwood Road. As a result of Officer Lawson’s excellent observation and investigation, a suspect was arrested and subsequently charged with burglary, theft, possession of burglary tools and CDS paraphernalia.
  • On May 31, 2014 at approximately 2125 hours, Officers responded to the area of Girard Place for a report of a burglary. While checking the area for the actor, Officer Fields observed an individual moving through the yards and subsequently out of sight behind a home. Officer Fields exited her patrol vehicle, located the actor, and took him into custody without incident.
  • On August 18, 2014 at approximately 0854, Officers Richard Wright and Josue Tirado responded to the area of Springfield Avenue and Tuscan Street for a report of a strong-arm robbery. Officers Wright and Tirado began a yard to yard search of the area and subsequently located the actor as well as the proceeds. As a result of the excellent work by the Officers, the individual was placed under arrest without incident.
  • On November 10, 2014 at approximately 12:30 p.m. Central Dispatch received a call of a student with a weapon inside of a school. The school went into a lockdown and Sergeant Sally and Officer Rodrigues along with other officers conducted an initial search and located the student who was armed with a set of “brass knuckles and a pocket knife. Due to the allegation that the student was in possession of a weapon, Officers were required to use physical force to subdue the student and take him into custody. The subject was safely taken into custody and charged accordingly.
  • On November 10, 2014 at approximately 2042 hours, Detective Sergeant Albert Sally and Detective Scott Reeves responded to a Waverly Place, South Orange residence on a follow-up to an earlier incident. While Sergeant Sally and Detective Reeves were affecting an arrest, the subject attempted to physically assault them. Detective Reeves and Sergeant Sally then grabbed hold of the subject and used compliance holds in an attempt to affect the arrest. The subject continued to violently struggle and punch the officers with closed fists striking both of them. The violent suspect was finally brought under control by the officers after both officers were assaulted.
  • On November 30, 2014 Officer Munoz conducted a search for a 71 year old missing disoriented male who was last seen leaving his home at 9:00 p.m. on the evening of November 29, 2014 in the area of Boyden Avenue and the Irvington line. Officer Munoz conducted a methodical and thorough search of the area and located the male in a vehicle in the rear of a residence. The male was then safely transported to St. Barnabas Medical Center for evaluation.

Unit Citations: 

Captain Robert Dombrowski ● Captain Michael Marucci ● Lieutenant Joshua Cummis ● Lieutenant Dawn Williams ● Lieutenant Thomas Perna ● Sergeant Albert Sally ● Sergeant Christopher Black ● Sergeant Michael Palmerezzi ● Detective John Plesnik ● Detective Nicholas Rella ● Detective Scott Reeves ● Detective Edward Raith ● Officer Richard Wright ● Officer Mark Ferraro ● Officer Adrian Verdun ● Officer Sebastian Alvarez ● Dispatcher Kimberley Perez ● Dispatcher Bridget Mike ● Reserve Sergeant Kimberly Tortoriello ● Reserve Officer Shaun Chalk ● Reserve Officer Craig Goldstein ● Reserve Officer Lewis Mahaffey ● Reserve Officer Benjamin Ero

  • On May 30, 2014, Officers responded to 177 Maplewood Avenue for a structure collapse with entrapment. All of the above members worked to provide scene security in a business area that has a large volume of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Personnel also had to coordinate the establishment of a staging area which provided logistical challenges due to the number of responding emergency service units. As a result of the excellent teamwork by all of the above members, a complicated and challenging scene was handled in an efficient manner resulting in an expeditious response and resolution to the incident. 
  • On August 15, 2014, Officers responded to the area of Jefferson Avenue for a report of a suspicious person observed walking down a driveway and between two (2) garages. Officers Tannenbaum and Wasielewski spotted the subject and when they attempted to stop the individual, he fled on foot. Both Officers pursued the subject over fences and through yards and were subsequently able to stop the suspect with the assistance of Sergeant DeCicco and Officer Richard Wright. As a result of the excellent teamwork, the suspect was arrested and charged with multiple criminal charges.
  • On October 26, 2014 at approximately 0536, Maplewood Police Dispatcher Patricia Benedetto received a call from an individual reporting actors are breaking into vehicles in the area of Franklin Terrace. Dispatcher Benedetto quickly relayed the information and description of the subjects involved to Officers. Officers Mark Ferraro and Brian Klecka responded to the area and subsequently located one of the actor involved. In addition, the actor was in possession of C.D.S. As a result of the excellent teamwork by Dispatcher Benedetto and Officers Ferraro and Klecka, the individual was arrested without incident.
  • On February 8, 2015 at approximately 1624 hours, Officers responded to a Maplewood residence for a report of an emotionally disturbed juvenile armed with a twelve (12) inch kitchen knife threatening to kill himself. Officers Lance Mesler and Jerry Nichols responded and assisted Officers Da’Shawn Lawson, Alexander Wright and Christopher Dolias with restraining the juvenile and preventing him from injuring himself. In addition, Dispatcher Matthew Giordano handled the incoming call for police assistance as well as communication with the Officers.

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