By Mark Rosman
MANALAPAN – The newest member of the Manalapan Police Department will use his keen sense of smell to help his fellow officers continue their battle to rid the municipality of illegal drugs.
Grim, a spirited German shepherd, was introduced to residents and municipal officials during the May 11 meeting of the Township Committee. Those who made it possible for Manalapan to acquire the police dog were recognized during the meeting.
Saluted for their efforts were former mayor George Spodak; Dr. Alan Farber of the Manalapan Animal Clinic and Hospital; Wegmans of Manalapan; Battleground Country Club; Froehlich Financial Group Ltd.; and MoJo’s Morsels.
Patrolman Adam Sosnowski will be Grim’s handler and partner. The pair began their training in August 2015 and trained for four months. Following their initial training, Sosnowski and Grim attended narcotics detection training school, from which they were scheduled to graduate on May 20, according to municipal officials.
Police Chief Michael Fountain thanked everyone responsible for the donations that made the start-up of the department’s K-9 unit possible.
Capt. Thomas Barstow said K-9 officers are “a true asset to our profession.”
Committeeman Jack McNaboe said a K-9 unit is “an absolute necessity. They supplement our officers. I will say it, we have a drug problem and this dog will help get drugs off the street.”
Grim made his public debut on the night that the police department held its annual awards ceremony. Many members of the police department filled the meeting room at town hall to salute their fellow officers and to recognize them for their achievements during 2015.
Honored for 15 years of service in Manalapan were Patrolman Jennie Rae Hensley, Patrolman Edward Hedden, Patrolman Brian Cruse, Patrolman Ross Dessel and Patrolman Steven Turner.
Honored for 10 years of service in Manalapan were Sgt. Robert Herring, Patrolman Dennis O’Brien and the police department’s executive assistant, Michelle Miller.
Dessel and Patrolman John Lightbody received the Life-Saving Award. The officers answered a call and found an unresponsive male. Dessel and Lightbody performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) on the man, according to Barstow.
Following the use of the AED, the man regained a pulse and was transported to a hospital for additional treatment. Barstow said this was Dessel’s third Life-Saving Award.
Patrolman Kyle Earley, a lifelong resident of Manalapan, received the Drug Buster Award. Barstow said Earley made at least one narcotics arrest during every month in 2015.
Patrolman Brian Schanck received the Educational Achievement Award for completing work on a college degree.
Patrolman Bryan Belardo was named the police department’s Officer of the Year for 2015. Fountain said the selection was made by former chief Chris Marsala before he retired on March 31, based on recommendations from superior officers.
Belardo, who has worked in Manalapan for 13 years, is “instrumental in our department. He is our field training officer for new officers. He gets our new officers ready to go out on the road,” Fountain said.
Fountain commended Belardo for developing confidential sources who have helped the department in its ongoing effort to remove illegal narcotics from Manalapan’s streets.