SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Although the South Brunswick Police Department did not hold its annual awards ceremony during Police Week in May, due to the coronavirus pandemic, officers received awards individually at the end of December to mark their bravery and perseverance.
The awards were submitted to a committee of officers for a determination of their merits. A final report was submitted to the chief of police who authorized the awards.
“These officers’ actions stopped violent criminals, saved lives and enhanced our community. This has been a difficult year, but reviewing these awards just reinforces what a great department we have. I also want to thank the community members who step up year after year to make our township great,” Chief Raymond Hayducka said in a prepared statement.
The 2020 awards are broken down into four categories: Exceptional Service Award, Lifesaving, Community Service/Letter of Commendation, and Civilian Award. The awards recognize actions taken during 2019.
All of the information was provided by the South Brunswick Police Department.
The Exceptional Service Award recognizes the outstanding work of officers and detectives to track down suspects, solve cases and bring justice to victims. It is the highest award given this year.
Exceptional Service Award – Exploited Victims Investigation: Detective Brian Sites
Detective Brian Sites investigated a series of crimes where young woman were being exploited and extorted on the internet. Sites conducted a four-month investigation that included the procurement of numerous court orders, the execution of search warrants, seizure of digital evidence and the examination of thousands of images. He coordinated with the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crime Unit and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to pursue a suspect. His investigation determined the suspect had been victimizing young women for several years. His comprehensive investigation led to the arrest and conviction of the suspect. His work brought closure to the victims and an end to the sexual exploitation.
Exceptional Service Award – Dark Web Drug Operation Arrests: Lt. Jeffrey Russo
Lt. Jeffrey Russo conducted a yearlong joint investigation along with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Agency into narcotics trafficking over the “Dark Web.” The joint investigation concluded with the execution of multiple search warrants throughout the state of New Jersey. The investigation resulted in the largest seizure of Xanax in the state. Five subjects were arrested and charged with multiple counts of trafficking narcotics. Russo’s hard work, dedication and inter-agency coordination led to the successful conclusion of this case.
Exceptional Service – Dispute Investigation: Officer Michael Urstadt
Officer Michael Urstadt investigated a dispute incident on June 30 where the actor reported that he was the victim of a stabbing. The actual victim was afraid to call the police because she suffered significant abuse by the male. Urstadt’s investigation determined that the true victim in the assault was the woman and the man had staged the crime scene. The woman was treated for substantial injuries and the man was arrested. Urstadt’s diligent investigation ensured a strong evidence based prosecution.
Exceptional Service Award – Fatal Hit and Run Arrest: Traffic Safety Bureau – Sgt. Gary Holsten, Officer Michael Leung, Officer Jesse Blake, Officer William Merkler
The Traffic Safety Bureau responded to a fatal hit and run motor vehicle crash on Route 535 on Aug. 8. The investigation was complex, including the processing of three separate crime scenes over a five mile area, multiple witness interviews, DNA/evidence collection and multiple search warrants. The investigation resulted in tracking down and arresting the suspect responsible for the death. The investigation demonstrated the initiative, skill and dedication.
Exceptional Service – Handgun Arrest: Lt. Scott Reeves and Officer Bryan Garrison
Officer Bryan Garrison responded to a report of an individual who had brandished a firearm on Aug. 13. Garrison quickly located the suspect vehicle and coordinated a high risk motor vehicle stop with other officers, removing all occupants. Lt. Scott Reeves canvassed the route the suspect vehicle had traveled, successfully recovering a loaded firearm with hollow point ammunition. The coordination of efforts led to the arrest of the actor with no injuries to the victims, suspect, bystanders or officers.
Exceptional Service Award – Robbery Arrest: Detective Domenick Delucia, Detective Brian Sites
While off duty on Oct. 11, Detective Domenick Delucia observed a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle involved in a recent gas station armed robbery. Delucia quickly coordinated assistance with other officers and Detective Brian Sites responded. The suspect exited a store and officers approached to speak with him. The suspect fled on foot with detectives in pursuit. The detectives captured the suspect after a half mile foot chase. The investigation brought an end to a robbery spree that spanned two states and three counties. Delucia’s and Sites’s awareness and quick actions led to took a dangerous criminal off the streets.
Exceptional Service Award – Armed Suspect Arrest: Sgt. Richard Hutchison, Officer Gagan Chopra, Officer George Morgan, Officer Jarrid Harpster
Officers responded to a hotel on a report of a wanted man with a stolen shotgun on Dec. 22. Officers quickly arrived and officers conducted a systematic search of the five-story hotel. The team of officers ultimately located the armed suspect behind a banquet table. They were able to take him into custody without any injury to hotel guests, officers or the suspect. The quick actions of this team neutralized a dangerous situation.
The Life Saving Medal is given to officers whose actions saved the life of a person.
Officer George Vit, Officer Joseph Marrero, Officer Joseph Rausch and Officer Jason Stonkus responded to a report of an 88-year-old male who was unresponsive on Sept. 17. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery. Their actions saved his life
Officer Jarrid Harpster and Officer Kent English responded to a report of a male who had stabbed himself in the chest multiple times on Dec. 10. Harpster determined that the male was suffering from a sucking chest wound. Harpster improvised and used a plastic bag with duct tape to create a chest seal to stabilize the victim. Harpster and English continued to provide lifesaving care until the arrival of advanced emergency medical services. Their prompt actions saved the man’s life.
Officer Daniel Rodriguez, Officer Michael Urstadt, Officer Tyler Harpster and Officer Jason Stonkus responded to a report of a 49-year-old male who was unresponsive on Aug. 1. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery. Their actions saved his life.
Officer Christopher Magee-Vanderveen, Officer Daniel Rodriguez and Officer Michael Urstadt responded to a report of a 48-year-old male who was unresponsive on July 22. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery. Their actions saved his life.
The Community Service Award/Letter of Commendation is given to officers who make the actions and effort improve the lives of residents and enhance the community.
Sgt. Nathan Labuda has organized the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run in South Brunswick for the last seven years. Labuda coordinated fundraising efforts which resulted in substantial donations to New Jersey Special Olympics. Labuda also partnered the department and the South Brunswick School District to include special needs athletes from three different schools in a portion of the run. He received a Community Service Award.
Officer George Morgan has become deeply involved with the South Brunswick community both in an official capacity and as a volunteer for many community events. From his work raising funds for people in need to his coaching young people in basketball, he embodies community engagement. His efforts have fostered a positive relationship and partnership with the community, juveniles and numerous other organizations. He received a Community Service Award.
Public Safety Telecommunicator (PST) John Muccioli exhibited excellent discretion and communication skills in coordinating a rapidly evolving foot pursuit of a robbery suspect on Oct. 11. With little warning, detectives broadcasted that they were in a foot pursuit of a robbery suspect. Muccioli was able to provide precise and vital information, which greatly aided in the coordination for responding patrol units. His efforts helped lead to the capture of the robbery suspect. He received a Letter of Commendation.
Beginning in June 2019, Detective Timothy Hoover led an investigation involving the distribution of controlled dangerous substances. He coordinated efforts with other agencies. The operation was dynamic and Hoover handled all avenues of the investigation with excellence. A large quantity of drugs were taken off the street. The efforts of Hoover showed initiative, professionalism and quick thinking. He received a Letter of Commendation.
Officer Brooke Labell, as a member of the department’s crime scene evidence technician program, was assigned to process a burglary scene at a residence on Sept. 24. Labell’s detailed crime scene processing led to the recovery of latent fingerprints from the point of entry. The New Jersey State Police lab linked the latent fingerprints to a suspect who was later arrested. She received a Letter of Commendation.
Officer Matthew Hagood responded to a report of a teen being dehydrated and lost in a heavily wooded area. Hagood located the juvenile who was stuck in the mud up to his knees. The juvenile was assisted out of the mud and provided with medical attention. Hagood’s actions led to the safely locating the juvenile. He received a Letter of Commendation.
Civilian Awards represent citizens whose efforts over the past year helped the South Brunswick Police Department.
Citizens Appreciation Award: Fazil Syed
Fazil Syed observed a Nixle message during the late evening hours of Feb. 19 alerting his neighborhood about a missing 10-year-old nonverbal autistic child. Syed left his home and began to search his neighborhood. Syed quickly located the child and alerted the police. The child had been outside in the cold for several hours. Syed’s selfless act resulted in the child being safely reunited with his family.
Civilian Staff Recognition Award: Caryl Greenberg
For more than 13 years, Caryl Greenberg worked hand in hand with the police department in helping members of the community while serving as a social worker. She proved to be an invaluable resource and problem solver for officers. Caryl’s service and leadership has been vital to the success of the South Brunswick Police Department.
Chief’s Safety Award: Mildred Torres – Domestic Violence Response Team
Mildred Torres is awarded the Chief’s Safety Award for assisting victims of domestic violence in South Brunswick for over 10 years. The Domestic Violence Response Team has proven to be an effective tool to support victims in breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Torres’s service and leadership has been vital to the success of the Domestic Violence Response Team’s partnership with the South Brunswick Police Department.
Chief’s Safety Award: Christine Caputo-Raddatz
Christine Caputo-Raddatz is awarded the Chief’s Safety Award for protecting the children of South Brunswick day in and day out by serving as a crossing guard for over 10 years.
Citizens Appreciation Award : Francis White and Francis White Jr.
Francis White and Francis White Jr. observed a male stabbing himself in the chest with a knife on Dec. 10. Both men wrestled the knife away from the male. White Sr. provided lifesaving care and directed officers to his location. The efforts saved the man’s life.