South Brunswick police, PSTs, citizens recognized for actions that saved lives, solved cases


SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The South Brunswick Police Department recently held its annual award ceremony. The in-person ceremony was the first in three years due to the pandemic and recognized officers’ actions from the past year, as well as citizen actions from the past three years.

“These awards recognize some of the best in our department and community,” said Chief Raymond Hayducka.

The awards highlight lifesaving efforts, great investigative work, and citizens who stepped up to make a difference. In order to receive an award, a case must be submitted to a committee of officers who review all the reports, videos, and materials connected to the incident. The committee then submits a report to the chief who gives final approval.

“The awards let our officers know the excellence that we see in them every day. It also recognizes our community members who step up in times of crises to help out,” Hayducka said.

Exceptional Service Award: Officer Tom Spilatore and Officer Raymond McCarthy

On March 3, 2021, officers responded to a dispute at a hotel. McCarthy arrived at the
hotel and observed an agitated man enter an elevator and refuse instructions to exit the elevator.

Hotel employees advised the dispute was on the second floor and that man who entered the elevator was headed in that direction.

McCarthy joined by Spilatore arrived on the second floor and observed the man from the elevator now in the hallway armed with a knife trying to get into a room. The officers gave orders to drop the knife and used de-escalation techniques. After several minutes the man dropped the knife and complied with officers’ instructions. Their efforts to defuse a volatile situation using “time, distance, and an empathetic tone” resolved a dangerous situation.

Exceptional Service Award: Detective Rick DeLucia

On May 28, 2021, DeLucia was off duty when he observed a vehicle that he believed
matched an alert put out by North Brunswick Police. The vehicle was wanted for a shooting in North Brunswick. DeLucia copied the vehicle information and notified North
Brunswick Police. That information ultimately led to the identification of the shooter and the seizure of several weapons.

DeLucia demonstrated “excellent investigative skills and coordination with other law enforcement agencies.”

Life Saving Medal: Lt. Roger Tuohy, Officer Ryan Bartunek, and PST (Public Safety Telecommunicator) Christine McCarthy

On July 10, 2021, officers responded to a report of a male who had fallen into a pool, was pulled out by a family member and unresponsive. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) instructions were delivered to the family member by PST McCarthy during the response.

The officer’s quick response and teamwork allowed them to properly administer CPR and life saving measures. The individual was transported to the hospital made a full recovery.

Their actions saved his life.

Life Saving Medal: Officer Brooke LaBell

On Dec. 15, 2021, LaBell responded to a report of a child that choked on a ball,
became unresponsive and was not breathing. Upon arrival, LaBell observed the mother
conducting CPR on the child, sitting up inside a vehicle. Officer LaBell then took the child from the mother, placed the child on a flat surface and continued life saving measures. The child regained a pulse but had labored breathing and was transported to the hospital. The child later made a full recovery. LaBell’s quick actions saved the child’s life.

Citizens Appreciation Award: Francis White and Francis White Jr.

On Dec. 10, 2019, White and White Jr. observed a suicidal male who was actively stabbing himself. Both men wrestled the knife away from the suicidal male. White provided care and directed officers to his location. The efforts of both men supported the officers, prevented further serious injury and assisted in saving the man’s life.

Citizens Appreciation Award: Fazil Syed

On Feb. 19, 2020, Syed observed a Nixle report during the late evening hours alerting his neighborhood about a missing 10-year-old nonverbal autistic child. Syed immediately left his home and began to search his neighborhood. Syed quickly located the child hiding under a tree. He immediately alerted 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.

Citizens Appreciation Award: Peter P. Mohammed

On Sept. 30, 2020, Mohammed put himself in harm’s way to protect the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian that occurred on Route 1 north. Mohammed utilized his vehicle to block both lanes of travel on Route 1 north to prevent additional vehicles from striking the pedestrian.

Citizens Appreciation Award: Kingston Firefighters Edward A. Chabak and Ryan E. Verney

On Nov. 26, 2021, Chabak and Verney, who were on duty, stopped at the ShopRite on Route 1. A woman ran out of the store yelling that someone had just stolen her purse inside the store and was running away. The two firefighters quickly acted to catch the suspect and notified police dispatch. Chabak and Verney detained the man until police officers arrived. The man was later determined to have special needs and listed as a missing endangered person.

Chabak and Verney’s actions led to the recovery of the stolen purse and finding the missing person.

Chief’s Safety Award: Mildred Torres – Domestic Violence Response Team

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’ service and leadership has been vital to the success of the Domestic Violence Response Team’s partnership with the South Brunswick Police Department.

Letter of Commendation: Detective Timothy Hoover

In January, 2021, Hoover coordinated with several law enforcement agencies on a multi-state motor vehicle burglar team called “Felony Lane Gang.” The suspects allegedly used stolen credit cards and checks taken from car burglaries. Hoover interviewed and obtained
a confession from the actor and linked the crew to locations throughout New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Letter of Commendation: Officer Bruce Redfield and Officer Tyler Harpster

On March 28, 2021 at 12:45 a.m., Redfield and Harpster were dispatched to a suicidal man in a vehicle in a parking lot on Route 1. Dispatch advised the officers that the man was actively cutting himself inside of his vehicle. The officers located the vehicle and spoke with the male who had self-inflicted injuries. They were able to remove the knife and rendered first aid. The male injuries resulted in heavy blood loss. The male was transported to the hospital without incident. Their quick response and actions averted a tragedy.

Letter of Commendation: Officer Bruce Redfield, Officer Brian Kim, and Officer Tyler Harpster

On May 5, 2021, Redfield, Kim, and Harpster responded to the Holiday Inn parking lot to search for a missing suicidal male. Hamilton Police called to report that a male was on the phone threatening to kill himself and/or commit suicide by cop. The officers located the male in his vehicle, made a tactical approach and removed the subject from with vehicle. A knife was recovered from the passenger seat.

The quick actions and teamwork used by these officers helped a dangerous and volatile situation come to a peaceful and successful conclusion.

Letter of Commendation: Detective Brady Shelcusky

On Aug. 29, 2021, Shelcusky investigated an armed carjacking during which a shot was fired in the La Mirage Hotel parking lot. Shelcusky conducted a detailed investigation, obtained evidence and quickly identified the suspect. Shelcusky learned the suspect was wanted by the New York Police Department in connection to a homicide. Shelcusky worked with the United States Marshalls Fugitive Task Force to track the suspect down. The suspect was charged with carjacking and numerous weapons offenses. Schelcusky’s thoroughness and excellent investigation took a violent criminal off the streets.

Letter of Commendation: PSTs Steve Kanca, Jackie Siemon, Christine McCarthy, Bruce Feldman, and Julie Trammell

On Sept. 1, 2021, the township suffered historic widespread flash flooding as a result of Hurricane Ida. The flash flooding stranded dozens of motorists, closed down major highways, and required numerous water rescues. There were over 400 calls handled by dispatchers in five hours during the storm.

Kanca, Siemon, McCarthy, Feldman and Trammel effectively handled the heavy call volumes for roadway hazards, flooding, motor vehicle crashes/assists and water rescues. Their ability to coordinate responses and work as a team exemplified the best of our department.

Letter of Commendation: Detective Rick DeLucia

In October 2020, DeLucia investigated several motor vehicle burglaries. After several months of investigating, he was able to identify two suspects. Delucia was able to develop evidence to link the suspects to 35 separate motor vehicle burglaries in the town. The
investigation linked the suspects to an additional 1,000 motor vehicle burglaries throughout the state and Pennsylvania. The networking with other law enforcement and investigative perseverance with these cases by DeLucia led to them being solved.

Letter of Commendation: Sgt. Richard Hutchison

On July 22, 2021, while serving in patrol, Hutchison supervised a dispute call that led to the uncovering of a shoplifting operation. Hutchison provided instruction and direction that resulted in the arrest of the actor. The case resulted in the recovery of numerous stolen items.

Letter of Commendation: Sgt. George Vit

Throughout 2021, Vit showed exemplary effort by implementing the department’s Body Warn Camera program. This included the creation and development of the policy, implementing solutions, applying for grant funding, training users and continuous maintenance of the system and equipment.

Exceptional Service Award: Lt. Eric Buraszeski

Buraszeski instructed numerous officers from multiple agencies in ABLE Training throughout Middlesex County. The training focused on giving officers tools to successfully intervene to prevent harm and to create a law enforcement culture that supports peer intervention. Buraszeski’s instruction had a positive impact on numerous officers.

Exceptional Service Award: Officer Jarrid Harpster

Harpster instructed numerous officers from multiple agencies in ICAT Training throughout Middlesex County. The training focused on providing officers with the tools, skills, and options they need to successfully and safely defuse a vast range of critical incidents. Harpster’s instruction had a positive impact on numerous officers.

Education Award

For earning a master’s degree from Seton Hall University: Lt. John Penney, Officer Brian Luck and Officer Daniel Martinez

For earning a master’s degree from Thomas Edison State University: PST Renee Messina