Honoring those in blue

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Lawrence Township recognizes 23 police officers for their heroic actions

Lawrence Township police officers were honored by the Lawrence Township Council for their actions – from saving a woman’s life who was choking to taking illegal guns off the street from criminals – at a special awards ceremony.

The annual ceremony, which recognized 23 police officers, spanned 2022 and part of 2023. It is traditionally held in May in conjunction with National Police Week, but it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six police officers were honored for their actions that took place in the first few months of 2023.

Police officers Charles Morreale, John Stever and Nigel Davis were honored for preventing a Stonerise Drive man from committing suicide by cutting his leg on New Year’s Day 2023, according to the proclamation issued by the Lawrence Township Council.

The officers discovered that the man had cut the femoral artery in his groin area. They applied direct pressure to the wound until paramedics arrived. If it had not been for the officers’ quick thinking and rapid response, the man may have succeeded in taking his life, the proclamation stated.

Similarly, Sgt. Jose Corado and officers Richard Lamont and Kamil Zander prevented a man from committing suicide who had a knife and who had taken a large quantity of Xanax pills on July 13.

When the officers arrived at the man’s Canal View Drive home, they found him with blood on his shirt. He said he did not want to live anymore and ran upstairs to the bathroom and closed the door.

The officers went to the bathroom and saw that he had a large knife in his hand. Officer Lamont jumped on top of the man to prevent him from hurting himself. Sgt. Corado and Officer Zander helped to disarm the man.

Seventeen police officers were recognized for their actions during 2022.

Police officers Dylan McClister and Richard Lamont and Detective Todd Caruso were sent to the Motel 6 to investigate a call for a man with a gun Jan. 2. They met with the victim, who said the man had displayed a gun during an argument between them, according to the proclamation.

The gunman fled the scene, but officers traced him back to a room at the Motel 6 after viewing surveillance camera footage. He had a lengthy criminal history that included weapons possession charges. After a consent search of his motel room, the officers recovered a loaded .357 magnum caliber handgun.

The three police officers received a Unit Citation award for identifying the man, who might have been able to commit other violent crimes if he had gone unidentified and undetected, the proclamation said.

Police Officer Piotr Bystrek received a Lifesaving Award for saving a woman who was choking on Jan. 26. The officer was sent to the White Pine Apartments and immediately applied the Heimlich Maneuver on the woman to dislodge the obstruction.

The woman told the police officer that she had resolved herself to the fact that she was going to die because of her obstructed airway. If it had not been Officer Bystrek’s actions, “the otherwise healthy choking victim most likely would have died from the object lodged in her throat,” the proclamation stated.

Seven police officers received a Unit Citation award for their role in capturing a burglary suspect who had been involved in two other crimes in Lawrence and additional crimes in nearby towns March 24.

Sgt. Matthew Grossi and police officers Dean Sawasky, James Gorski, Piotr Bystrek, David Kraszewski, Bayshawn Wells and Owen Cutaneo responded to a burglary in progress at a Bakers Basin Road home.

The officers were given a description of the suspect’s vehicle, which was subsequently involved in a hit-and-run crash on Brunswick Pike and Bakers Basin Road. The officers found the vehicle at the crash scene and traced the car’s owner to the Motel 6. They arrested him on charges of burglary, possession of drug paraphernalia and on an outstanding warrant.

Detective Sean Kerins and Officer James Gorski were honored for arresting two men who had been involved in a string of burglaries to U.S. Postal Service mailboxes in Lawrence Township. They were charged with burglary, theft, fraud, forgery and receiving stolen property.

During the monthlong investigation in June, Gorski located a suspect vehicle and Kerins used several investigative techniques to identify its owner. The vehicle was recovered, along with evidence of the crimes.

The proclamation stated that if the two officers had not arrested the suspects, “numerous other people would have become victims of the organized criminal enterprise and resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars.”

Detective James Steimle and his K-9 partner, Brix, were recognized for finding a missing autistic 3-year-old child on July 26. Steimle and Brix were sent to the Eggerts Crossing Village development and began tracking the child’s last known location. He was found standing in a creek and was returned to his family, unharmed.

Nine police officers were honored for arresting three people and recovering a large cache of firearms during an investigation into an incident on Aug. 24. A man reported being shot at while he was fishing on the Delaware & Raritan Canal near the Route 1 overpass.

Detectives Robert Potter, Sean Kerins, Todd Caruso, Suzanne Girard and Dean Sawasky; Sgts. Jose Corado and Ryan Dunn and officers Derek Paul and Kamil Zander worked together as a team to conduct interviews, carry out several high-risk search warrants and coordinate a tactical response with other agencies to arrest the three suspects.

“If not for the keen investigative skills, determination and sound use of training and teamwork, the suspects’ ongoing criminal activity could have continued endangering anyone that they may have come into contact with,” the proclamation said.

Police officers Piotr Bystrek, David Kraszewski, James Gorski and Mark Eggert were recognize for working together during an investigation into a rash of overnight vehicle burglaries and attempted vehicle thefts Sept. 17.

Bystrek and Kraszewski were on patrol in the Society Hill South neighborhood and detained two people who were dressed in black clothing and wearing masks near some vehicles that showed signs of being entered, the proclamation said.

During the course of the investigation, a loaded Glock .33 caliber firearm was recovered from the waistband of one of the suspects. The gun was loaded with an illegal high-capacity magazine filled with hollow point bullets.

Detective Sean Kerins was honored for tracking down an armed robber who had assaulted a man at the Quick Chek on Brunswick Avenue Nov. 9. Kerins identified a connection to Trenton street gangs and arrested the suspect.

Kerins recovered a loaded handgun and charged the suspect with aggravated assault, robbery and theft.

Detective James Steimle and Officer Shareef Hardin worked together to solve an armed robbery that occurred at the Dunkin Donuts on Princeton Avenue Nov. 27.

Hardin located video footage that led to the identification of the suspect. A search warrant was executed at the suspect’s home by Steimle, who recovered a loaded handgun that was determined to have been used in a shooting incident in Ewing Township.

The suspect was charged with robbery, theft, aggravated assault and weapons offenses.