The annual award ceremony for the Colonie Police Department was Thursday, May 24.
continued Heider said Belles saved his own life that day, preventing him from becoming one of the 173 police officers who died in the line of duty nationwide last year.
“There are about 170 chiefs of police offering condolences at award ceremonies. I’m proud that I’m here to offer congratulations to my people for the fact that they were able to make those quick, bold, decisive decisions to make sure that they got home safe,” said Heider.
The department also honored an officer who discovered the first meth lab in the Capital District in 20 years while responding to what seemed like a standard structure fire.
Anthony Riccitelli responded to a possible structure fire at 1080 Loudon Rd. on March 12, 2011, where he found the resident burning garbage in the backyard. Riccitelli saw the resident trying to remove a plastic garbage bag from the fire scene by throwing it into a wooded area, which caused the bag to break open and small bottles flooded out. Riccitelli called on members of the Special Investigations Unit to investigate further.
“While dispatched to the fire scene he sees the remnants of what could be — and lo and behold it wasn’t what it could be, it was — a major toxic meth lab in Colonie,” said Heider.
Riccitelli received a Command Recognition Award for his actions, along with 19 other officers. The methamphetamine lab was only the second ever located in Albany County and resulted in the recovery of 5.7 ounces of methamphetamine.
A shocking Halloween incident at Gold’s Gym in Latham made headlines and earned officers Jennifer Oliver, Matthew Overocker and Derek Breslin the Meritorious Service Award.
“They were called to Gold’s Gym for a suspicious individual acting strangely. No one in this room could have ever predicted what they would have encountered when they went there,” said Heider.