On the evening of Thursday, May 5, the Colonie Police Department and Town Supervisor Paula Mahan honored 26 officers and two civilians at their annual awards ceremony in the Main Courtroom at the Public Safety Center on Wolf Road.
“This past year has been a year of transitions and challenges,” said Chief Jonathan Teale. “We have had many promotions, retirements, and we are on track to hire up to 20 new officers by this summer. In addition, we were also able to successfully resolve several major cases and manage new large technical projects.
“Tonight you will hear about the distinguished acts performed by officer, dispatchers and members of the community,” he said of the honorees. “These are shining examples of the dedication, bravery and professionalism of our people.”
Awards were given in the following categories:
Given to a civilian who has rendered assistance to the department, contributing to a better police-community relationship
Steven A. Adams was commended for aiding officers in the apprehension of a suspect wanted for armed robbery who had been spotted running into the woods at The Crossings of Colonie. After a long search using K-9 units and the New York State Police Aviation unit, the suspect had still not been located and officers canvassed nearby areas providing the suspect’s description. Adams called 911 from his place of business on Metro Park Road when he witnessed the suspect exit a patch of woods and units converged on the area, establishing a perimeter. Officers located the suspect and were able to take him into custody. “Due to Mr. Adams keen observation and quick actions,” said officials, “a potentially violent criminal was unable to escape and was apprehended without anyone being hurt or victimized.
Special Service Award
Awarded to a member of the force who significantly increases efficiency in administration or tactical procedures by submitting a new device or method adopted by the department
Officer Joseph Valiquette was honored for selecting and implementing a new state-of-the-art moving target firearms training system and observation tower equipped with computer control and PA system. “Colonie officers now receive the highest level of firearms training available,” said officials. “Conducting drills with moving, turning, adversarial and innocent targets will significantly increase officer proficiency.
Life Saving Award
Presented to officers who, in the line of duty, render aid “of a distinguished or unusually creditable nature” to an individual who is in immediate danger, thereby saving their life.
Deputy Chief Michael Woods & Officer Joseph Valiquette were recognized for saving the life of a 75-year-old woman at Bella Napoli on Christmas Eve, administering CPR and calling for emergency response.
Officer Michael Tarbay was recognized for saving the life of a choking 80-year-old woman in June, using his EMS training to administer the Heimlich maneuver.
Officer Joseph Fitzsimmons & Officer Michael Warner were recognized for saving the life of a Kohl’s customer in January, administering CPR and utilizing a portable defibrillator when the victim went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing.
Officer Allan Secor was recognized for saving the life of a 62-year-old man in April, utilizing a portable defibrillator to keep the man alive until EMS was able to arrive
Investigator David Mink was recognized for saving the life of a 45-year-old man who approached him during a traffic stop on Central Avenue, claimed to be having a heart attack, lost consciousness and stopped breathing; Mink revived the man using CPR while waiting for EMS to arrive.
Command Recognition Award
Presented to department members who, in the line of duty, have performed a task “in an exemplary manner thereby displaying alertness, efficiency and dedication to duty.”
Sgt. Louis DiNuzzo was recognized for “his keen observation skills and willingness to investigate suspicious activity” for interrupting a burglary in process at the former Lazare car dealership in July, when he noticed a vacant car parked alongside the building and found a ladder propped against the wall.
Officer Ardit Potka was recognized for the part he played in the March seizure of more than an ounce of heroin, more than 20 grams of cocaine and a loaded handgun following a call he responded to at a local motel, during which Potka convinced the individual to work with the police to apprehend her dealer; He was also commended for the April arrest of a wanted drug felon and the subsequent recovery of a loaded semi-automatic weapon and thousands of dollars.
Officer Javier Martinez was recognized for taking a heroin dealer off the streets in February, when he observed suspicious activity and recovered more than 100 bags of heroin as the result of subsequent investigation.
Lt. Henry Rosenzweig & Sgt. James Herbst & Officer Frank Peris were recognized for risking their own safety to aid a motorist who became trapped when her vehicle collapsed into a sinkhole on Old Niskayuna Road in February.
Officer Edward Cronin & Officer Frank Peris were recognized for their actions in October, when they observed potential drug activity in a business parking lot, stopped the suspect and ultimately recovered a loaded .22 caliber revolver and approximately two ounces of marijuana intended for sale.
Officer Eric Sperber was recognized for initiating arrests following a traffic stop last May when he discovered that the driver of the rental car was not the individual who rented it and was, in fact driving with a suspended license and that the passenger lied about her identity; Sperber found a handgun and cocaine in the vehicle and was able to determine that the renter of the vehicle was staying in a nearby hotel, where he found the individual to be in possession of cocaine, heroin and packaging materials, as well as a 15-year-old girl.
Officer Patrick Fennelly & Officer Nick Burns were recognized for the arrests of two heroin dealers in September following a traffic stop during which the officers were able build rapport with a suspect caught with three bags of heroin, leading them to two occupants of a hotel room who were in possession of 140 bags of heroin and thousands of dollars in cash.
Officer Chris A. Smith & Officer Nick Burns were recognized for recovering more than 18 grams of crack cocaine and 83 bags of heroin in April, after investigating a suspicious individual sitting in his vehicle in a motel parking lot.
Officer James Splonskowski was recognized for his role in apprehending a burglar at the Loudon Mobil Mart in February after he responded to a burglar alarm.
Investigator James Gerace was recognized for utilizing confidential informant information to uncover a countywide home improvement scam targeting the elderly; a family of five was ultimately convicted on hate crime charges as a result.
Sgt. John Santorio & Sgt. Daniel Grebert & Investigator Christopher R. Smith were recognized for their September response to information that a woman was being held against her will at a local motel and forced into prostitution; upon locating both individuals and discovering her captor to be in possession of a stun gun and semi-automatic handgun; Smith was able to gain the trust and cooperation of the victim, even going so far as to purchase new clothing and personal care items for her; Santorio and Grebert were able to secure a confession from the captor.
Sgt. John Santorio was also recognized for the February arrest of two California drug traffickers and recovery of 22 grams of methamphetamine, 12 pounds of marijuana and more than $7,000 in cash.
Investigator Stephen Donovan was recognized for his role in securing the confession and ultimate arrest of a serial pedophile and sexual predator in June.
Esposito / Russo Memorial Award
Presented to an officer who has exhibited outstanding efforts in the field of alcohol enforcement
Officer Brian Curran was commended for his ongoing efforts to combat impaired and intoxicated driving.
Distinguished Service Award
Presented annually to department members who have displayed “exceptional dedication to their profession and their department” in their interaction with their peers, superiors and the public
Explorer Sergeant Devin Jukes joined the Colonie Police Explorer Post in 2013 and rose to the rank of Sergeant within two years. According to CPD, Jukes has consistently shown a passion to learn and to help his fellow explorers and, in 2015, took first place during the annual Explorer Competitons in the areas of high stress scenarios and building searches. Jukes has earned service ribbons for CPR, Community Service and Perfect Attendance while also attending classes at HVCC. “Devin consistently goes above and beyond and demonstrates the characteristics that define a great Explorer,” said CPD officials.
Public Safety Dispatcher Anthony Discipio joined the CPD Communications Division in June 2012. Since then, said officials, he has proven his ability to handle all manner of events—from large to small—and has shown initiative in his career path. “Anthony is always willing to assist his fellow employees and the public with a pleasant demeanor,” said officials.
Sergeant Louis N. DiNuzzo is an 11-year veteran who was honored for his dedication to CPD and a positive, motivational leadership style that “puts the needs of others above his own.” DiNuzzo has proven himself invaluable to the CPD administration and is known for conducting himself with professionalism. He also wears many hats within the department: first line supervisor; tactical operator on the special services team; supervisor of the department’s bicycle unit; and police instructor. “Anyone who knows Lou know his passion for his community and running,” said CPD. “Lou has successfully promoted and honored the Colonie Police Department while running the Boston Marathon three times and competing in the World Police and Fire Games.”
“I am grateful to our officer and dispatchers for the work they do each day,” said Chief Teale. “I’m also grateful to Supervisor Mahan, the entire Town Board and the community for their continued support.”