Photos submitted by CPD
COLONIE – The police department gave out their annual awards on Thursday, May 5. Photos of the winners were submitted by the CPD. The awardees and their achievements are below the gallery.
Ryan Laughlin, Kathleen Hale, William Gardner & NYS Assemblyman John McDonald
On Wednesday Jan. 4, at approximately 6:10 a.m., a 50-year old female who was working out at a local gym collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Ryan Laughlin, a gym employee, immediately called 911 and began checking the woman’s vital signs. Kathleen Hale, a nursing student and William Gardner a Town Paramedic, went to the victim’s aid and began CPR with Laughlin. Assemblyman John McDonald, who was also at the gym, retrieved the gym’s AED. The AED was applied and the victim received two shocks in an effort to get her to breathe on her own. After the shocks, the rescuers continued CPR until EMS arrived on scene. Due to the quick actions and efforts of these four individuals, the victim survived her cardiac incident and is alive today. For their actions, they are awarded the Colonie Police Department Civilian Award.
Officer Ardit Potka
On July 29, 2016 at 9:40 p.m. Officer Potka performed a traffic stop for a vehicle and traffic violation. Upon interviewing the driver, an odor of marihuana was detected. When backup arrived, Potka interviewed both occupants and conducted a search which uncovered a loaded .45 caliber handgun. As a result of Potka’s proactive policing and keen observation skills, two felons were arrested for possessing an illegal firearm. For his actions he is awarded the Command Recognition award.
Officer Kyle Keane
On March 22, at 3:47 p.m. Officer Keane performed a traffic stop for a vehicle and traffic violation. While interviewing the driver, Keane learned that he was operating with a suspended license. A continued search and investigation revealed that the driver was in possession of 16 bags of crack cocaine packaged for sale and a loaded illegally possessed .22 caliber revolver. Keane’s proactive policing resulted in an armed drug dealer being taken off of the streets. For his actions he is awarded the Command Recognition award.
Officer Matthew Garrigan
On May 14, Officer Garrigan observed two men in a vehicle in a motel parking lot. As Garrigan continued to watch them, he observed what he believed to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction. The passenger eventually exited the vehicle and the driver drove out of the lot. Garrigan initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle and found the driver was in possession of heroin that he had just purchased from the observed passenger. After backup arrived, Garrigan went back to the motel and located the dealer in his motel room. An investigation into the drug dealer uncovered over 12 grams of heroin and $2,600 in drug proceeds. Garrigan’s proactive police work resulted in the arrest of a drug dealer operating in the town, dangerous drugs being taken off of the street and the seizure of $2,600. For his actions he is awarded the Command Recognition award.
Officer John Rockwell
On April 27 at 12:42 a.m., Officer Rockwell initiated a traffic stop for a vehicle and traffic violation. Rockwell detected an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle that held five occupants. Further investigation and search uncovered over 80 grams of marijuana, heroin and a loaded 9 mm handgun. Rockwell’s keen observation skills and dedication to proactive policing resulted in the arrest of all five occupants with felony charges. For his actions he is awarded the Command Recognition award.
Dispatcher Neil Blanchard
While Dispatcher Blanchard was working his shift in communications on Dec. 15, 2015, he handled a call that involved an armed robbery with a handgun. A description of the suspect’s vehicle was given to the patrol units but neither the suspect nor the vehicle were located. on his way home following his shift, Blanchard observed the suspect’s vehicle in the lot of a local business. He confirmed the license plate and called the police department to inform patrol officers of the vehicle’s location. Blanchard continued to watch the vehicle until officers arrived. As a result of Blanchard’s keen observation, responding officers were able to locate both robbery suspects. The subsequent investigation into their actions revealed that they had committed nearly 100 robberies in the Capital District. Both suspects were charged and sentenced to state prison for these robberies. For his actions Blanchard is awarded the Command Recognition award.
Lt. Robert Winn, Det. Sgt, daniel Belles, Sgt. John Santorio, Sgt. Daniel Grebert and Investigators Kevin Terry, Aaron Malinoski and Christopher R. Smith
On Aug. 21, 2015 a barber, Jacquelyn Porecca, working alone in her salon, was brutally murdered during what appeared to be a robbery. This crime captured the attention of the entire Capital District. The award recipients before you worked tirelessly throughout the next four months and investigated over 300 leads. One of those leads led to the murderer and his accomplice. On Nov. 10, 2015, 23-year-old Michael Chmielewski and 32-year-old Sean Moreland were charged with homicide. Moreland who was the getaway driver pled guilty to hindering prosecution and received two to six years which will run concurrent with an eight-year term for an unrelated burglary charge. Chmielewski pled guilty to first degree murder and received more than 20 years in state prison. Many people deserve praise for their work on this homicide investigation, with almost a third of the entire Colonie Police Department contributing significantly. Additionally, the police department received special assistance from Mark Malinoski, the Director of Division of Operations for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Malinoski coordinated the draining of the Washington Park Lake in the City Albany which allowed investigators to recover critical physical evidence. Winn, Belles, Santorio, Grebert and investigators Malinoski and Smith are awarded the Command Recognition award for their tireless efforts during this investigation.
Officers Robert Lemerise, Ryan Berkery and Edward Cronin
On June 14 2016 at 3 a.m., Officers Berkery, Lemerise and Cronin were dispatched to a personal injury accident at the Colonie Terrace Apartments on Central Avenue. A 72-year-old male, while suffering from the onset of a medical issue, accelerated his vehicle through the exterior wall on an apartment into the bedroom of a sleeping resident. The vehicle pinned the resident between the mattress and an interior wall of the apartment. Berkery, Cronin and Lemerise quickly devised a plan to extricate the driver of the vehicle and the entrapped resident from the now unsound structure. Manually breaking through interior walls the officers were able to free the two victims and turn them over to Colonie EMS for treatment. The selfless manner in which these three officers handled this dangerous and unique situation ensured that both victims survived. For their actions they are awarded the Command Recognition award.
Officer Frank Peris and Edward Cronin
Just before midnight on Nov. 26, 2016 Officers Cronin and Peris were riding as partners and made a traffic stop for vehicle and traffic violations. The officers immediately detected an odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle and began to interview its two occupants. With back-up officers now on the scene Cronin and Peris began searching the vehicle. During the search the officers located a loaded 9 mm handgun as well as several small bags of marijuana. During the subsequent interview of the occupants, it was learned that they were gang members who were in route to confront their rivals. Cronin and Peris’ proactive police work and excellent interview skills resulted in a felony arrest for criminal possession of a weapon and prevented a significant violent event from ever occurring. For their actions they are awarded the Command Recognition award.
Officers Chris A. Smith, Eric Montijo and Frank Peris
On Feb. 23, at approximately 11:45 p.m. the Colonie Police Department received a call for an audible alarm at the Latham Village Apartments. Upon arrival, Officers Peris and Smith observed flames coming from a second floor window and heard a woman scream. Peris and Smith immediately forced entry into the apartment and observed a female run into the bathroom of the smoke filled apartment. Montijo arrived with a fire extinguisher in hand and located the fire in the kitchen. While Montijo fought the fire, Peris and Smith determined that the woman had locked herself in the bathroom. Peris and Smith forced entry through the bathroom door and restrained the woman for her own safety. They then removed her from the apartment. The woman was eventually determined to be an emotionally disturbed person who had intentionally set fire to her own apartment. Smith, Peris and Montijo exhibited exemplary bravery and dedication to duty. Their actions undoubtedly prevented a tragic event from happening and for their actions they are awarded the Command Recognition award.
Investigator Jay Gerace
In July of 2016, Investigator Gerace began investigating a complaint of a forged check that was cashed at a bank in the Town of Colonie. Through his investigation, Gerace learned the identity of the two men who passed the check and determined that there was a connection between these two suspects and the bank teller who approved the transaction. After extensive interviews with all three subjects, Gerace determined that there were five others involved in this forgery scheme and that multiple financial locations had been victimized throughout the Capital District. As a result of his investigation, and with the cooperation of surrounding agencies, Investigator Gerace orchestrated a widespread takedown of an organized forgery ring that targeted financial institutions in the Town of Colonie, Town of Rotterdam, City of Schenectady and City of Albany. For his actions he is awarded the Command Recognition award.
Investigators Jeff Lockart and Paul VanAlstyne
In 2015 Investigators Lockart and VanAlstyne began investigating an allegation of a 41-year-old male endangering the welfare of a 13-year-old female. The investigators learned that the male suspect had been the focus of a previous more serious allegation made by another female. While investigating the earlier case, Lockart and VanAlstyne learned that the older male suspect had raped this female regularly while she was between the ages of 15 and 18. As a result of their investigation, Lockart and VanAlstyne built a case that resulted in the suspect being charged with two counts of rape first, one count of rape third and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. The case was so strong that the jury found the defendant guilty after just 20 minutes of deliberation. The defendant was sentenced to 26 years in state prison followed by 15 years of post-release supervision. For their actions in this case, Lockart and VanAlstyne are awarded the Command Recognition award.
Sgt. Tom Breslin, Officer Patrick Murphy, Officer Javier Martinez and Officer Janel Lawrence
On Feb. 8, 2016 at 6:50 p.m. officers Murphy, Lawrence and Martinez were dispatched to a residence for an intoxicated despondent man who had locked himself in his house and was threatening to charge at responding officers with knives. Upon arrival the man was belligerent and could be observed inside the residence holding two large kitchen knives. Sergeant Breslin arrived on scene and organized containment along with an area to negotiate from. Breslin also put in place less lethal options to take the man into custody should he exit the dwelling and charge at the officers. Murphy negotiated with the irate man for over an hour. As negotiations continued, the man exited his house holding two knives in his hands with two more knives tucked into his waistband. Murphy convinced the man to drop the knives he was holding but the man continued to walk aggressively towards the officers with the two knives in his waist band. Following Breslin’s pre-established plan, Martinez deployed less lethal rounds in an effort to gain compliance. The subject continued to come forward at which time Breslin deployed a taser which allowed officers to take the subject in to custody. Because of the leadership of Breslin and combined efforts of Murphy, Martinez and Lawrence, a potentially lethal situation was resolved efficiently and in a manner that resulted in the man receiving the psychological treatment that he needed. For their actions they are awarded the Command Recognition award.
Life Saving: Officers Anthony Sidoti and Javier Martinez
On Sept. 19, 2016 Officers Anthony Sidoti and Javier Martinez responded to a medical call involving a 6-year-old boy. Upon arrival, the officers located the boy on the floor of this residence unconscious and not breathing. EMS was still enroute to the scene so the officers immediately began CPR. EMS arrived on scene and continued CPR with the Officers. As a result of their quick actions the boy regained a pulse, was transported to a local hospital and made a full recovery. For their actions they are awarded the Life Saving Award.
Life Saving: Sgt. john Santorio and retired Officer Robert Laliberte
On Aug. 8, 2016 at 1 p.m. Sergeant Santorio and Officer Laliberte responded to a local business for a 53-year-old man who is in cardiac arrest. Santorio and Laliberte performed CPR that resulted in the patient regaining his pulse and breathing on his own. As a result of their quick and effective use of CPR the subject’s life was saved. For their actions they are both awarded the Life Saving Award.
Life Saving: Officers Daniel Franklin and Amanda Paris
On April 8, Officers Franklin and Paris were dispatched to a medical call. Upon arrival the officers located a 48-year-old man in cardiac arrest. Officers immediately started CPR while they attached their AED. Franklin and Paris then administered one shock from the AED and then continued CPR. As the officers continued CPR, EMS arrived and transported the victim to the hospital for emergency surgery to remove a blood clot. Franklin and Paris’ life saving measures resulted in the victim receiving the emergency surgery that he needed. For their actions they are the recipients of the Life Saving Award.
Career Achievement: Victims Specialist Patrice Lockart
Patrice “Patty” Schwarz Lockart worked tirelessly for the Colonie Police Department, the residents of Colonie and the Capital District for the last 34 years. From her original title as youth referral aide to her most recent position as victim services specialist, her body of work represents her dedication to serving those that need our help the most; victims of violent crime and sexual assault, seniors, juveniles, and may others that often slip through the system’s cracks.
Last week she started her well-earned retirement after serving the Colonie Police Department for 34 years. Lockart is a lifelong resident of the Village of Colonie and also serves as an Albany County Legislator and a Colonie Village trustee. She currently serves on or has served on many committees and boards such as; Albany County Child Advocacy Center Policy and Planning Committee, the Multidisciplinary Team for Investigations and Prosecutions of Child Sexual Abuse, the Town of Colonie Senior Network Advisory Board, and the state Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. Patty also served as a consultant to the United States Department of Justice, is a past speaker for the National Youth Court Center and conducts training and speaks on issues related to sexual assault investigations and victimization as well as elder abuse. As a founder and current Advisory Board Member of the Colonie Youth Court, Patty helped develop and implement the very successful and cost-effective program that has become a statewide model and has garnered national and international attention. Patty has been the recipient of several recognitions, most notably the U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Attorney’s Office Spirit of Justice Award and from the Colonie Police Benevolent Association for her work with and dedication to the community.
We are pleased to recognize her tonight with this Career Recognition Award.
Esposito-Russo memorial award: Investigator Neil Leach
On Oct. 13, 1989 at 8:30 p.m. a crash occurred on Central Avenue that was caused by an intoxicated driver who was also impaired on drugs. The crash took the life of Anna’s daughter – four year old Gabriella Russo and her five year old nephew, Nicholas Esposito.
The crash had a profound and lasting effect on the members of the Traffic Division that investigated the tragic incident. For the past 24 years, the department has remembered Gabriella and Nicholas annually by honoring the police officer who has had a positive impact on reducing impaired driving by their aggressive enforcement efforts. Leach is a 33-year veteran of the Colonie Police Department. For the last 27 years, Leach has been a traffic safety investigator. Over those years, Neil has made hundreds of DWI arrests.
All officers are certified to be a breath test operator while in the police academy. They must be re-certified every two years. For over 10 years, Leach was responsible for re-certifying all Colonie police officers in their “Breath Test Operator” certificate. Neil also teaches at the Zone 5 Police Academy and trains officers from all over the area in the “Breath Test Operator” course.
He has been essential in not only training Colonie Police officers on how to detect drunk drivers, but also trains officers from all over the area that attend the Zone 5 police academy.
For his outstanding contributions in the field of impaired driving enforcement for 27 years, Neil Leach is awarded the Esposito/Russo award.
Distinguished Service Award: Explorer Sergeant Marra Walter
Explorer Sgt. Walter joined the post in December of 2014. She has risen to the rank of sergeant and has won numerous first place awards at stations day which include traffic stops, handling emotionally disturbed persons, active shooter response and physical fitness. Walter completed the Explorer Academy which is based in Connecticut. In 2016, she had the most community service hours in the post and was awarded the community service award. Walter plans on studying Homeland Security and Digital Forensics at the University at Albany in the fall and is currently a dispatcher for the Village of Menands for her contributions to Explorer Post 185, Walter is the recipient of the distinguished service award.
Distinguished Service Award: Dispatcher Brian Franklin
Brian Franklin has been with the Communications Division since February 2013. Franklin has handled a multitude of events, from the routine to the large scale event that can prove taxing to all dispatch personnel everywhere. He has taken steps to further his career by taking on the task of being a trainer for new dispatchers and acting as shift leader on numerous occasions. Franklin also serves the community as a volunteer fire chief for the Village of Menands. Franklin has shown his professionalism and ability to remain calm in some of the most stressful emergency situations. He is always willing to assist his fellow employees and the public with a pleasant demeanor. On his off time Brian is a very active father and role model to his 7-year-old son. It is for all of these reasons that Franklin is the recipient of the distinguished service award.
Distinguished Service Award: Investigator Samuel Criscione
Investigator Criscione is a 14-year member of the department. In his years as a patrolman he served as a Field Training Officer and a SWAT Operator on the Special Services Team. It was at this time that he was awarded a Life Saving Award for a cardiac reversal. In 2009, Criscione was promoted to the position of investigator in the forensics unit where he currently serves the department. Criscione’s passion and knowledge of forensics has proven to be a valuable asset to the department. This passion is so strong that it has caused him to pass on promotional opportunities and transfers to other investigative units in order to continue to do what he loves. With this knowledge Criscione is called upon by the department to train new forensic investigators. Criscione also assists the State Police with the logistics for our areas forensic training school. In addition to researching, acquiring and implementing new forensic tools and techniques for the Colonie Police Department, Criscione also aids the Albany County hazmat forensics team in this area. As an ambassador to the community, Criscione regularly leads presentations at Science Days at local schools. He also presents at “career day” as well as for the Colonie Police Department Civilian Police Academy. In 2015, Investigator Criscione was promoted to the very prestigious and sought after position of Assistant Team Leader on the Special Services Team. This position is
reserved for SWAT operators who have excelled in their tactics and have demonstrated a long standing dedication to the team. Criscione instructs at local SWAT operator courses.
For the last 14 years Investigator Criscione has consistently displayed a positive attitude towards his work and colleagues. For the professionalism shown throughout his career with the Colonie Police Department, Sam Criscione is awarded this year’s Distinguished Service Award.