The heroic and selfless acts of several Manchester Township Police officers were recognized on Wednesday, December 9, during the Annual Departmental Awards Ceremony held in the Municipal Complex Courtroom.
“There were many commendable and courageous acts that occurred during 2015, but only the awards presented today fit the criteria for the high standards set by the awards general order,” said Chief Lisa Parker. Among those in attendance were the officers’ families, Mayor Kenneth Palmer, Councilmen James Vaccaro, Samuel Fusaro, Craig Wallis, Charles Frattini, and Business Administrator Donna Markulic. Police Chaplain James Davis gave the invocation, and Mayor Palmer offered closing remarks.
“As a resident, and as the Mayor, it’s really a great feeling knowing that when a situation arises, we know that you guys can handle it professionally and effectively, and on behalf of the Township Council and residents, thank you very much,” Mayor Palmer said.
The Chief’s Award was given to Ptl. Christopher Walaszek and Ptl. Christopher Cerullo. Ptl. Walaszek has been instrumental in coordinating the installation of a shoot house for the Police Firing Range, as well as procuring a diesel generator for the project through the Law Enforcement Support Office at no cost to the Township. Serving as the Township’s School Resource Officer, Ptl. Cerullo has formed strong bonds with students and school administrators, in addition to organizing the successful “Bully vs. The Badge” charity wrestling match and the inaugural Manchester Township Youth Police Academy.
Patrolmen Charles Gatnarek, Michael O’Hara and Patrick Mabie were honored with the Meritorious Service Award for peacefully resolving a dangerous situation with a knife-wielding suicidal male. Ptl. O’Hara was also given the Croix De Negotiators Laurel Award for the same incident, for utilizing his communications skills to convince the armed subject to drop his weapon.
A Life Saving Award was given to Patrolmen John Decker and Steve Hankins for their successful save of a 78-year-old unresponsive woman by performing CPR measures until she could be transported to the hospital by paramedics. Patrolmen Ryan Saul, Joseph Fastige, and Adam Carey also received the award for saving the life of a 61-year-old choking victim. Mrs. Ann Scott, the victim’s 91-year-old mother and a retired nurse, received the Civilian Service Award for performing CPR until officers arrived. In both incidents, the victims went on to make full recoveries.
Lt. Col. William Malast (Ret. NJSP) was awarded a Plaque of Appreciation for his invaluable assistance in developing, implementing and coordinating Cpl. Scott Thompson’s funeral detail. Lt. Col. Malast directed State, County, and Local law enforcement agencies over a two day period, allowing the Manchester Township Police and the Thompson family the opportunity to honor and grieve their fallen brother officer. A second Plaque of Appreciation was awarded to Dsg. Joseph Howell (Ret. MPD) for coordinating the donation of an Automated External Defibrillator for the police gym in memory of Cpl. Thompson.
Resident John McGuire was awarded a Letter of Appreciation for his decades of volunteer service to Manchester Township’s residents, students and police officers. Mr. McGuire assists with the Police Unity Tour, Dinner with Santa, and PBA Golf Outing, among other events.
The ceremony closed with Ptl. Keith Craig’s memorial video montage dedicated to Cpl. Thompson, whose service to the Manchester Township Police was also memorialized in a commemorative photo book distributed at the event. Chief Parker said, “Like the Tobias family who remains active with the department 30 years after Ptl. Robert Tobias’ on duty death, Cpl. Thompson and his family will always be remembered.”
Others Honored were:
Distinguished Firearms Expert: Ptl. Matthew Walaszek
Ocean County Regional SWAT: Ptl. Joseph Reilly, Ptl. Matthew Walaszek, Ptl. Michael Steffen
Narcotics Enforcement Team: Sgt. James Komsa, Ptl. Peter Manco, Ptl. Steven Wendruff, Ptl. Christian Nazario
Investigations Bureau: Det. David Fusaro, Det. Robert Maccaquano
Traffic Safety: Ptl. Michael Anderson
K-9 Ptl. Marc Micciulla, Ptl. Steven Wendruff
Field Training Officer: Ptl. Jason Wiener, Ptl. Joseph Fastige