Awe-inspiring stories of kindness, courage and heroism were in no short supply at last night’s Lawrence Township Council meeting as awards for Life Saving, Community Service, Commendable Service, Civilian Commendation, Police Officer of the Year, and Supervisor of the Year were given to 28 brave firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and civilians. Additionally, three new police officers (Police Officers Piotr Bystrek, Shane Hickey, and Richard Lamont) were sworn in.
Robin Gilbert received a Civilian Commendation for her assistance in the arrest of a burglary suspect. On March 8, 2016 at 12:30 a.m. Gilbert heard glass breaking and observed someone climbing through the window of Larry’s Wine & Spirits located on Brunswick Ave. She called the police which led to the suspect’s arrest four minutes later.
“You’re lucky that I didn’t go to bed early that night!” said Gilbert when Chief of Police, Mark Ubry, praised her action.
“Without her,” Chief Ubry said, “we probably wouldn’t have arrested the suspect and he would have continued to commit crimes in Lawrence.” Gilbert was instrumental, he explained, because the store’s alarm did not sound until six minutes after the time of the break-in.
Det. David Burns II, a Township police officer, was awarded a Community Service Award. From Det. Burns’ plaque, Mayor David Maffei read, “Det. Burns has instructed thousands of children in Lawrence Township in his capacity as Juvenile Officer. The children of this community have benefited from Det. Burns’ invaluable instruction in the township’s Safety Town, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), and Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) programs.” The award also honored his participation, since 1993, with the Mercer County Sunshine Foundation and his service as a volunteer firefighter for the Lawrenceville Fire Company, since 1986.
Sergeant Christopher M. Longo, a member of the Lawrence Police Department since 1999, was awarded the 2016 Supervisor of the Year award. Currently, his responsibilities include being the officer in charge of the Quakerbridge Mall Police Bureau and Shift Supervisor of the Patrol Division. Sgt. Longo said, “I couldn’t be more humbled to have been selected by my peers. I don’t think that there is any better commendation I could have gotten.”
The 2016 Officer of the Year award was awarded to Police Officer Robert E. Wagner who began working for the Township’s police department in 1995 as a Communications Operator and became a Police Officer in the Patrol Division in 2000. After receiving his award, Wagner thanked his colleagues and the many past and present mentors and supervisors, most of whom were present in the packed meeting room, for their support over the years.
Wagner said, “I always took the approach in law enforcement to go the extra mile. Go out and meet people, shake hands, and be friendly. In this day and age, law enforcement isn’t always that friendly and we have a negative eye most of the time.”
His wife Samantha, eleven-year-old sons Dylan and Tyler, and mother Bonnie, beamed with pride. “I remember the day he was sworn in. I’m so proud of him.” said Bonnie.
When asked what Tyler thought of his Dad receiving the award, he said, “He really deserves it because he’s saved a lot of lives. I want to be a cop too when I’m older.”
The complete list of awards and awardees is as follows:
Commendable Service: Off. Jose Corado, Off. Ryan Dunn, Sgt. Richard Laird, Off. Dylan McClister, Det. Joseph Radlinsky, Off. James Steimle, and Sgt. Scott Stein.
Life Saving Awards: Off. Lauren Laux, Ret. Off. Robert Loveless, and Off. Marc Poveromo.
Community Service Awards: Det. David Burns II and Jennifer Thomas, Secretary.
Civilian Commendation Awards: EMT Duncan Williams, EMT David Zavacky, Firefighter Shaun Dlabik, Firefighter Mark Lenarski Jr., Firefighter Dan Tomalin, Paramedic Christen Cosulich, Paramedic Patrick Sorrells, Mr. Adam Abel, Ms. Jenna Comiski, Ms. Robin Gilbert, Mr. Randi Makhoul, Mr. Connor Saalfrank, Ms. Debra Stevens, and Mr. James G. Townsend.