CRANFORD - On Thursday, May 16, 2019 the Cranford Police Department held its awards ceremony. Below are short summaries of the incidents related to the commendations received by the officers.

Patrolman Gregory Federici

On February 28th, 2017 Officer Gregory Federici was on patrol when he observed a gray Chrysler in the area of Centennial Avenue and Cayuga Road being driven in an erratic manner. Officer Federici conducted a motor vehicle stop. A search of the vehicle was conducted and produced the following: a pound of marijuana, three zip lock bags of MDMA, 25 pills of oxycodone, 10 ecstasy pills, 11 bags of crack cocaine, a scale, and $4000 in cash. The driver was arrested and subsequently detained at the Union County Jail. The estimated street value of the narcotics was $6,000 which were destined to for sale on the street.

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Sergeant Thomas Stiansen & Patrolman Gregory Federici

On May 3, 2017 Central Communications received a call reporting an active fire at Cranford Health and Extended Care. Officer Federici and Sergeant Stiansen were first to arrive on scene at which time they observed smoke billowing from the window of one of the rooms. As they made their way toward the building, they could hear screams coming from occupants of one of the units. Sergeant Stiansen and Officer Federici immediately broke the window to an adjacent room, made entry, and evacuated the residents. An additional twelve patients were evacuated from the structure by responding patrol units so the Cranford Fire Department could fight the fire. It was determined that the fire had started from a heating and air conditioning unit in one of the rooms. Stiansen and Federici have also been honored with the prestigious 200 Club Valor Award for their actions during this incident.

Patrolman Timothy Handy

On May 21, 2017 Officer Timothy Handy was on patrol in the area of the Homewood Suites Hotel when he observed a Gray Chevy operating recklessly through the parking lot. Upon stopping the motor vehicle, he observed the rear seat passenger frantically moving around in attempt to conceal an item. A search of the vehicle revealed a loaded 9mm handgun concealed between the rear seat. Three occupants of the vehicle were arrested and charged with weapons and narcotics offenses. Officer Handy potentially averted the commission of a violent crime stemming from this incident.

Patrolman Michael O’Neil

On November 5, 2017 Officer Michael O’Neil was patrolling the area of Raritan Road when he observed numerous equipment violation on a Ford Explorer. Officer O’Neil effectuated a motor vehicle stop and as the vehicle pulled to the side of the road an occupant immediately exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot. With a potentially dangerous motor vehicle stop unfolding and being at the edge of town Officer O’Neil ordered the remaining occupants to place their hands out the window until additional units arrived on scene. Officer O’Neil continued to transmit clear concise radio transmissions describing the fleeing actor all while maintaining control of the three remaining occupants. Once additional units arrived on scene, the occupants of the vehicle were removed, and a search of the vehicle was conducted. Recovered from inside the vehicle were two loaded handguns with hollow point bullets, marijuana, and a credit card scanner. Furthermore, Linden Police Department units who arrived on scene to assist, informed Cranford Police units that the occupants were currently suspects in a string of armed robberies specifically targeting gas stations. All three were arrested and charged with weapons and narcotics offenses. Days later Cranford Police Department Detectives were able to identify and apprehend the fourth suspect that fled the scene.

Patrolman Nelson Hearns, Jr. & Detective Christopher DiFabio

On December 10, 2017 Irvington Police Department was in pursuit of a white van southbound on the Garden State Parkway. The vehicle was wanted in connection with a carjacking, kidnapping, and multiple robberies in Essex and Union Counties. Irvington Police lost the vehicle in the area of the GSP 137 Exit. Clark Police Department advised that the vehicle was last seen in their town northbound on Walnut Avenue. Simultaneously, residents of Pershing Avenue began calling 911 to report a suspicious white van parked in the driveway of a Pershing Avenue home. Officer Hearns responded and as he exited his vehicle the van reversed nearly striking him. As this was occurring Detective DiFabio was arriving on scene and observed the events unfolding. Difabio could see that Hearns was uninjured and engaged in a motor vehicle pursuit through five Municipalities. The suspect clearly disregarded human life, and one point took an evasive maneuver which disabled Officer DiFabio’s radio car. Hearns along with Clark Police units were able to apprehend the suspect after he crashed his vehicle in an industrial area of Linden. The suspect was charged with a multitude of charges stemming from this pursuit along with charges of carjacking and kidnapping in Irvington.

Detective Sergeant John Swandrak and Patrolmen Michael O’Neil, Gregory Federici, Brian Trotter, & James Knight

On December 29, 2017 Patrol Units responded to a Preston Avenue address to conduct a welfare check of the female resident. A third-party caller reported that the occupant of the residence was possibly being held against her will by her estranged ex-boyfriend. Upon arriving on scene, Federici and O’Neil were confronted by an irrational male screaming at the officers through a locked door. At this point, Sergeant Swandrak was summoned to the scene and attempted to calm the male down. The male refused to exit the residence and could be heard telling the female resident exactly what to say to the on-scene police units. As the negotiations continued officers determined that the male had barricaded himself inside the residence by pushing a sofa against the door. After negotiations had failed and fearing for the safety of the female resident, Sergeant Swandrak made the decision to force entry into the residence. All units tactically entered the residence where they were confronted by the male who was now armed with a large butcher knife. Although deadly force would have been justified, units were able to subdue the suspect by utilizing OC Spray. Once the scene was secure they provided medical attention to the female who stated that she was assaulted and held captive by the male who had threatened her with the butcher knife. The male was ultimately charged with a multitude of criminal offenses including kidnapping and weapons related offenses.

Detective Robert Jordan

On February 16, 2018 Detective Jordan was on routine patrol in the area of North Avenue and Carpenter Place. Jordan stopped a Pontiac for equipment and moving violations. During his investigation, Jordan had the occupant exit the vehicle to conduct a search of the vehicle. Located inside the vehicle was a loaded 9mm handgun. The sole occupant was taken into custody and charged with numerous weapons related offenses and remanded to the Union County Jail. The firearm was determined to be stolen out of Alabama in 2014.

Patrolman Brian Trotter

On July 14th, 2018 Officer Brian Trotter was on patrol on Raritan Road in the area of Coleman Place when he observed the occupants of a Mercedes Benz not wearing their seatbelts. Officer Trotter conducted a motor vehicle stop of this vehicle during which a subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the recovery of a loaded Glock handgun. Further investigation determined that this handgun was stolen out of Georgia. Three individuals were taken into custody and remanded to the Union County Jail. One of the individuals had an extensive Criminal History which included murder, robbery, and burglary.

Detective Derek Farbanec

On October 6 2018 at 0044 hrs. Patrol Units responded to the Industrial Park for the report of an armed robbery with a handgun. The victim was approached by two males outside his workplace and forced to turn over personal belongings with the threat of being shot. The suspects fled the area via the Garden State Parkway. Detective Farbanec responded to the scene to conduct a follow-up investigation. Within hours Detective Farbanec had developed a suspect, by utilizing surveillance footage at a nearby convenience store where the actors had used the victims credit card. That same day members of the Cranford Police Department Detective Bureau responded to a Maplewood residence where they placed one of the actors under arrest and recovered a loaded .25 caliber handgun. This actor ultimately confessed to his role in the crime and identified the second actor. Both were remanded to the Union County Jail.

Patrolmen Timothy Handy, Shayne Temple, & Joseph Sherbo

On January 1, 2019 at 2019 hrs., Patrol Units responded to a Walnut Avenue residence on a report of an unresponsive 52-year-old male. Upon arriving on scene Officers Timothy Handy and Joseph Sherbo immediately began assessing the patient. Both officers determined that the individual had no pulse and was not breathing. They immediately began life-saving measures by initiating CPR and utilizing an AED. As the exhausting initial phase of life-saving measures continued Handy and Sherbo were joined by Officer Shayne Temple and members of the Cranford First Aid Squad. While on scene, the patient received five shocks from an AED while officers continued to rotate the tiresome process of chest compressions. Just prior to being transported to an area hospital a faint pulse was detected on the patient. Over the next several days the victim remained in critical condition of the Intensive Care Unit, but doctors determined that he would make a full recovery.

Patrolman Daniel Donnerstag

On January 28, 2019 Officer Daniel Donnerstag responded to a Central Avenue address for a two-year old child who had an object lodged in his throat. Upon arriving, Officer Donnerstag was met by a frantic grandmother and neighbor who were attempting to clear the obstruction. After recognizing that the child was clearly in distress Donnerstag instinctively began life-saving measures. Donnerstag gave several back blows eventually dislodging the object. This traumatic ordeal for all parties involved took place over only a matter of minutes, but ultimately prevented a life time of grief for this family.

Patrolman Matthew Siessel

On February 14, 2019 Officer Siessel conducted a motor vehicle stop in the area of 333 E. North Avenue after he witnessed numerous motor vehicle violations. Officer Siessel conducted a search of the vehicle and located narcotics and a loaded firearm. A subsequent follow-up investigation determined that the individual claiming ownership of this illegally possessed firearms had just left Union County College and possessed the weapon while on campus.

Detective William Pietrucha

On February 22, 2019 Detective Pietrucha observed a motor vehicle operating in an erratic manner in the area of Springfield Avenue and Holly Street and conducted a motor vehicle stop. After an investigation, Detective Pietrucha began a methodical search of the vehicle which resulted in the recovery of narcotics, currency, and a loaded firearm. The subject was ultimately arrested, lodged in the Union County Jail, and charged with numerous weapons and narcotic related offenses.