BEDFORD, N.Y. – In the last 12 months, Bedford police officers have saved lives, delivered babies, thwarted thefts and tracked down criminals. Those officers who went above and beyond the call of duty were honored Tuesday, May 29, at the Bedford Town House, in front of friends and family.

“You’ve done a tremendous job,” said Supervisor Chris Burdick. “We’re very proud of our police force. ”

Several officers received a Life Saving Award for reviving residents who had overdosed on drugs. Two civilians were also honored with the award.

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On Aug. 3, 2017, Zulma Hayes, a retired police officer who was driving on the Saw Mill River Parkway, intervened as a young woman attempted to jump from a bridge. Hayes and the young woman’s father restrained her until police arrived.

On Nov. 4, 2017, John Jay High School student Julia D’Urso jumped into action when the 2-year-old girl she was babysitting began to choke on an apple slice.

“I picked her up and she was not breathing,” D’Urso said.

The teen then performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the apple slice, also performing a sweep of the baby’s mouth with her finger. D’Urso said she learned the maneuver at a babysitting class she had taken. The baby was later taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons, but returned home that night.

Detective Sgt. Joseph Comunale was one of several officers to receive the Meritorious Police Duty Award for his persistence in locating a suspect who is accused committing a “lewd sexual act” on a 16-year-old girl. The incident happened in December 2012, when the suspect allegedly broke into a Katonah home, but Comunale continued to search for the suspect. In 2016, using social media, he tracked the suspect to North Carolina, but he evaded capture. Comunale then located the suspect in Virginia, where he was arrested by U.S. Marshals. He was extradited to New York, where he will stand trial.

Several officers were also given a Unit Citation for working together to thwart a car theft. On July 16, 2017, the department was notified of a stolen vehicle that had fled Connecticut and was heading toward Bedford. Officer Frank Egelsen stationed himself on Greenwich Road, where he spotted the vehicle. The driver refused to pull over, leading police on a 20-minute pursuit. The vehicle eventually stopped and the suspects were taken into custody.

Officer Doug Romero was named the department’s Officer of the Year for 2017. Romero is a member of the department’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit, Bicycle Unit and Accident Investigation Team.

“He’s one of the most productive officers in the department,” said Bedford Police Chief Melvin Padilla. “He maintains a professional appearance and is a self-motivated employee.”

Padilla also announced the promotion of seven police officers, whose new badges were pinned on by family members. Among those promoted was Patricia McGraw, who was named the first female sergeant in the department’s history.

The chief thanked the community for the support of his department, noting that police aren’t always appreciated in other areas of the country.

“In this community, it’s different,” Padilla said. “This community does appreciate us.”

Award Recipients

  • Unit Citation: Lt. Michael Callahan, Officer Frank Egelsen, Sgt. Nicholas Fusco, Detective William Smith, Officer Ahmad Warren
  • Excellent Police Duty: Officer Frank Egelsen, Officer Eric Henderson
  • Life Saving Award: Civilians Julia D’Urso, Zulma Hayes; Officer Christopher Colello, Officer Frank Egelsen, Officer James Fiori, Officer Karen Fusco, Officer Matthew Iacona, Sgt. Rich O’Connell, Sgt. Peter Sikoryak, Officer Nancy Wallwork
  • Meritorious Police Duty: Officer Christopher Colello, Detective Sgt. Joseph Comunale, Officer Adam Grisanti, Officer Eric Henderson, Officer Andrew Klein, Sgt. Peter Sikoryak, Officer Nancy Wallwork
  • 2017 Traffic Safety Officer of the Year: Officer Nancy Wallwork
  • 2017 Police Officer of the Year: Officer Doug Romero

Police Department Promotions

  • Officer Jeffrey Gulick—Sergeant
  • Officer Peter Sikoryak—Sergeant
  • Officer Patricia McGraw—Sergeant
  • Sgt. Joseph Comunale—Detective Sergeant
  • Sgt. Andrew Bellantone—Lieutenant
  • Detective Sgt. Vincent Gruppuso—Lieutenant