MAHOPAC, N.Y. - In a police awards and recognition ceremony held last week, the Carmel Police Department gave out 28 medals and accommodations to officers and staff members who went above and beyond on duty.
Once an annual event, the ceremony hasn’t been held in nearly a decade. Town and police officials hope to re-establish it as an annual celebration of exceptional service.
“This is a special evening for our law enforcement officers here in Carmel,” Supervisor Ken Schmitt said as the ceremony got underway during the Town Board’s Oct. 15 meeting. “These officers performed their duties above and beyond what would be considered normal police duty.”
Schmitt, a former police officer himself who won several awards while a member of the Carmel Police Department, said he knew what the officers were experiencing.
“I know what it is and I know what they are feeling,” he said.
Lt. John Dearman, who is serving as commanding officer in the wake of Chief Mike Cazzari’s retirement this past summer, said the event was “long overdue.”
“The department hasn’t done an awards night in quite some time—about eight years,” he said. “It’s a pleasure, especially with this young, new department. They went on a crazy run this summer, so they deserve it. We have a lot of young officers doing a lot of good things out in the community.”
Councilman Mike Barile said the impressive list of awards—there were 28 of them—should silence the critics of the department.
“For the people who question why we have a local police department, you just saw the reason why,” he said after the ceremony.
Deputy Supervisor Suzi McDonough said she was moved by the stories of the officers’ bravery and action.
“I’m so proud of each and every one of them,” she said. “They brought me to tears tonight.”
Here’s a list of the honors and awards and the stories behind them:
Meritorious Police Duty/Lifesaving Medal
Officer Daniel Shea
On Aug. 6, 2020, Officer Shea responded to a Mahopac home after a 2-year-old boy was reported drowned in the family pool. Upon arrival, the officer found the boy at the rear of the house, lying face up on the pool deck, attended by his mother and his aunt. Shea discovered that the boy was not breathing and did not have a pulse. He began CPR and did a reassessment after clearing fluid from the boy’s airway but there was still no pulse present. He continued CPR and eventually the boy’s heart began beating on its own again. By this time, a paramedic from EMStar had arrived and took over medical care. Officer Shea has been given the Meritorious Police Duty award and the Lifesaving Medal.
Meritorious Police Duty
Officers Neil Brown and Chris Fox
On Sept. 26, 2020, officers Brown and Fox responded to a call in Mahopac for a motor vehicle accident that had injured and trapped the car’s driver. Upon arrival, Brown radioed that the engine compartment was on fire and so was the tree the car had struck. Flames were hitting the powerlines above them. Fox and Brown were unable to get the driver out of the vehicle because of the extensive damage and the fire was beginning to enter the passenger compartment. Fox was then able to reach through the rear window and drag the driver out through the back of the car. Fox and Brown then carried the driver across the street, away from the fire, where they turned him over to EMS. The two officers have been given the Meritorious Police Duty award.
Sgt. Michael Bodo, Officers Chris Fox and Sandy Crecco
On Aug. 13, 2019, Sgt. Michael Bodo, Officer Chris Fox and Officer Sandy Crecco responded to a Mahopac residence to check on a possibly suicidal person. They discovered an unconscious man in a vehicle parked in the driveway. Bodo administered a dose of Narcan to the victim, who regained consciousness. Inside the house, two women were unconscious. One came to but was extremely disoriented; the second woman, initially unresponsive, regained consciousness after Crecco and Fox administered Narcan. Due to their quick response, professionalism and decisive action, Bodo, Fox and Crecco were all awarded Lifesaving Medals.
Letters of Commendation
Officers James Zaccone, Arthur Kloskowski, Daniel Shea, Vincenzo Rocco, Vincent Serio, Det. Brian Forde, Sgt. Michael Bodo, Sgt. James Terraza
On Aug. 4, 2020, when Tropical Storm Isaias struck, the Carmel PD was overwhelmed with calls. Officers James Zaccone, Arthur Kloskowski, Daniel Shea, Vincenzo Rocco, Vincent Serio, Det. Brian Forde, Sgt. Michael Bodo and Sgt. James Terraza all worked through the storm and responded to every call with exceptional professionalism under extremely hazardous conditions. They have all been award letters of commendation.
Letter of Commendation
Dispatcher Meagan Stern
On Sept. 13, 2019, at 5 p.m., Carmel PD received a call regarding a missing woman with dementia. She had last been seen at a hair salon two hours earlier and did not have a cellphone. Dispatcher Meagan Stern took it upon herself to contact the New York State Police Intelligence Center and entered the woman’s license-plate number into the statewide system. The vehicle got a license-plate-recognition hit in Orange County and Stern then entered the woman’s name into a statewide database as a missing person, with special attention in Orange County. Later that evening, State Police notified Carmel PD they had located the woman in Chemung County after a minor car accident.
Stern’s knowledge and proficiency in the various law enforcement systems was crucial to the safe return of an endangered missing person and she’s been awarded a letter of commendation.
Excellent Police Duty
Officer Arthur Kloskowski
On Sept. 12, 2020, Officer Kloskowski responded to a call that a man had sustained a severe laceration to his hand. He found the man on the floor of his home with a large amount of blood around him. The victim’s hand was wrapped but still bleeding. Kloskowski applied a tourniquet to the man’s arm to stop the bleeding until EMS could arrive. For helping to save the man’s life, Kloskowski has received the Excellent Police Duty award.
Letters of Commendation
Sgt. Michael Russo, Officers Thomas Eagan, Brian Smith and David Garcia
On Aug. 6, 2020, Carmel PD responded to a Mahopac residence following a report that a 2-year-old boy had drowned in the family pool. Sgt. Russo and officers Smith, Garcia and Eagan, along with deputies from the Sheriff’s Department, acted swiftly to clear roadways and shut down intersections needed to give the responding ambulance an unobstructed route to the hospital.
Excellent Police Duty/Lifesaving Medal
Officer Brian Forde
On Feb. 21, 2020, Officer Forde responded to a Mahopac residence where a man was reported in possible cardiac arrest. Forde assessed the situation and realized it was actually an opioid overdose. He administered two doses of Narcan and within a minute the victim regained consciousness. Forde has been awarded the Excellent Police Duty citation and the Lifesaving Medal.
Excellent Police Duty/Lifesaving Medal
Officers Brian Detz and Vincent Serio
On March 6, 2017, officers Serio and Detz responded to a Mahopac Falls home for a welfare check because a family couldn’t get in touch with the 82-year-old man who lived there. He had been scheduled to arrive in Florida that day. The officers found the man’s cousin and neighbor searching the exterior of the house in an attempt to locate him. The officers found an unlocked garage window and gained access to the home. They found the man lying on his bedroom floor and unresponsive. They provided medical assistance and called for an ambulance. If not for the officers’ instincts and intuition, the victim would have remained in danger. For their swift actions, they have been awarded Excellent Police Action citations and the Lifesaving Medal.
Officer Vincenzo Rocco
On Aug. 4, 2020, during the day tour and into the afternoon shift, Tropical Storm Isaias struck and overwhelmed the police department with calls for service. At the height of the storm, the department received a 911 call of a possible overdose in Carmel. Officer Rocco discovered an unconscious 29-year-old man and, recognizing his condition as an opioid overdose, administered two doses of Narcan. The man regained consciousness. EMS response was delayed due to the storm, so Rocco’s decisive actions proved to be lifesaving and he is awarded the Lifesaving Medal.