UNION, NJ – Township police officers and heroes were honored during a National Police Week celebration with an awards ceremony at Town Hall on Thursday.

Welcoming his brothers and sisters in blue, Capt. David Tyms said, “It is your selflessness, bravery and call to duty that brings us here today. Each and every one of you put your lives on the line to serve and protect and to make our citizens feel safe and secure.”

Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

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“It’s a privilege to be here with you today to honor recognizing National Police Week,” said Mayor Suzette Cavadas, “and to honor the service of these officers and civilians.  Your willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty is critical to ensuring the safety and continued growth of our community.”

Committeeman and Police Commissioner Manuel Figueiredo said, “your professionalism, your dedication and your sacrifice make this great Township of Union a little safer every single day.”

“I am very proud of each and every officer in the Union Police Department,” said Police Director Daniel Zieser, “who go out every day, 24/7, doing a job we believe is right and just.”

“It is a privilege to be here with you today,” said Freeholder Vernel Wright, “and to honor your service.  Your willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty is critical.  The example you set make all of us better citizens.”

Commendation Medals:

Police Officer Thomas Ollemar; Police Officer Joseph Rubel

On December 7, 2016, Officers Ollemar and Rubel stopped a car on Route 22.  The on-scene investigation revealed the driver was a fugitive from justice and she was arrested.  She was found to be in possession of a sandwich bag suspected to be filled with heroin.  A loaded 25 caliber handgun was found in her fanny pack that she had been wearing and had just removed.

            Police Officer Joseph Rubel; Police Officer Leslie Gaschler; Police Officer Robert Kiselo

            On November 23, 2016, Officers Rubel, Gaschler and Kiselow were riding together when they stopped a vehicle on Hillcrest Terrace for a motor vehicle violation.  As they approached the vehicle, the rear passenger was observed making a quick movement and the distinct odor of marijuana was detected.  The on-scene investigation led to a search of the vehicle and the discovery of a small amount of marijuana and an opened bottle of brandy.  A loaded handgun was hidden beneath the steering wheel.  All three occupants, all in their early 20s, were placed under arrest. 

            Sergeant Thomas Florio

            On May 25, 2016, at 1:11 a.m., Maplewood police pursued and lost a felony vehicle as it entered Union.   Moments later Sgt. Florio located the vehicle and gave chase.  The vehicle was pursued into Newark where it crashed into a tree.  The driver attempted to run from the vehicle but was quickly apprehended by Sgt. Florio.  The vehicle had been carjacked in Newark and was suspected in several strong arm robberies.

            Police Officer Thomas Ollemar; Police Officer Robert Kiselow

            On March 4, 2016, Officers Ollemar and Kiselow stopped a car for a motor vehicle violation after it had left the parking lot of the Garden State Motor Lodge.  The odor of marijuana was detected which led to a search of the vehicle.  A loaded highpoint 9mm handgun and marijuana was found and the four occupants were arrested.

            Police Officer Daniel Hanselmann

            On March 4, 2016, at 12:17 a.m., a vehicle was carjacked at gunpoint from the parking lot of Wendy’s on Route 22.  The investigation led officers to Newark.  Officer Hanselmann was alone when he located the suspect vehicle driving in Newark.  He signaled for the vehicle to stop and a pursuit ensued.  The pursuit came to an end when the vehicle crashed.  Two suspects exited the vehicle and fled on foot.  Officer Hanselmann ran after the driver. A lengthy foot pursuit took place in which Officer Hanselmann followed the suspect for some distance, over several fences, through parking lots and down streets, never losing sight of him. 

            With the assistance of other Union officers who had responded to the area, the driver was taken into custody without further incident.  The second suspect was apprehended by officers from the Newark Police Department.  The victim positively identified both suspects as the ones who had carjacked him. 

            Detective Anthony Lagoa

            In February, 2016, Detective Lagoa was off duty working a job-in-blue at Whole Foods.  In this particular job, the officer wears a full uniform, but patrols the parking lot in his personal vehicle.  Officer Lagoa was in his own vehicle when he observed suspicious activity in the parking lot.  The occupants of two vehicles, one with out of state license plates, were observed moving a box and two laundry bags from one vehicle to the other.  Detective Logoa then observed one individual moving a bag of marijuana from one of the larger bags and then observed one of the other individuals move a stack of U.S. currency from a different bag and handing the bag over to the individual. 

            Realizing a drug deal was going down, Detective Logoa called for help and other officers came upon the scene.   The buyer was arrested at the scene and the seller was later arrested at his home afterwards.  The investigation concluded with the seizure of 60 pounds of marijuana, $262,000 in cash, a stolen handgun and numerous criminal charges filed against both the buyer and seller.

Command Citations:

                        Detective Anthony Lagoa

            Again in November, 2016 , Dectective Lagoa was working a job-in-blue on Springfield Avenue, again in the Whole Foods parking lot.  He again observed suspicious activity in the lot.  He observed several individuals going back and forth from the Best Buy store while loading backpacks into the trucks of two vehicles which had parked very close to his car.  Detective Lagoa kept the individuals under surveillance and asked for assistance from other officers. 

            Awaiting the officers, Detective Lagoa followed one of the vehicle out of the parking lot.  He followed until the radio car got closer and together they stopped the vehicle.  They found illegal drugs and Apple computer products in the vehicle.  The investigation revealed those products were just stolen and the suspects were arrested.  The other vehicle was chased by the Street Crimes Unit onto Rt. 78, where it crashed on the entranceway to the Garden State Parkway.  There was a foot pursuit and eventually three men were apprehended and more stolen property was found.  The investigation revealed that this was an organized retail theft crew that came from Brooklyn and they had stolen items in other stores.  In Union, they had stolen over $25,000 in electronics from the Best Buy store.  They were suspects in many other crimes in many cities between Union and New York. 

            Police Officer Carthaniel Crum; Police Officer Nicholas Katsock

            On July 11, 2016, at 5:13 a.m., Officers Crum and Katsock responded to a female threatening to jump from the Vauxhall Road bridge over the Parkway.  The officers attempted to communicate with the 21-year old, but she yelled at them to stay away as she closed her eyes and began to take a step off of the bridge.  Without hesitation, Officer Crum immediately grabbed her shirt and pulled her back.  Together the officers were able to bring the woman back safety to the sidewalk. 

            Sergeant Kevin Skiper; Police Officer Thomas Ollemar; Police Officer Joseph Rubel

            On May 7, 2016, Officers Ollemar and Rubel stopped a car in the parking lot of the Garden State Motor Lodge.  The odor of marijuana led to a search of the vehicle.  A small amount of marijuana was found in the backseat.  During a search of the vehicle, Sgt. Skiper observed that the rear folding seat was ajar.  A further search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a loaded .357 hand gun.

            Police Officer William Piliego; Police Officer Antoine Colbert; Police Officer Robert Kiselow

            On March 25, two individuals entered a room at the Garden State Motor Lodge, tied up a woman and robbed her at gunpoint.  During the follow-up investigation, Officer Piliego located the suspects on video surveillance and obtained a detailed description of their vehicle.  A patrol alert was issued and from that alert, Office Colbert recognized the vehicle as one he had observed in the parking lot of the Motor Lodge earlier on the day of the robbery.  Officer Colbert had checked the license plate on the car and the car was registered to an address in Newark.

            Officers Piliego, Colbert and Kiselow along with Sergeant Michael Wittevrongel responded to Newark and were able to locate the vehicle.  They kept the vehicle under surveillance and stopped an individual as he entered the car.  The individual later admitted to the robbery as well as another armed robbery and aggravated sex assault in a nearby town.  Two handguns and the proceeds from the robbery at the Motor Lodge, as well as from the other robberies, were found in the vehicle. 

            Police Officer Michael Campos; Police Officer Nuno Lopes; Newark Detective Juan Vazquez

            On March 23, 2016, at 4:51 p.m., an individual entered the D&S Gold Exchange on Morris Avenue, brandished a handgun and demanded money.  The suspect pointed the gun at a female employee before hitting her with the barrel.  He then jumped the counter and pointed the gun at the chest of the second employee and demanded money.  The suspect stole money and fled the store at which time the employees called police. 

            Off duty Newark Detective Juan Vazquez saw the suspect run out of the store, down a nearby street and into the passenger side of a parked car.  He alerted responding officers and pointed out the suspect’s vehicle.  Officers Campos and Lopes approached the vehicle, ordered the suspects out of the car at gun point and took them into custody.  The stolen money and the weapon, an aerosol gun with an orange tip to make it look like a realistic gun, were recovered at the scene.

            Lieutenant Chris Donnelly; Sergeant Thomas Florio; Police Officer Marco Penetra

            On September 30, Sgt. Florio and Lieutenant Donnelly were on patrol when they received a report of a motor vehicle theft in Morristown.  A short while later, they observed the vehicle driving on Morris Avenue and followed it.  The suspects became aware of their presence and a motor vehicle pursuit was initiated.  The pursuit was terminated when the stolen vehicle reached extreme speeds.  The stolen vehicle ended up crashing on Stuyvesant Avenue in front of Cioffi’s Restaurant and the driver fled on foot.

            A perimeter was set up and the area was searched.  Officer Penetra found the suspect hiding in some bushes at a nearby house and took him into custody.  A metal airsoft pistol and some marijuana were found inside the car and it was later learned that the vehicle had actually been carjacked at gunpoint and the suspect had committed another street robbery before coming down to Union.