UNION, NJ - The Union County Pipes and Drum Band escorted Union police officers into Town Hall on Thursday in celebration of National Police Week and the ceremony to award commendation medals and command citations.

Captain Bob Perez, the host of the event, welcomed his brothers and sisters in blue.  "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 on a daily basis to serve, protect and make the Township of Union a safe place to live and visit."

"It's an honor to be here and honor the service of both officers and civilians," said Union Mayor Suzette Cavadas.  "Their willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty is important to the safety and continuous growth of our community.  One of the main objectives of the Township Committee is to continue to put great effort into investing in this great town.  These investments would be pointless without ensuring that Union remain a safe place for our residents to live."

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"We are gathered together to celebrate our 8th Annual Police Week and to celebrate Union's finest," said Police Director Daniel Zieser.  "These brave officers will be receiving awards for the valor they have displayed in 2017."  Zieser said the crime in Union has dropped fifty-five percent since 2002.  "This is solely because of the hard work and dedication of members of this department."

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.

Distinguished Service Medal

Detective David Pinto

Detective Pinto has been assigned to the High Intensity Drug Task Force Area (HIDTA) since October 2012 as a Task Force Officer (TFO), and is part of a highly successful work group. As the lead investigator on many successful long term international and national investigations, his work has led to many large scale drug trafficking and money laundering organizations being dismantled or significantly disrupted. Pinto has received recognition from the DEA, as well as other agencies during his assignment.

Life Saving Award

Officer Daniel Teleposky

Officer Teleposky was dining at Joe’s American Bar and Grill inside the Short Hills Mall on November 2, 2017.  He noticed that a young child nearby was grabbing his throat.  Recognizing that the child was in distress, Teleposky immediately ran to the child’s aid.  After determining that the child was choking, Teleposky successfully performed the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged a piece of meat the child was choking on.

Commendation Medal

Sergeant Daniel Mitchell

On January 20, 2017, Sgt. Mitchell responded to an attempted armed robbery involving a handgun on Manor Drive.  Knowing possible escape routes in the area, Mitchell began to check the area of Chancellor Avenue.  He observed a grey vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle. Mitchell activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to signal the vehicle to stop. The vehicle was occupied by three males, and the driver of the vehicle refused to stop thereby initiating a pursuit.

The suspect vehicle entered the Garden State Parkway and continued at a high rate of speed, at times reaching 115 mph.  The driver of the suspect vehicle lost control and struck a guardrail by Vauxhall Rd.  Mitchell immediately executed a block and lock maneuver preventing any further pursuit. The occupants were identified and arrested.  A handgun was recovered at the scene. Further investigation revealed that the suspect vehicle was found to have been involved in a shooting shortly before being spotted by Mitchell.

Commendation Medal

Sergeant Kevin Murphy, Officer Robert Kiselow, Officer Joseph Rubel, Officer Daniel Hanselmann, Officer Nicholas Watson

Officers responded to a report of an armed carjacking at 1451 Stuyvesant Avenue on June 25, 2017.  Two suspects, one armed with a knife and the other armed with a handgun, approached the victim brandishing the weapons and demanded he empty his pockets. After removing the contents from his pockets, the suspects took his car keys, I-phone, and other items. The suspects then entered his vehicle and fled the area.

Officers were able to track the suspects and the vehicle with the victim’s GPS location feature on the phone. Officers responded and were able to locate the suspects in the vehicle. A block and lock technique was executed by Rubel, Hanselmann, Watson, Kiselow and Murphy to prevent a vehicle pursuit. The suspect vehicle attempted to accelerate and struck Murphy’s marked radio car head-on.  One of the suspects was immediately apprehended inside the vehicle. The second suspect fled on foot with the gun in hand. After a brief foot pursuit, the second suspect was apprehended. All of the weapons and the victim’s property were recovered at the scene.

Commendation Medal

Officer Teon Freeman

On July 4, 2017, Officer Freeman attempted to stop two suspects in a Land Rover that had just robbed the Exxon gas station at 1601 Rt. 22.  The vehicle had been reported as being carjacked in Newark. The vehicle fled, initiating a pursuit.

Freeman pursued the vehicle by himself into Newark. During the pursuit, the vehicle crashed into a house, and the suspects attempted to flee on foot. They were apprehended shortly thereafter by other responding officers. A loaded 9mm handgun, a replica AK-47 rifle, and the proceeds of the gas station robbery were recovered from inside the vehicle.

Command Citation

Officer Matthew Brady, Officer Earl Biddy

On April 13, 2017, Officers Brady and Biddy responded to a call of a dispute in progress between a man and a woman on a bus. The couple were kicked off the bus near Stuyvesant Ave and Vauxhall Rd. The officers located the couple and as they approached they detected an odor of marijuana. A search of the male suspect uncovered a pair of brass knuckles.  While the officers attempted to place him under arrest, he fled on foot. Biddy pursued the male on foot and apprehended him. A .22 caliber handgun loaded with hollow point bullets was recovered from his bag. A search of the female uncovered marijuana. She was arrested without incident.

Command Citation

Sergeant Michael Boll, Officer Joseph Sauer, Officer Joseph Devlin, Officer Scott Heath

On April 22, 2017, a motorist reported a road rage incident where a suspect displayed a handgun to him while driving. The victim followed the suspect’s vehicle and watched him pull into a gas station on Stuyvesant Avenue.  Sgt. Boll, along with Officers Sauer, Devlin, and Heath responded and encountered the suspect as he was walking away from his vehicle.

The suspect was ordered at gunpoint to put his hands up. While Boll, Heath, and Sauer provided cover, Devlin approached the suspect and retrieved a loaded handgun from his sweatshirt. The suspect was placed under arrest without incident.

Command Citation

Officer Earl Biddy, Officer Benjamin DelVirginia

While on patrol on May 25, 2017, Officers DelVirginia and Biddy executed a motor vehicle stop of a vehicle displaying a fictitious temporary tag as it exited the Garden State Motor Lodge. An investigation led to the arrest of the driver for producing a fraudulent insurance card and hindering apprehension.  He was also found to be a wanted person and was in possession of several folds of heroin as well as a loaded .380 caliber handgun.

Command Citation

Sergeant Walter Stinner, Detective John Oliveira

On May 13, 2017, while on patrol, Sgt. Stinner and Det. Oliveira observed a vehicle in the Walgreens parking of a vehicle wanted in connection with a shooting involving an assault rifle from Irvington the day before.

Upon noticing that the vehicle had a different registration, but the make, model, and color matched alert, the officers investigated further to determine if was the vehicle involved in the shooting. The vehicle contained two occupants. Officers pulled behind the vehicle and approached the occupants.

While approaching on the passenger side, Stinner observed the male passenger suddenly try conceal a handgun in a plastic bag and place it into his pocket.  The gun was immediately confiscated and the male was arrested. The gun was a .25 caliber Raven Arms loaded with six full metal jacketed ammunition. The other occupant was found to be in possession of heroin and arrested without incident.

Command Citation

Officer Scott Heath

On June 26, 2017, while on patrol Officer Heath responded to a call of suspicious activity on Spruce Ct. The caller reported that an unknown person was walking around their neighbor’s house. Upon arriving on scene, Heath heard a noise on the side of the house, and observed an individual run out of the house. Heath gave chase and after a foot pursuit, he was able to tackle the suspect to the ground and place him under arrest.

Unit Citation

Detective Captain Scott Breslow, Captain Bob Perez, Detective Lieutenant Victor Correia, Detective Lieutenant Mark Martin, Lieutenant Kevin Skiper, Detective Sergeant Walter Stinner, Detective Patrick Bradley, Detective Anthony Lagoa, Detective Odete Mirao, Detective Domenico Nuzzo, Detective John Oliveira, Detective Sergio Pereira, Detective Peter Simon, Officer Christopher Argast, Officer Carthaniel Crum, Officer Leslie Gaschler, Officer Robert Kiselow, Officer Thomas Ollemar, Officer Matthew Sakala, Officer Daniel Hanselmann

From November 2016 to July 2017 several members of the Detective Bureau, Street Crimes, Patrol and the Union County Prosecutors Office worked together in bringing a conclusion to a rash of work van thefts and burglaries throughout Union and several other municipalities. This group of organized thieves stole one to two work vans per night and burglarized other work vans on a regular basis. The investigation took several months. During that time, the suspects were tracked and surveilled by officers using various high tech methods, as well as employing traditional surveillance methods.  Numerous obstacles were  encountered during the course of the investigation. Regardless of whatever the obstacle, all of the officers were able to quickly adapt and overcome it.

The successful execution of search warrants to the residences and vehicles involved led to the recovery of several thousand dollars worth of stolen tools from the thefts and burglaries. The combined efforts of everyone involved also resulted criminal charges filed against six people.    

Certification of Recognition

Detective Sergeant Andrew Dellaquila (UCPO), Detective Ryan Kirsch (UCPO)