South Brunswick Police Department recognizes officer achievements

The South Brunswick Police Department has announced the winners of the department’s annual awards. Nominations were submitted to a committee of officers and a final report was submitted to the chief of police. The 2020 awards include four categories: Exceptional service, life-saving, community service, and the civilian award. Some 2019 efforts are also being recognized.

I. Exceptional Service Award – Recognizes the outstanding work of officers and detectives to track down suspects, solve cases, and bring justice for victims. It is the highest award given out this year.

Exceptional Service Award – Exploited Victims Investigation

Detective Brian Sites

Detective Sites investigated a series of crimes where young women were being exploited and extorted on the internet. Sites conducted a four-month investigation that included the procurement of numerous court orders, the execution of search warrants, the seizure of digital evidence, and the examination of thousands of images. He coordinated with the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crime Unit and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to pursue the suspect. His investigation determined that the suspect had been victimizing young women for several years. His investigation led to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.

Exceptional Service Award – Dark Web Drug Operation Arrests

Lieutenant Jeffrey Russo

Lieutenant Russo conducted a yearlong joint investigation along with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Agency into narcotics trafficking over the “Dark Web.” The joint investigation concluded with the execution of multiple search warrants throughout the state of New Jersey. The investigation resulted in the largest seizure of Xanax in the state. Five people were arrested and charged with multiple counts of trafficking narcotics.

Exceptional Service – Dispute Investigation

Officer Michael Urstadt

On June 30, Officer Urstadt investigated a dispute incident where the actor reported that he was the victim of a stabbing. The actual victim was afraid to call the police because she suffered significant abuse by the man. Urstadt’s investigation determined that the true victim in the assault was the woman and that the man had staged the crime scene. The woman was treated for substantial injuries and the man was arrested.

Exceptional Service Award – Fatal Hit and Run Arrest

Traffic Safety Bureau -Sergeant Gary Holsten, Officer Michael Leung, Officer Jesse Blake, Officer William Merkler

On August 8, the traffic safety bureau responded to a fatal hit and run motor vehicle crash on County Route 535. The investigation was complex, including the processing of three separate crime scenes over a five-mile area, multiple witness interviews, DNA/evidence collection and multiple search warrants. The investigation resulted in tracking down and arresting the suspect responsible for the death.

Exceptional Service – Handgun Arrest

Lieutenant Scott Reeves and Officer Bryan Garrison

On August 13, Officer Garrison responded to a report that someone was brandishing a firearm. Garrison quickly located the suspect’s vehicle and coordinated a high-risk motor vehicle stop with other officers, removing all occupants. Lieutenant Reeves canvassed the route the suspect vehicle had traveled, successfully recovering a loaded firearm with hollow point ammunition.

Exceptional Service Award – Robbery Arrest

Detective Domenick Delucia, Detective Brian Sites

On October 11 and while off duty, Detective Delucia observed a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle involved in a recent gas station armed robbery. Detective Delucia quickly coordinated assistance with other officers and Detective Sites responded. The suspect exited a store and officers approached to speak with him. The suspect fled on foot with detectives in pursuit. The detectives captured the suspect after a half-mile foot chase. The investigation brought an end to a robbery spree that spanned two states and three counties.

Exceptional Service Award – Armed Suspect Arrest

Sergeant Richard Hutchison, Officer Gagan Chopra, Officer George Morgan, Officer Jarrid Harpster

On December 22, officers responded to a hotel on a report of a wanted man with a stolen shotgun. Officers quickly arrived and officers conducted a systematic search of the five-story hotel. The team of officers ultimately located the armed suspect behind a banquet table. They were able to take him into custody without any injury to hotel guests, officers, or the suspect.

II. Life Saving Medal – This award is given to officers who actions saved the life of a person.

Life Saving Medal

Officer George Vit, Officer Joseph Marrero, Officer Joseph Rausch, Officer Jason Stonkus

On September 17, officers responded to a report of an 88-year-old man who was unresponsive. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man made a full recovery.

Life Saving Medal

Officer Jarrid Harpster, Officer Kent English

On December 10, Officer Harpster and Officer English responded to a report of a man that had stabbed himself in the chest multiple times. Officer Harpster improvised and utilized a plastic bag with duct tape to create a chest seal to stabilize the victim. Officer Harpster and Officer English continued to provide lifesaving care until the arrival of advanced emergency medical services. Their prompt actions saved the man’s life.

Life Saving Medal

Officer Daniel Rodriguez, Officer Michael Urstadt, Officer Tyler Harpster, Officer Jason Stonkus

On August 1, officers responded to a report of a 49-year-old man who was unresponsive. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery.

Life Saving Medal

Officer Christopher Magee-Vanderveen, Officer Daniel Rodriguez, Officer Michael Urstadt

On July 22, officers responded to a report of a 48-year-old man who was unresponsive. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery.

III. Community Service Award / Letter of Commendation – This award is given to officers who make the actions and effort improve the lives of residents and enhance the community.

Community Service Award

Sergeant Nathan Labuda

Sergeant Nathan Labuda has organized the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run in South Brunswick Township for the last seven years. Labuda coordinated fundraising efforts that resulted in substantial donations to the New Jersey Special Olympics. He also partnered the department and the South Brunswick School District to include special needs athletes from three different schools in a portion of the run.

Community Service Award

Officer George Morgan

Officer Morgan has become deeply involved with the South Brunswick Community both in an official capacity and as a volunteer for many community events. From his work raising funds for people in need to his coaching young people in basketball, he embodies community engagement. His efforts have fostered a positive relationship and partnership with the community, young people, and numerous other organizations.

Letter of Commendation

Public Safety Tele communicator John Muccioli

On October 11, John Muccioli exhibited excellent discretion and communication skills in coordinating a rapidly evolving foot pursuit of a robbery suspect. With little warning, detectives broadcasted that they were in a foot pursuit of a robbery suspect. Muccioli was able to provide precise and vital information, which greatly aided in the coordination for responding patrol units.

Letter of Commendation

Detective Timothy Hoover

Beginning in June of 2019, Detective Hoover led an investigation involving the distribution of drugs. He coordinated efforts with other agencies. The operation was dynamic and Detective Hoover handled all avenues of the investigation with excellence. A large quantity of drugs were taken off the street.

Letter of Commendation

Officer Brooke Labell

On September 24, Officer Labell, as a member of the department’s crime scene evidence technician program, was assigned to process a burglary scene at a residence. Labell’s detailed crime scene processing led to the recovery of latent fingerprints from the point of entry. The New Jersey State Police lab linked the latent fingerprints to a suspect who was later arrested.

Letter of Commendation

Officer Matthew Hagood

Officer Hagood responded to a report of a teen being dehydrated and lost in a heavily wooded area. Hagood located the juvenile, who was stuck in the mud up to his knees. The juvenile was assisted out of the mud and provided with medical attention.

IV. Civilian Awards – This category represents citizens whose efforts over the past year helped the South Brunswick Police Department.

Citizens Appreciation Award

Fazil Syed

On February 19, Fazil Syed observed a Nixle alert during the late evening hours alerting his neighborhood about a missing 10-year-old nonverbal autistic child. Syed immediately left his home and began to search his neighborhood. Syed quickly located the child and alerted the police. The child had been outside in the cold for several hours.

Civilian Staff Recognition Award

Caryl Greenberg

For over thirteen years, Caryl Greenberg worked hand in hand with the police department in helping members of the community while serving as a social worker. She proved to be an invaluable resource and problem solver for officers.

Chief’s Safety Award

Mildred Torres – Domestic Violence Response Team

Mildred Torres is awarded the chief’s safety award for assisting victims of domestic violence in South Brunswick for more than ten years. The domestic violence response team has proven to be an effective tool to support victims in breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

Chief’s Safety Award

Christine Caputo-Raddatz

Christine Caputo-Raddatz is awarded the chief’s safety award for protecting the children of South Brunswick Township day in and day out by serving as a crossing guard for over 10 years.

Citizens Appreciation Award

Francis White and Francis White Jr.

On December 10, Francis White and Francis White Jr. observed a man stabbing himself in the chest with a knife. Both men wrestled the knife away from him. White provided life-saving care and directed officers to the man’s location. The efforts of the two men saved a life.