Newark – The Essex County Sheriff’s Office today celebrated and commemorated National Police Week with the presentation of awards to those officers and civilians who went above and beyond the call of duty.
At today’s ceremony, Sheriff Armando Fontoura pinned the department’s Medal of Honor on Officer Anthony Horton who on November 19, 2009 was shot in the left leg while disrupting an attempted car theft on Frelinghuysen Avenue. The suspects who were wanted for previous carjackings in the area were pursued and captured by Detective Sarita Vega of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Detective O. C. Gathright, Officer Edward Esposito and Officer David Cohen of the sheriff’s office. For apprehending the four suspects and the recovery of three loaded semi-automatic weapons the officers were presented Medals of Merit.
Sheriff’s Bomb Squad Detective John Frucci was also awarded a Medal of Merit for the removal of five improvised explosive devices, a hand grenade, a large cache of ammunition and fireworks, and other bomb-making materials from a North Caldwell residence on November 30, 2009.
Medals of Merit were presented to Lt. John Good and Det. John Goncalves, crisis negotiators for the sheriff’s office, for talking an armed robbery suspect who was high on Ecstasy tablets off the edge of a roof of an abandoned building in East Orange. The suspect had threatened to jump from the roof and take anyone who came near him with him.
Fontoura presented a Medal of Merit to Detective Daryl Johnson. Johnson observed an armed robbery in progress at Norfolk and West Market streets on May 14, 2010. The officer pursued and captured the gunman and confiscated his weapon.
Officer Alexis Coelho joined Clifton police in pursuing three armed robbers driving south on Route 21 on March 3, 2010. After crashing the getaway car, Coelho chased one of the suspects on foot across the highway to the Passaic River where she arrested him and recovered his weapon. For her actions, Coelho was awarded the Medal of Merit.
A Life Saving Award was presented to Officer Stephanie Know who on January 31, 2010 kept a suicidal woman on the telephone for more than two hours until Roseland police could secure the potential victim and take her to Mountainside Hospital for a psychological evaluation.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Office presented its annual Award of Excellence to Sgt. David Hughes, a 25-year veteran of the department’s K-9 Squad. For many years, Hughes has supervised the training of all handlers and their dogs. Many law enforcement agencies along the eastern seaboard come to the Essex County Sheriff’s K-9 headquarters in the South Mountain Reservation for their training. Hughes also designed the headquarters and the vehicles that transport the canines.
The department’s Unit citation was award to the Tactical Response Team which is the primary entry team during major gang take-downs, dangerous drug arrests, active shooter incidents and other high risk incidents. The Sheriff’s Tactical Response Team has worked in operations with the United States Secret Service, the New Jersey State Police, the Essex County Prosecutor’s VIPER Unit and the Newark, Irvington, West Orange and Caldwell police departments.
John Gunnello, president of T. Farese and Sons of Newark, was presented with the Citizen’s Service Award. During the 2009 New Year’s Eve ice and snow storm, Gunnello rescued and towed a sheriff’s prisoner’s van with a full load of inmates that became “stuck-still” on an icy incline on Clinton Avenue.
The department’s Corporate Leadership Award was presented to Eugene Reda, president of Savit Corporation. At a cost of more than $20,000 to him, Reda retrofitted the sheriff’s bomb robots with the most modern camera systems, allowing the officers to operate with wide-angle, fish-eye lens’s as well as infrared cameras which provide the opportunity to work in “no light” environments.
On hand to congratulate the officers and civilians were County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Freeholder President Blonnie Watson and Prosecutor Robert Laurino.