Thirty-three Morris County Sheriff’s Officers, Correctional Police Officers and Non-Sworn Staff who either saved lives, completed service in the United States military, toiled through the COVID-19 threat or brought honor to the agency were applauded Friday morning at its annual Medal Day ceremony.
“I have to say it’s my proudest day,” said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
Medal and citation recipients and Command Staff from the Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement and Bureau of Corrections gathered in an outdoor canopy tent at Frelinghuysen Arboretum while other Officers and staff viewed the livestreamed ceremony virtually.
The ceremony recognized Officers and Non-Sworn Staff who, over the past year, acted courageously in an emergency, furthered their
education, honorably served in the military, showed particular initiative, performed admirably through unanticipated COVID-19 challenges, and even brought positive national attention to the Office through victory in the popular A&E Network’s “America’s Top Dog.”
“Everyone in the agency could be cited or awarded a medal multiple times, and I thank you for that,” Sheriff Gannon said.
“Today, we recognize acts by Officers and Staff that go beyond the efforts that all here make to ensure that the agency is always a class act. All the Officers and Non-Sworn staff working for the Bureaus of Law Enforcement and Corrections are true professionals who make me proud to be the Morris County Sheriff,” he said.
The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Joint Honor Guard presented the Colors to start the ceremony. Bureau of Corrections Lieutenant Andrew Bileci and Bureau of Law Enforcement Detective Lieutenant Laura Flynn read the background of the medal and citation recipients from their respective bureaus.
The recipients are Bureau of Corrections Corporal Pete Lenahan, Correctional Police Officers Richard Quinn and Christopher Struble, and Bureau of Law Enforcement Special Law Enforcement Officer II Jeffrey Paul, Sergeant Nicole Leo, Detectives Marc Adamsky and Timothy Palazzolo, and Investigator Philip Masi.
Corporal Pete Lenahan and his partner, Corporal Scott Schraft, were traveling on Route 24 with an inmate in custody when they chanced upon an overturned vehicle on Aug. 14, 2019. They pulled over and Corporal Lenahan approached the overturned vehicle while his partner stayed with the inmate. Corporal Lenahan noticed that a female was partially ejected from the vehicle, and as Morris Township Police Officers arrived, he assisted with checking the vital signs of the entrapped female. Life-saving measures, including CPR, were implemented until State Police and first responders arrived at the scene.
Correctional Police Officers Christopher Struble and Richard Quinn, on March 13, 2020, came upon a serious motor vehicle crash that resulted in a fire with one occupant still inside the vehicle. As a team, they doused the blaze, called for aid, and determined the single occupant was unconscious but breathing. They removed the occupant from the vehicle in case it reignited and safely turned the occupant’s care over to EMTs.
SLEO II Jeffrey Paul, who also serves as Director of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), had just left Morristown Medical Center’s Emergency Room on January 28, 2020, and was in his vehicle approaching the Route 287 overpass when he saw a female, later determined to be 16 years old, climbing up the safety fencing in a suspected attempt to jump onto Route 287 below. SLEO II Paul contacted the Morris County Communications Center while simultaneously running from his vehicle to the fence. He pulled the girl from the fence and held on to her until Morristown Police Officers arrived. SLEO II Paul refused to release the girl until she was safely transported, and admitted to Morristown Medical Center.
Detective Marc Adamsky, as a K-9 Officer, responded on July 31, 2020, at 3 a.m. to Roxbury to assist with a hit-and-run motor vehicle investigation. Police had located a heavily-damaged Jeep Gladiator in an entrance lane to Route 80. The airbag had been deployed, blood was present and no driver was on scene. Detective Adamsky and K-9 Tim scouted the area, with K-9 Tim displaying an alert to airborne human odor in the vicinity. The K-9 partners followed the scent to bushes in a wooded area, where Detective Adamsky observed the driver lying in the bushes along a fence. The driver, who suffered a head injury, was transported from the scene.
Sergeant Nicole Leo was on patrol in the area of Morris County Central Park in Parsippany on August 3, 2020, when she responded to a radio call for medical assistance. She was alerted by a witness that an individual was on a path and not breathing. Sergeant Leo covered 200 yards to find the person and performed life-saving CPR until EMS and paramedics arrived to take over medical aid.
Detective Tim Palazzolo and Investigator Phil Masi on June 29, 2020, were assigned to the Marine Division of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and undergoing training with the New Jersey State Police Marine Unit when they received a radio call that a small sailboat had capsized off of Bertrand’s Island in a main part of Lake Hopatcong and four individuals were in the water. Detective Palazzolo and Investigator Masi collectively located two adults and two young boys in the water, all wearing their personal flotation devices but at risk for drowning or being struck by a passing vessel. The capsized vessel was towed to shore after the individuals were safely removed from the water and placed on State Police boats.
EXCEPTIONAL DUTY MEDAL:
The recipients are Correctional Police Officer Ronnie Joseph, Correctional Police Officer and K-9 Section Detective John Granato and Sheriff’s Office Detective Corporal Michael McMahon, who was twice recognized for exceptional duty.
Officer Ronnie Joseph recently retired from the United States National Guard after more than 20 years of service during which he achieved the highest enlisted rank of Sergeant Major. His tours of duty included numerous overseas missions and in areas of conflict, for which he was awarded multiple citations and awards for outstanding duty.
Detective John Granato and his K-9 partner Spike participated on November 2, 2019, in the Union County K-9 Competition that featured teams from surrounding counties that all voluntarily participated to test their K-9 skills against the other. Detective Granato brought public acclaim to himself and the Sheriff’s Office through an outstanding performance that was recognized by achieving high honors at the competition.
Detective Corporal Mike McMahon achieved a highly credible accomplishment and brought acclaim to the Sheriff’s Office by participating with K-9 Kaiser in the TV reality series “America’s Top Dog” in the summer of 2019. Team Kai won the series, which was revealed on March 18, 2020, and broke several time records in the process.
Detective Corporal Mike McMahon received a second Exceptional Duty award after participating on November 3, 2019, with K-9 Kaiser in the Protection Sports Association (PSA) National K-9 Trial in Sewell, N.J. The trial featured 14 K-9 teams from across the country that displayed their skills in the areas of obedience and apprehension. Team Kai was awarded 4th place overall, with a final score of 91.5, along with acknowledgment of high honors.
HONORABLE SERVICE MEDAL:
The recipients of the Honorable Service Medal are Bureau of Law Enforcement Detectives Marc Adamsky and Edward Zienowicz and Civilian Dody Blank.
Detective Marc Adamsky and K-9 Tim assisted Boonton Township Police on August 3, 2020, with a burglary investigation that involved the homeowner seeing footage on her security system that showed a suspect breaking into the home. The team attempted for a lengthy period of time to locate a trail of human scent and ultimately did, with K-9 Tim displaying a positive alert at a residence where the suspect was discovered.
Detective Edward Zienowicz has proven invaluable to the Warrants Section of the Bureau of Law Enforcement. He brought unique insight to the section through assignments with other agencies that have led to him assisting with the creation and revision of section forms that reduce Officer liability and increased compliance with the most current legal updates. He introduced new systems to enhance detectives’ ability to investigate and track subjects, and initiated an audit of older warrants that led to greater efficiencies in the section.
Chief Clerk Dody Blank always made herself available to assist the Office and Legal Services Section during Morris County’s COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. She took on risk to herself to help move forward any clerical duties required of the Office civilian staff and she was voluntarily assigned as a scribe at the County College of Morris COVID-19 test site throughout its operation.
EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL (Bachelor’s Degree):
Bureau of Law Enforcement Officer Will Diaz earned two Bachelor’s Degrees, in criminology and sociology, from William Paterson University.
NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL:
Bureau of Law Enforcement Detective Christopher Murarik served honorably on active duty in the United States military during a designated time period during a time of war or conflict. In 2019, he was deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Spartan Shield).
TITLE OF K-9 TRAINER:
Bureau of Law Enforcement K-9 Section Detective Michael Carbone was awarded the titles of Patrol K-9 Trainer and Specialty K-9 Trainer. He satisfied the K-9 Training Standards and Qualification Requirements for New Jersey Law Enforcement,” and is qualified to conduct basic and in-service training for police handler-police dog teams.
SHERIFF’S ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
Bureau of Law Enforcement Confidential Assistant Kathy (Shively) Rogers will retire September 30, 2020, after 35 years of honorable and distinguished service to the agency, primarily in the Crime Scene Investigation Section.
UNIT CITATION AWARD:
Bureau of Corrections Captain Steven Piatti, Captain Joseph Fucci, Lieutenant Jay Milos, Lieutenant Thomas Markey, Sergeant Shawn Johnston, Corporal Peter Lohmus, and Correctional Police Officer Steven Goodman received a unit citation for their outstanding service in managing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at the Morris County Correctional Facility. In March 2020, the facility was forced to change the way it operated to ensure the safety of staff and inmates. Changes included lockdowns of the facility, suspension of visitors, remote court proceedings, purchase and issuance of personal protective equipment, enhancement of sanitation throughout the facility and purchase of additional cleaning supplies.
UNIT CITATION AWARD:
Correctional Police Officer Jillian Schweizer and Correctional Police Lieutenant Sean Lomax eased anxiety on fellow Officers through hard work and diligence in seeing that employees were compensated in a timely manner with hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hazard pay was approved through a memorandum of agreement between the Morris County Board of Freeholders and the Sheriff.
CIVILIAN SERVICE AWARD:
Bureau of Corrections Maintenance Employee Ernest Stiner is an integral part of a dynamic team of employees in the maintenance department. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Stiner assumed the responsibility of being on-call around the clock. Whenever a maintenance issue came to light during the unprecedented time, he never hesitated to report to work and complete tasks in a thorough, timely and professional manner.
CITIZEN’S SERVICE MEDAL:
Bureau of Law Enforcement Clerk 1 Joseph Chandra, Keyboarding Clerk 2 Christie Grapsas, Keyboarding Clerk 2 Shannon Rice, Keyboarding Clerk 2 Lori Snead, Keyboarding Clerk 3 Danielle Bonfanti and Keyboarding Clerk 4 Bhavna Patel earned the Citizen’s Service Medal for providing services that were beneficial to the Sheriff’s Office, the Morris County Office of Emergency Management, and the County of Morris, during the 2020 COVID-19-related operations. They assisted with scribing at the COVID-19 swabbing site, maintained information and tracked man-hours associated with the project while attending to normally-scheduled duties.