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Connecticut State Police Patch STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
May 18, 2009
                                 State Police Troopers from
                              TroopS A, B, G Receive Service Awards

State Police Troopers from Troop A in Southbury, Troop B in North Canaan and Troop G in Bridgeport received awards for service during a ceremony May 18 at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.

Twice a year, the Connecticut State Police honors Troopers who demonstrate bravery and outstanding service in the line of duty.  The ceremony also honors men and women serving in local and federal law enforcement agencies, those serving as first responders and civilians.  Award winners received medals and certificates from Department of Public Safety Commissioner John A. Danaher III and State Police Colonel Thomas Davoren.

Awards were presented in four categories:

Ø      The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to any person who renders service with a high degree of alertness, perseverance and superior judgment in the performance of a difficult task resulting in the protection of life, recovery of property, the prevention of – or solving of – a major crime or the apprehension of an armed or dangerous person.

Ø      The Lifesaving Award is presented to any person who saves a human life or makes a valiant attempt to save a life.

Ø      The Outstanding Service Award is given to any person who successfully performs an extreme, complex or difficult investigation. The person also may demonstrate exceptional skill or ingenuity in the apprehension of a wanted person, provide outstanding service to the public and or continuously achieves excellence in performance of duties over an extended period of time.

Ø      The Unit Citation is awarded to members of a department, a command or group who combine their resources to achieve success in an investigation or event. The citation recognizes exceptional collective efforts.

Awards were presented to:

Sergeant Michael Alogna, Sergeant Edwin Olavarria, Trooper First Class Joshua Koval - Troop G  On Oct. 24, 2008, at 10 a.m., Troop G made a broadcast regarding a male suspect sought after by New Haven Police and looking to commit “suicide by cop.”  The man was last seen driving a stolen postal vehicle while armed with a hand gun, which he had fired at a victim earlier that day.

New information revealed that the suspect was driving a pickup truck.  Trooper Koval began checking the rest areas in his patrol area.  While at the I-95 Southbound rest area, he observed what he believed to be the suspect vehicle with the suspect still inside.  Sgt. Alogna and Sgt. Olavarria, along with officers from the Fairfield Police Department, arrived at the scene to contain the suspect and evacuate the rest area.  When they attempted to stop the suspect’s vehicle, the suspect fled onto I-95 South, initiating a pursuit involving the three Troopers and the Fairfield Officers, as well as officers from the Darien and Stamford Police Departments. 

Troopers stopped the suspect vehicle in the right lane at the exit 8 ramp.  Negotiations with the suspect were attempted by the three Troopers and they observed the suspect holding a handgun to his own head.  Negotiations continued and after approximately 45 minutes, the suspect threw the handgun out the window and was taken into custody without further incident. 

Sgt. Alogna, Sgt. Olavarria and Trooper Koval were presented with the medal for Meritorious Service.

Southbury Officer Brian McKirryher and Southbury Officer John Jaskolka   On July 4, 2008, Officers McKirryher and Jaskolka were dispatched to a supermarket in Southbury in response to a medical call.  Upon arrival, the officers learned that an older male had collapsed in the bottle return area and had gone into cardiac arrest.

Both officers evaluated the male, determining that he was not breathing and he had no pulse.  They immediately initiated CPR, attached a defibrillator to the male victim and administered shock to the man.  Officers McKirryher and Jaskolka continued CPR and rescue breaths until the arrival of EMS.  The male subject was eventually transported to a local hospital and has gradually recovered from this life-threatening incident. 

Officer McKirryher and Officer Jaskolka earned awards for Lifesaving.

Supervisor Sergeant Brian Van Ness, Trooper First Class Thomas Corres, Dispatcher Donna Dacey – Troop A    On Sept. 16, 2008, Troop A received a 911 call from a despondent woman who reported that she had taken a large amount of prescription medications in an attempt to commit suicide.  The woman was evasive and would not reveal her identity or her location.  She terminated the call and would not answer despite multiple attempts to call her back.

Dispatcher Dacey contacted the cell phone carrier so that the woman’s cell phone would reveal her location. Through persistence, Troop A deskman Trooper Corres and Supervisor Sgt. Van Ness were able to re-establish phone contact with the woman and build a rapport that would help identify her and her location.  Upon learning that the woman was located in Troop L’s area, coordination was established with Troop L and ultimately the female was transported to a local hospital where she made a full recovery.

Sgt. Van Ness and Trooper Corres were presented with the Lifesaving Award; Dispatcher Dacey earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.

Sergeant Patrick J. Sweeney and Detective Joseph Bukowski, Troop B    On Nov. 4, 2008, at approximately 8:31 a.m., Sgt. Sweeney was viewing video of the holding cell area of Troop B when he observed the suspect lying underneath the bed in an unusual manner. 

Sgt. Sweeney entered the holding cell area and observed the male attempting to commit suicide by strangulation.  Det. Bukowski assisted Sgt. Sweeney in entering the cell and they cut the makeshift noose off the suspect and immediately pulled him from the area. 

Sgt. Sweeney and Det. Bukowski assessed the vital signs of the male and observed that he was unresponsive to stimuli.  They initiated CPR and shortly afterwards, they detected a pulse and the man began to breathe on his own.  Sgt. Sweeney and Det. Bukowski continued to monitor the male until they were relieved by members of the North Canaan Ambulance who then transported the man to a local hospital, where he made a full recovery. 

            Det. Bukowski and Sgt. Sweeney earned Lifesaving Awards.

Trooper First Class Paul Comesanas – Troop G  On August 22, 2008 at 11:50 a.m., Trooper First Class Paul Comesanas and his K-9, Neo, were attending training when they came across a one-car motor vehicle accident at an intersection in East Haven.

Trooper Comesanas secured the scene and observed that the 46-year-old male operator did not have a pulse and was not breathing.  Trooper Comesanas removed the operator from the vehicle and began CPR.  After several minutes, Trooper Comesanas regained a pulse on the operator and continued rescue breathing until relieved by medical personnel who arrived at the scene.  The operator made a full recovery.

The immediate lifesaving actions of Trooper Comesanas undoubtedly saved the life of the driver.  He earned a Lifesaving Award.

Trooper John Kaufman, Troop G On November 9, 2008, at 2:29 a.m., Trooper Kaufman was dispatched to a report of a burning car on I-91 south in the area of Exit 2 in New Haven.

Upon approaching the scene from the northbound side, Trooper Kaufman observed the burning vehicle on the right shoulder with the operator slumped over the wheel.  Realizing that he did not have enough time to turn around at the next exit before the car would become fully engulfed in flames, Trooper Kaufman pulled his cruiser into the median and sprinted across to the southbound side of the highway. 

There, he observed the male operator unresponsive in the driver’s seat and the car almost fully in flames.  Trooper Kaufman opened the driver’s side door and pulled the operator from the burning vehicle just before it became entirely engulfed in fire.  The operator was transported a local hospital and was later released. Trooper Kaufman’s actions likely saved the life of the driver.  He earned the Lifesaving Award.

Sergeant Patrick J. Sweeney, Trooper First Class  Mark Lauretano, Trooper Jeremy Combes – Troop B   On February 16, 2009, at approximately 12 noon, Troop B received a phone call about a despondent woman who was attempting to commit suicide at her residence in the Town of Salisbury.  Trooper Luretano, Trooper Combes and Sgt. Sweeney were dispatched to the scene.  Upon arrival, the Troopers determined that the woman was inside the residence and had locked all of the entrances to the home to prevent access of first responders.

            Sgt. Sweeney and Trooper Lauretano gained entry by breaking a glass door.  The victim was located in a bedroom in a semi-conscious state.  Trooper Lauretano and Trooper Combes quickly assessed the vital signs and medical concerns of the victim, while Sgt. Sweeney immediately removed a potentially lethal syringe from the woman’s hand.  Salisbury EMS personnel subsequently arrived on scene and transported the woman to a local hospital.

            Sgt. Sweeney, Trooper Lauretano and Trooper Combes earned Lifesaving Awards.

Trooper First Class Thomas Macholl – Troop G   On Labor Day 2008, at 5:56 a.m., Troop G received several 911calls reporting a wrong-way driver traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 in Bridgeport.  The driver of this vehicle caused a crash on I-95 northbound in which a pickup truck swerved to avoid a collision with the wrong-way vehicle.

The wrong-way vehicle continued south in the northbound lanes until it was stopped by Trooper Macholl near exit 21 in the town of Fairfield.  Trooper Macholl placed his cruiser in front of the wrong way vehicle to stop the suspect.  Trooper Macholl did this without causing another collision or inflicting injury.  The accused was taken into custody and charged with driving under the influence and reckless endangerment.

Trooper Macholl earned an Outstanding Service Award.

Sergeant Jeffrey Norkus  - Troop B   On Feb. 23, 2008, at 10:40 p.m., the Watertown Police Department located a stolen motor vehicle which had been taken from Waterbury earlier in the day.  Two individuals were seen running from the vehicle towards Route 8.  Watertown Police requested the assistance of Troop L and surrounding agencies.  Sgt. Norkus responded to the area to help search for the individuals. 

Sgt. Norkus quickly directed personnel from Troop L and Watertown Police to secure the scene and to effectively establish a perimeter.  Sgt. Norkus began to search the residential and wooded areas of Route 262, approximately two miles from the scene.  He immediately located and safely apprehended both wanted subjects who were hiding in the wooded area to further evade police.  Sgt. Norkus received the Outstanding Service Award.

Detective Carmine Verno, Motor Vehicle Fraud Task Force, Dept. of Motor Vehicles    In March 2008, Det. Verno and members of the Motor Vehicle Fraud Task Force became involved in an extensive eight-month investigation of a driving school in Watertown and its 60 satellite offices in Connecticut .

The investigation was conducted with the Dept. of Motor Vehicles following complaints that the school was circumventing DMV regulations by forging hundreds of documents and falsifying records for student drivers. This was done to quickly move the students through the program without proper training or testing, to facilitate a quick turnover of students and to provide a greater financial gain for the school.  Investigators determined that the driving school was also falsifying records related to eye testing and drivers’ training.

The criminal investigation was conducted by the task force with Det. Verno as the primary case investigator.  DMV personnel conducted all of the background research locating the counterfeit and forged documents submitted to the agency. 

During the investigation, there were 19 separate and extensive cases, dozens of interviews and hundreds of pieces of evidence directly handled and processed by Det. Verno. He obtained and executed search & seizure warrants at the business locations of the driving school in May of 2008.  Thousands of business records, as well as many copies of forged and fraudulent documents, were seized. Hundreds of interviews were conducted with employees of the driving school, as well as former students, to obtain statements and information. Det. Verno obtained arrest warrants for the school’s owners/operators and three previous office managers on hundreds of counts of forgery. They were arrested in October of 2008 and ultimately all pled guilty and were convicted.

Det. Verno earned the Outstanding Service Award, members of the Task Force and the DMV earned Unit Citation Awards.

Trooper First Class John Bement, Trooper First Class Daniel Janco – Troop B  On Oct. 30, 2008, Trooper Bement received a complaint from a business owner regarding a roofing scam in New Hartford.  The next day, he received another complaint of a roofing scam from a business owner in Barkhamsted.  The victims of these scams reported significant financial losses adding up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Upon receipt of these complaints, Trooper Bement, along with Trooper Janco, knew through their training and experience that these were not isolated incidents.  Troopers Janco and Bement acted quickly to inform residents of the area about these roofing scams.  Almost immediately, at least 13 other victims came forward and reported that they had also been victimized. 

Troopers Janco and Bement proceeded to collect evidence, conduct extensive interviews and coordinate with various other municipal police agencies.  As their investigation proceeded, they found that these roofing scams were not isolated to the State of Connecticut and required further coordination with other agencies throughout the country.

Troopers Bement and Janco earned Outstanding Service Awards.

Trooper First Class Carlo Marandola, Dispatcher Nancy Martin – Troop G  On Dec. 21, 2008, at 5:20 p.m., Dispatcher Martin received a 911 call from a man in Norwalk who stated that his wife was in labor.  An ambulance was dispatched to the Norwalk residence. 

Dispatcher Martin asked the father-to-be how far apart the mother’s contractions were. The man stated that he and his wife were on the sidewalk in front of their house, the baby’s head was crowning and they could not make it back to the house or to the car.   At this time, Trooper Marandola, deskman at Troop G, got on the phone with the father, while Dispatcher Martin searched a dispatcher’s medical reference manual for information. 

Dispatcher Martin recited childbirth instructions to Trooper Marandola who then recited them to the father.  The wife began to give birth on the sidewalk in the frigid temperatures.  When the father reported that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the infant’s neck, Dispatcher Martin and Trooper Marandola instructed the father on how to unwrap the cord and how to use his fingers to clear the baby’s nose and mouth.  The baby began to breathe and the father wrapped the infant in his coat just as the Norwalk Fire Department arrived.  This 911 call lasted approximately four minutes. 

Mother and baby were transported to a local hospital where they recovered without any medical complications.  The father called Troop G later that evening to thank Dispatcher Martin and Trooper Marandola. 

Trooper Marandola earned an Outstanding Service Award, Dispatcher Martin earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.

State Troopers and Officers from Troop A and the Oxford Resident Trooper’s OfficeIn November 2008, the Oxford Resident Trooper’s Office received several calls regarding items stolen from local houses and other buildings.  With persistence, members of the Oxford Resident Troopers Office identified and arrested the perpetrators, pinpointed the location of the stolen items and petitioned the courts for the early return of each owner’s stolen property from the burglaries. A large quantity of merchandise was recovered with an approximate value of $50,000. 

In all, four men were arrested in these burglaries. The investigation revealed that two of the men worked the burglary crime spree together and acted as lookouts for each other. One of those men was charged with nine burglaries, the other with six.  Two other men were charged with one count each of burglary. 

All members of the Oxford Resident Troopers Office, as well as Oxford Officers, played an active role, each taking calls for service directly related to the burglary spree.  Each Trooper or Officer played a critical role for identifying and apprehending the perpetrators and locating the stolen property of these burglary crime sprees.

The actions of all involved led to the arrest of four suspects and prevented further burglaries in the town of Oxford.  All Troopers and Officers earned the Unit Citation Award.

Michael Poirier and Brendan Pawliszga, Civilians   On Sept. 26, 2008, at 10:15 a.m., the driver of a sedan was traveling on I-95 Northbound, north of exit 33 in Stratford, when he lost control of the vehicle in a heavy rain.  The vehicle skidded from the left lane across all three lanes, impacted the wooden sound barrier in the right shoulder and caught fire. 

Mr. Poirier and Mr. Pawliszga were operating their separate vehicles on I-95 in the same area and witnessed the sedan lose control.  Both Poirier and Pawliszga immediately pulled into the right shoulder to assist the operator.  Poirier and Pawliszga moved toward the burning vehicle and observed the operator still in the driver’s seat.  They attempted to open the vehicle’s doors to pull the operator to safety, but found the doors locked.  The two men broke a window to gain access and, as the vehicle was becoming engulfed in flames, both Poirier and Pawliszga pulled the man from the vehicle. He was later transported to a local hospital for his injuries.

Michael Poirier and Brendan Pawliszga disregarded their own safety to save the life of a complete stranger. They earned the Commissioner’s Recognition Award.