The Allentown Police Department honored 51 officers at a commendation and awards presentation ceremony and memorial service this morning at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. Fifteen of the 51 officers were recognized for either valor, bravery or heroism.
The event was held to mark National Police Week. The department also honored other residents and businesses for their contributions or donations and elementary school student safety officers.
The event concluded with Mayor Ray O’Connell, Police Chief Tony Alsleben and Allentown Fraternal Order of Police President Officer Scott Snyder laying a wreath in front of the Scottish Rite Cathedral to honor deceased officers.
O’Connell told the audience, “We gratefully call attention to the dedication of our officers, and we extend our most sincere thanks to our officers, who put their lives on the line each and every day to create a safer environment for all of us to live. We also are pleased to recognize the civilians of our city, who sometimes have risked their own personal safety to join with the police in making Allentown safer.”
Officers Chad Mertz Jason Aduddell, Jack Dewalt, and Michael Vernotica received commendations for valor for their May 2017 West End confrontation with a suspect who had shot a drug store clerk during a robbery in Whitehall Township. After ramming Officer Mertz’s police cruiser with his pick-up truck, the suspect pointed a gun at the officers who then fired killing the suspect.
Officer Christopher Stephenson received a commendation for bravery in connection with the same incident.
Communications Center Dispatchers Nicole Kopec, Rahkeem Shannon, Lee Herpel, Aubrie Hoag, and Kyle Mertl were also recognized for their keen observation as well as their calm, reassuring voice on the radio during the extremely chaotic event.
The First Platoon was honored with the Chief’s Award for its outstanding response to the incident.
Detective Joshua Baker and Office Jason Ammary and New York City Detective Kevin Brady received commendations for bravery for their discovery in the 100 block of Chew Street and attempted apprehension of a New York City attempted homicide suspect. The suspect fled in a vehicle at a high rate of speed striking several parked cars. The suspect eventually fled on foot and was apprehended by other officers.
Sergeant Edward Fitzsimmons and Officer John Turoczi, who joined in the vehicle chase, received commendations for merit.
K-9 Officer Jonathan Smith and Sergeant Andrew Moll were honored with commendations for bravery for their apprehension of an armed robbery suspect in the 1400 block of Tilghman Street this past February.
Detective Andrew Hackman was awarded a commendation for bravery for a confrontation with an armed homicide suspect outside Club Dubai in March. The suspect fled the scene in a vehicle, but was later apprehended and charged. Detective Almaury Almonte, who rendered aid to a shooting victim, and officers Christopher Matthews and Scot Walz, who were also on the scene, and Detective Evan Weaver, whose intelligence gathering led to locating the suspect’s vehicle, received commendations for merit.
Sergeant Keith Heffner earned a commendation for bravery for apprehending a man now charged with a fatal knife attack in September 2017. Heffner was attempting to render aid to the victim when he noticed the attacker standing just three feet away with the knife. Heffner tackled the man and other officers assisted getting him in handcuffs.
Sergeants Peter McAfee and Christopher Hendricks and officers Harold Bonser and Patrick Bull received commendations for heroism for their revival of a June 2017, 12-year-old near-drowning victim. The child had no pulse when officers arrived. After a week in the hospital, the girl has made a complete recovery. Civilians Christopher Torres, Miguel Cruz and Bryan Cedeno were also recognized for pulling the victim out of the water.
Two Commendations for Merit were awarded to Officer Alexander Komatick and Officer David Clouser. Commendations for merit were also awarded to Captain Charles Roca, Sergeant McAfee and Sergeant Robert Flores, detectives Robert Busch and Stephen Fiorillo, and officers Aduddell, Matthews, Vernotica, Brian Best, Yamil Castillo, Thurman D’Argenio, Adam Dennis, Benjamin Iobst, Ryan Koons, Ryan Lischke, Jamil Newsome, Adam Sinton and Jeffrey Tanner.
Commendations for Achievement were awarded to sergeants McAfee, Kyle Hough and Karl Kozlowski and officers Bonser, Bull, Clouser, Komatick, Newsome, Sinton, Tanner, Douglas Bauer, Zachary Bubnis, Corey Cole, Victor Diaz-Gonzalez, Joshua Faust, Michael Good, Robbie Gruver, Theodore Kiskeravage, Joseph Krebs, Walter Oquendo and John Tamburello.
Officer Craig Berger received a Commendation for Achievement for his 63 DUI arrests in the city.
Civilian Jevon Moore was honored for calling 911 and following suspects involved in an armed robbery on Lehigh Street in March of last year. Moore kept the suspects in sight until police arrived and made an arrest.
Allentown Communications Center dispatcher Matthew Haedrich was commended for his quick and skillful camera work, which led officers to the location and arrest of an armed and dangerous July 2017 armed robbery suspect.
Allentown EMS Paramedics Bryan Fritz, Mehmet Barzev and Tyler Bard were feted for rendering aid to a person who had attempted suicide and fought them as they attempted to treat his wounds.
The department also recognized contributions of items, materials or funds made by businesses, organizations and individuals including Iron Falcon Martial Arts, Indian American Association of Lehigh Valley, United Check Cashing, Allentown Pharmacy, Packaging Corp of America, Mosser Elementary Student Activities, Patt Infanti and Roger Bacon.
Thirteen students were honored as School Safety Patrol of the Year award winners. They are: Yohanna Hernandez-Reyes of Central Elementary, Alexis Gilleo of Cleveland Elementary, Lila Garcia of Hiram Dodd Elementary, Landon Jacob Soto of Jefferson Elementary, Isaiah Davis of Lehigh Parkway Elementary, Casey Brunner of Mosser Elementary, Karla Medina of Muhlenberg Elementary, Yaniameliz Acosta Antuna of Luis A. Ramos Elementary, James Yacoub of Ritter Elementary, Jayla Ariles of Roosevelt Elementary, Margarita Cuadrado of Sheridan Elementary, Isabella Vega of Union Terrace Elementary and Emily Pacheco of Washington Elementary.