PAWTUCKET — Stopping three people from committing suicide. Solving a three-year-old murder investigation. Catching numerous suspects in violent assaults and armed robberies. Taking high level drug dealers off the city's streets. It's all in a year's work at the Pawtucket Police Department, and on Thursday, a merit awards and memorial ceremony was held to highlight these achievements.
The annual event, held in the city's Municipal Court, also served as a time to commemorate members of the Pawtucket Police Department who were killed in the line of duty, including Officer Samuel Slocum, Officer Charles Patnaude, Det. Lt. Thomas Truesdale, Det. Emil Newberg and Officer Doreen Tomlinson.
This year, members of the family of the late Officer Samuel Slocum were presented with a medal of honor and a plaque by Mayor Donald Grebien and Police Chief Paul King, and a Resolution from the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Slocum, who suffered fatal heart attack 105 years ago while apprehending a suspect involved in a disturbance, was formally recognized this year as having been killed in the line of duty, and his name was engraved on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, the family of the late James E. Brennan, a decorated World War II veteran who served for 34 years on the Pawtucket Police Department and who passed away on Monday at the age of 91, was presented with a House Resolution from the state legislature by Lt. Roberto Dasilva and Detective Raymond Johnston, both state representatives.
Police Chief Paul King said that the yearly event serves as a “memorial to all of our officers.” He said that while the men and women who serve on the police force “do great police work every day, this ceremony recognizes some of the outstanding work we've done throughout the year.”
Mayor Donald Grebien praised the award recipients, saying that their actions “protected the public from armed and dangerous subjects.” The mayor noted that while each of the stories behind the officers' actions is unique, “there is one element they all contain: Our officers work hard every day, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances, for the public they are sworn to serve and protect.”
Lt. Roberto Dasilva, handling the introduction for the ceremony, noted that when he looked at all of the cases outlined in the awards program, it was hard for him to believe that this was all from last year. Yet, he said, this represents only a small sampling of the work done by the Pawtucket Police Department.
Dasilva said this high level of police work should make people of the community proud. He suggested, “Next time you see an officer on the street who has helped you out, or who helped someone you know out, go up to them and say a simple 'thank-you.' It goes a long way to these officers you see here today.”
Merit Awards, presented to officers who perform “in an exceptional manner in an extremely dangerous situation,” were presented to Officers James Baino and Peter Spetelunas, for a helping to capture a male suspect in an Aug. 18, 2010 robbery and car-jacking in which a knife was held to the throat of a female driver. Baino and Spetelunas engaged in a foot chase with the suspect that included running in and out of traffic on I-95 prior to the man's capture.
Also receiving Merit Awards were Detectives Donti Rosciti and David Silva, for positively identifying and apprehending a male suspect wanted for robbing two pizza parlors and a bank in January, 2010.
Commendation Awards, presented to officers who have exhibited “exceptional police work” and whose actions went “beyond their basic assignment,” were given to Officers Norman Valade and Thomas Hayes for their part in trying to stop the suspect in an Aug. 18, 2010 carjacking incident ; Officer Paul Trout for a Dec. 22, 2010 apprehension of an armed robbery suspect; Officers Thomas Vasatka, Shawn Pitts, Craig Allison, Kenneth Dolan, Joseph Altongy and Kenneth Provost for a Dec. 20, 2010 apprehension of man who murdered his wife; Officer Michael Lajoie for an Aug. 30, 2010 capture of a suspect in a shooting; and Sergeant Yuri Wozny for a Sept. 5, 2010 apprehension of a suspect wanted for an armed robbery.
Also receiving Commendation Awards were Sergeant Christopher Dupont and Officers Thomas Vasatka, Shawn Pitts, Craig Allison and Justin Snape for a Feb. 23, 2010 apprehension of an armed domestic violence suspect; Detectives Donti Rosciti and David Silva for an Oct. 10, 2010 capture of two armed suspects wanted for a series of convenience and liquor store robberies; Officers James Baino, John Brown, Michael Cioe, and Nathan Gallison for a May 31, 2010 capture of three suspects wanted for several housebreaks, Officers Emmanuel Mejia and Alias Imondi for a May 15, 2010 apprehension of a suspect that led to other arrests in a home invasion; Officer Justin Gould for a Sept. 29, 2010 capture of an armed man who also possessed crack cocaine; and Sergeant Dino Giorgio, for a July 7, 2010 incident in which he distracted and removed a knife from the hands of a female who was threatening suicide.
Achievement Awards for Excellence, presented to officers who demonstrate “exceptional police work,” were given to Officers Justin Gould and Christopher Polinick for a July 7, 2010 incident in which they disarmed an emotionally disturbed female; Detective Sergeant Richard Stonely and Detective Robert Matook for their work in solving a three-year-old homicide case involving a murdered female that led to the suspect's arrest in 2010; Detective Richard LaForest for the October, 2010 apprehension of two suspects in a shooting at Prospect Heights; Detective Sgt. Robert Winsor and Detectives David Silva, David Connors and Donti Rosciti for the June, 2010 arrest of a suspect in a murder of a female at 17 Rufus St.
Also earning Achievement Awards were Officers James Baino, Detective Robert Brown, Detective Donti Rosciti and Detective David Silva for their work in the fall of 2010 in arresting four suspects in a series of housebreaks; Detectives Charles Devine and Donti Rosciti for the apprehension of a suspect in a July, 2010 carjacking; Officer Mark Ramos for the September, 2010 capture of a suspect in two armed robberies; Officers Michael Tousignant and Craig Allison for the capture of two suspects in a November, 2010 purse-snatching; and Officers Eric Bucka and Craig Allison for the apprehension of two suspects in a January 2010 housebreak.
Additionally receiving Achievement Awards were Officers Paul Trout and Alexander Smith for their intervention in a man's attempted suicide in October, 2010; Detective Robert Brown for his Feb. 23, 2010 processing of fingerprints on a handgun that led to a suspect's arrest; Detectives Charles Devine, Donti Rosciti and Michael McKenna for the October, 2010 apprehension of three bank robbery suspects; Detectives Linda Doucet, Robert Matook and Donti Rosciti for the May, 2010 arrest of a suspect in a robbery and shooting; Sergeant Dennis Lefebvre for work leading to the arrest of four suspects in a series of vandalism in october, 2010; and Detectives Donti Rosciti and David Silva for the February, 2010 apprehension of a suspect in an armed robbery.
Achievement Awards were also given to Officer Christopher Miller for the April, 2010 apprehension of a robbery suspect; Officers Thomas Vasatka and Shawn Pitts for the December, 2010 capture of four suspects in a series of pellet gun incidents involving cars; Officers Michael Tousignant and Craig Allison for the April, 2010 capture of a suspect in a housebreak; and Officers Michael Costigan, Robert Pickett and Theodore Georgistis for a June, 2010, arrest of a female suspect that also netted a large amount of heroin and other illegal drugs.
Also receiving letters of merit in their file were Detective Hans Cute, Detective Rafael Perez, Detective Robert Brown, Sergeant Timothy Graham, Officer Mario Comella, Officer Jess Venturini, Officer Diana McLaughlin, Officer Daniel Dolan, Officer Justin Gould, Officer Carries Hormanski and Officer Herman Pereira.