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Northampton Police Department honors staff for heroics, service

NORTHAMPTON — As Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz neared the end of an awards presentation before the City Council honoring members of his department for their heroics, he paused to collect himself.

“If I get a catch in my throat, you’ll understand why,” Sienkiewicz said Thursday evening.

He then briefly described the actions of more than two dozen staffers — officers, detectives, supervisors, crime-scene services and dispatchers — on Dec. 27, 2009 which he called “one of the darkest nights in Northampton.” That’s when arsonist Anthony Baye went on a fire-setting spree that caused thousands of dollars in property damage and killed two people.

Sienkiewicz lauded dispatchers for the way they handled the “multitude of calls” that night, police officers for their commitment in helping secure the city and supervisors and detectives for their dedication in pursuing a lengthy investigation that ended in Baye’s conviction earlier this year.

“It was unbelievable the things that people did hour after hour after hour over the period of several days,” Sienkiewicz said. “The cohesive and professional work of all involved was both noteworthy and commendable.”

As a result, 27 people were given the department’s unit citation award. That was among the many honors the department bestowed upon its members for saving lives, solving cases and improving the department.

Sienkiewicz said the awards have extra meaning because officers are nominated and reviewed by each other. Even though some of the events occurred months or years ago, the awards are not given until after a successful prosecution. “We don’t take these awards lightly,” he said.

In addition to those honored in the arson case, several other department members received certificates of commendation for their actions in various cases.

Among them was a July 17, 2012, incident at Meadowbrook Apartments, where officers responded to a report of a woman who had been stabbed and a man who was attempting to set the apartment on fire. Officers negotiated with the man and convinced him to come out of a locked bedroom. They also gave medical aid to both people before other personnel arrived.

“Their actions that evening prevented further injury to the victim, as well as other residents living in the building,” Sienkiewicz said.

Commendations for that incident were given to Sgt. Victor Caputo and officers Andrew Carney, Christopher Dumas, Brian Letzeisen and Brett Morgan.

Nine members of the department received commendations resulting from their investigation of a Feb. 2, 2012, robbery at Florence Savings Bank. The suspects were identified and arrested thanks to a combined investigation by the patrol division and the detective bureau.

Those honored are detectives Timothy Satkowski, Corey Robinson and Michael Briggs; Staff Sgt. John Cartledge and Sgt. Alan Borowski; and officers David Netto, Donald Nichols, Thomas Briotta and Brent Dzialo.

Robinson also received a certificate of commendation and a letter of commendation for two cases he helped solve. The first involved a series of robberies at Walgreens pharmacy that led to an arrest. In the course of that investigation, Robinson assisted in solving similar robberies in other communities.

The other award recognized his work in investigating child abuse and sexual exploitation, including conducting sex offender audits.

Eight members received awards for their response to a report last November of a man who barricaded himself in a room armed with a spear. Using verbal commands and defensive tactics, the officers arrested the man with no one getting hurt. Earning commendations were Borowski, Satkowski, and officers Letzeisen, Paul Marguet, Andrew Kohl, Anthony Sotolotto, Joseph Golec and Peter Granitsas.

Kohl also earned a meritorious service award for responding to a car accident in Holyoke while off duty. The vehicle caught fire with three people trapped inside.

“Without concern for his own personal safety, Officer Kohl was able to extricate one of the occupants prior to the arrival of any other emergency response,” Sienkiewicz said.

Sotolotto and Marguet also earned meritorious service awards for a May 2012 response to Florence Heights, where a suicidal woman was armed with a knife. The woman held the knife to her throat several times, but the officers were able to convince her to put it down.

Three officers and two dispatchers received commendations for the way they handled a domestic disturbance in November when several people were armed with weapons. Dispatchers Susan Gilbert and Courtney Cronin were able to make phone contact with one of the armed individuals on the third floor of the building, and they convinced him to put down the weapon and turn himself in. The officers honored were Scott Gregory, Nicholas Demetrion and William Lebrun.

A letter of merit went to Borowski and Lt. Jody Kasper who helped create a fitness room in the new police station during off-duty time. They organized fundraisers, took donations, bought equipment and designed the fitness room.

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