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CEREMONY HONORS OFFICERS FOR HEROISM

The shootout that left a 20-year-old woman critically wounded a day earlier hung like a dark cloud over an awards ceremony Friday for 17 Buffalo police officers and one civilian.

Three detectives, 14 police officers and one New York State corrections officer all were given Mayor's Awards for heroic acts.

But the dignitaries also took time to convey their sadness about the police shootout Thursday morning that left Amber Keller critically wounded.

"Today is kind of bittersweet for me," Mayor Anthony M. Masiello told the audience in police headquarters. "It's bitter, because it happened, because it should not have happened."

Police Commissioner Rocco J. Diina looked over at the group of honored officers and told the crowd, "There would be many more stories like that if it weren't for the work of these individuals."

In one case, last March, Officer Joseph F. Ledwin of the Ferry-Fillmore District confronted a driver wearing a bulletproof vest, who dragged the officer 60 feet with his vehicle, then tried to run him down before Ledwin jumped out of the way and fired two shots that flattened a tire.

Ledwin later gave chase in his patrol car, before the suspect's vehicle struck a utility pole. He and other officers then apprehended the man and an armed companion.

One officer, James Panus of the Northeast District, was honored for two different incidents that resulted in the arrests of armed suspects.

Other award winners were Detectives Michael D. Judge, Edward C. Niemann and Salvatore A. Valvo; Officers Thomas P. Cino, Johnathan E. Clemons, Michael J. Divito, Joseph Doxbeck, Michael A. Eason, Tina L. Ferraro, Nathan L. Goldsmith, Franklyn E. King, Earl E. Perrin Jr., Anthony J.H. Sisti, Ralph Skinner and Mark G. White; and corrections officer Michael Rybczynski.

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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