Twenty-five deputies, reserve deputies, administrative employees and citizens were honored for heroism and their contributions to the community Saturday evening by the Erie County Sheriff's Department and the Badge and Shield Club.
The 21st annual Erie County Deputy Sheriff's Office Badge and Shield Club's Retirement and Awards Dinner Dance was held in the Radisson Hotel and Suites in Cheektowaga.
The Robert S. Insalaco Youth Award was presented to Eric Chruscicki, 17, of Angola.
Eric took control of a car when a friend began to slip into a diabetic coma. He guided the car to his home and called 911 for help. His friend was taken to a hospital and has fully recovered.
Six members of the Erie County Holding Center Accreditation team shared the William M. Dillemuth Outstanding Service Award for gaining New York State Sheriffs' Association certification for the Holding Center last year. They ensured that the facility met 38 Commission of Correction standards and 166 Sheriffs' Association standards.
The team members are Superintendent Robert Koch of the Town of Hamburg, Acting Assistant Superintendent Thomas Vaughn of Cheektowaga, Deputy Theresa Baggott of West Seneca, Deputy Joseph Higgins of Cheektowaga, Deputy Judi Lips of Derby and Holding Center Nurse Judith Watson.
The Joseph J. Wachowiak Outstanding Citizen Award went to Joseph M. Long of Buffalo, who summoned officers to the scene of an attempted murder last Oct. 16 on Route 20A in the Town of Wales.
Long stopped his vehicle for a woman waving her arms and calling for help, then discovered that she had been shot and wounded by her husband.
While Long was attempting to control the bleeding, the husband drove a car at him and the woman, who both dove into a ditch. The husband then fired shots at both of them. Long escaped and called 911. The husband killed himself shortly after deputies arrived.
Deputies Joseph Gallo of Cheektowaga, Steve Meerboth of Concord and Delphine Sharry received the William G. Payne Police Services Division Award for their efforts in apprehending a suspect in a rape at the Sheriff's Department firing range in Concord last Aug. 10, and then obtaining evidence.
Gallo, called to the scene, observed the crime and chased a suspect into a ravine, then attended to the 16-year-old victim. When Meerboth arrived, he and Gallo caught the suspect after a struggle. Ms. Sharry calmed the victim at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital and obtained her cooperation so that evidence could be collected.
Deputies Jeffrey Parker of Cheektowaga and Kathleen McLaughlin and Wallace Waliczek, both of Depew, received the Holding Center Division Award for saving the life of a Holding Center inmate who attempted to commit suicide last Oct. 3 by slashing his arms with a piece of a sink he had broken off from a wall.
The Civil Division Award went to Deputy J. Charles Russo of Williamsville for his dedication and professionalism in serving and executing a wide variety of Civil Court processes and orders, including a number of dangerous repossessions and evictions. He was praised especially for his rapport with the government of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
Lt. Charles Kaiser, supervisor of deputies in the Court Division, received the Court Division Award for his careful handling of several high-profile, emotionally charged court cases during the past year so that no breach of security, disruption of court decorum or injury occurred.
The Investigative Services Award went to Det. Paul Czamara of the Town of Alden for leading the investigation of a mysterious fatal house fire in Brant last June 14 that took the life of the wife of a Sheriff's Patrol Sergeant, who went back inside to save her pets. An exhaustive probe determined that the probable cause was a wiring harness in a patrol car parked inside a garage.
The Administrative Services Award went to Donna Jusiak of Cheektowaga, a member of the Administrative Services Division for 13 years. She was cited for her handling of a greatly increased number of hirings and transfers during the past year.
Wanda Cornell of the Town of Tonawanda, who operates the switchboard and intercom at the Sheriff's Patrol Headquarters in Orchard Park, received the Support Services Award. She also types correspondence for several commanders and manages court notes. She was cited for her cheerfulness and for never being late, even in bad weather.
The Part-Time Employee Award went to Elaine Medina of the Town of Hamburg. Responsible for the Court Division payroll, she also answers the telephone switchboard at 10 Delaware Ave. and has assumed many other tasks due to downsizing.
Paul Evans of the Village of Akron, who retired in 1996 after 23 years with the sheriff's office, received the Retired Deputy Award in recognition of his service to retired deputies and for running a golf tournament that raised $4,000 and benefited the Sudden Infant Death Foundation.
The Badge and Shield Special Services Award was presented to Deputy James Coyle of Eden, Sgt. Thomas Rich of Buffalo and Sgt. Sal Zagarrigo of Cheektowaga who were cited for their many hours of volunteer work on various Badge and Shield Club activities and fund-raisers.
Reserve Deputy William C. Rogers of Angola received the E. James Graczyk Reserve Division Award for apprehending two men he saw smashing cars into one another in a parking lot last September while he was on horseback patrol in Buffalo's Theater District.
The 1996 Sheriff's Department retirees, in addition to Sheriff Thomas F. Higgins who retired after 21 years in the department, are:
Albert R. Abbotoy of Buffalo, 15 years service, a laborer at the Holding Center; Carl E. Brooks of the Town of Lancaster, 30 years, deputy in Police Services; Will Brown of Buffalo, 11 1/2 years, assistant superintendent of the Holding Center.
Also, Robert Campanile of Buffalo, 26 years, deputy in Administrative Services; Peter R. Chapin of the Town of Hamburg, 12 years, deputy in the Holding Center; Margaret E. Cummings of Buffalo, 31 1/2 years, clerk in the Civil Division.
Also, John J. Dray of the City of Tonawanda, 29 years, superintendent of the Holding Center; Edward J. Joswiak of Cheektowaga, 31 1/2 years, deputy in Police Services.
Also, Joseph P. Kane of Angola, 34 years, captain in Police Services; Katie B. Lewis of Buffalo, 30 1/2 years, deputy in the Holding Center; Gerald H. Mack of Amherst, 31 1/2 years, undersheriff.
Also, Joann Nanni of Cheektowaga, 19 years, welfare warrants clerk; James W. Patton of Buffalo, 26 1/2 years; technical sergeant in Administrative Services; Henry Potter of Cheektowaga, 27 years; deputy in the Holding Center.
Also, Leonard J. Postek of Buffalo, 34 1/2 years, deputy in the Holding Center; James E. Price of Cheektowaga, 12 years, dispatcher in Police Services; Carol A. Roth of Cheektowaga, 28 years, secretary in Administrative Services.
Also, Patricia A. Siracuse of Williamsville, 30 years, domestic violence coordinator in Investigative Services; Edward A. Sobczyk of the Town of Hamburg, 25 1/2 years, assistant superintendent of the Holding Center; Norma Streer of Buffalo, 10 1/2 years, clerk in Administrative Services.
Also, Jeffrey J. Stribing of the Village of Lancaster, 20 years, deputy in the Holding Center; Joseph E. Suminski of Cheektowaga, 27 years, detective in Police Services; Robert P. Vaughan of the Town of Hamburg, 25 1/2 years, deputy in the Courts Division.
Recognition also will be given to two deceased officers, Karen A. Anderson of Amherst, 20 years, a deputy in Police Services, and Glenn R. Mayne of Kenmore, 30 years, a detective in Investigative Services.