A sheriff’s deputy who faced a mentally unstable man in a tight hallway and talked him into surrendering his knife was among those honored by the Erie County Deputy Sheriffs Badge and Shield Club.
Seventeen employees of the Sheriff’s Office who retired in 2012 also were recognized during the annual banquet, which was held earlier this month in Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Lancaster.
Deputy Christopher Soluri received the William R. Dils Sr. Deputy of the Year Award for his courage in dealing with the suicidal man who confronted him with a large knife Aug. 25 after the deputy had gotten the man’s girlfriend and their baby out of their apartment. After lengthy negotiations, the man emerged unarmed and was taken into custody without further incident.
Four detectives were given the Investigative Services Award for their work in solving the murder of a 21-year-old man July 14 on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. Detectives Jack Graham, Warren Hawthorn, Matt Noecker and Greg McCarthy spent countless hours interviewing suspects and finally got a written confession from the victim’s half brother.
The Patrol Services Division Award was presented to Deputy Scott Kuhlmey, an arson and crime scene investigator.
In addition to his patrol duties, Kuhlmey routinely stays beyond his normal shift and comes in during the middle of the night to assist in arson and other criminal cases.
Deputy Anthony Stabler received the Jail Management Division Award for saving the life of an inmate who had attempted to hang himself from the upper tier of the housing unit. Stabler raced to the location, crawled under the railing and severed the bedsheet.
At the same time, he locked the housing unit down and broadcast over the radio that there was a medical emergency.
Sgt. John Sentz, supervisor of the Family Court Warrants and Child Support Enforcement Unit for the last two years, was given the William Dillemuth Outstanding Service Award. Despite budget cutbacks and personnel reductions, Sentz has exceeded expectations in getting the unit to fulfill its missions.
Susan Zagorski Wilkie received the Administrative Division Award. She transferred from the Jail Management Division to Administrative Services in 2012.
Receiving the Badge and Shield Outstanding Citizen Award was Lori Gramza, of Alden, an Upstate New York Transplant Services volunteer and an activist in raising awareness of the need for organ and tissue donation. Following the death of her 21-year-old son, Andrew, in an accident in 2010, she joined with others to establish Andrew’s Army in his memory. Since its creation, it has collected more than 370 units of blood.
Restaurateur Russell J. Salvatore was presented with the Joseph Wachowiak Outstanding Citizen Award for stepping in to replace one of the Mounted Division’s horses, Buffalo Joe, which died unexpectedly July 12 in an accident en route home from patrol at the Italian Heritage Festival.
Hearing of the misfortune, Salvatore immediately made arrangements with the Sheriff’s Office for a new horse, which was named R.J. in his honor.
Salvatore also placed a horse memorial in front of his restaurant, Russell’s Steaks, Chops and More, to recognize officers who work with animals.
Two retired deputies and a television newsman were given the Alfred D. Genusso Special Service Award.
Deputy Nicholas Sillitto was honored for his longtime service to the Badge and Shield Club as a director, an officer and chairman of club events.
Deputy Karen Morgan was cited for her work as the club’s recording secretary and her faithful attendance at all club meetings and events.
WKBW-TV news anchor Keith Radford was recognized for donating so much time to serve as master of ceremonies for the annual dinner for the last five years.
Retirees included Joseph Schamann, ID clerk and administrator, 40 years; Deputy Brian Cotter, 31 years; Deputy Gary Hajnos, 31 years; Deputy Richard Wolniewicz, 31 years; senior stores clerk Patricia Ann Diebel, 30 years; Deputy Marc Flynn, 30 years; Deputy Donald Kaminski, 30 years; and Lt. Keith Kibler, 30 years.
Also, Lt. Richard O’Donnell of the Scientific Staff, 26 years; Deputy Robert McCleery of the Scientific Staff, 24 years; Correction Officer William Witkowski, 24 years; Deputy David Battaglia, 23 years; Lt. Jacqueline Kretzmon, 23 years; Deputy Robert Giovino, 22 years; Deputy Linda Rosser, 22 years; Deputy Dwayne Jones, 14 years; and Deputy Marilyn Weichmann, 10 years.