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Buffalo Police Benevolent Association Awards Ball singles out nine for special honors

Seven officers and two civilians will receive special honors as the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association holds its annual PBA Awards Ball on Friday evening in Hyatt Regency Buffalo.

The PBA Heroism Award will be presented to Officers Joseph Donovan and Jeffrey Jajkowski. Donovan jumped into Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park last Sept. 28 to save a woman who was attempting to drown herself after she refused to grab hold of a life preserver. Jajkowski successfully pulled both of them to shore. They also were cited as Officers of the Month.

The Norm Appleford Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Officer Santos “Sam” Diaz. An officer for more than 30 years, he has been a member of the SWAT team for more than 15 years.

The Detective George Dougherty Award will go to Detective Salvatore Valvo, who recently retired after 26 years with the Police Department. During the past 15 years, he was a narcotics detective assigned to the Drug Enforcement Agency and a homicide detective. He continues to serve as an investigator with the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.

The George Howe Leadership Award will be presented to Capt. Mark Maraschiello. As commander of the SWAT team, he helped it become one of the leading specialized police units on the East Coast. Currently in charge of the Investigative Service Division, he supervises the narcotics and intelligence units.

The Presidential Award of Merit will be given to Officers Michael Acquino and Mark Hamilton. Partners in the Strike Force Unit, they are credited with seizing more than 47 illegal guns during 2014.

The Officer William Rieman Citizen Award will go to Kevin Melvin, a security officer who assisted police in capturing a man suspected of having a gun and then found a loaded pistol that the man discarded during a chase.

The Detective Sgt. Joseph Nigrelli Service Award will be given to Tina Hauth, who has provided dedicated service to the PBA for 13 years. She edits its newspaper, the Blue Line, and helps set up all PBA-sponsored events.

Honored as Officers of the Month will be:

January 2014 – Officers Michael Coppola and Joseph Nigro, D District, who arrested three suspects in the beating and robbery of a cab driver.

February 2014 – Officers Melanie Neureuther, Derrick Banaszak, Daniel Owczarczak and Joseph Wendel, E District, who answered a robbery call that led to the arrest of five suspects and the seizure of a large quantity of narcotics and a loaded handgun.

March 2014 – Detective Molly Sanford and Officers Sollie Boone and Alan Ortiz, E District. Working without a usable photo, Sanford identified a suspect in two bank robberies, secured a search warrant, then worked with Boone and Ortiz to locate and arrest him.

April 2014 – Officers James Hacker and Anthony Figueroa, D District, who answered a call about suspicious people banging on the door of a residence and averted a home invasion by arresting an armed suspect.

May 2014 – Officers Joshua Heidinger, Patrick Overdorf, Michael Scheu and Mark Goodspeed, C District, who chased down and arrested armed suspects after a violent home invasion.

June 2014 – Officers John Simonian and Ronald Clark, C District, who captured suspects in a double shooting after pursuing them by car and on foot.

July 2014 – Officers Michael Haas and Nicholas Poblocki, C District, who captured suspects with loaded handguns after chasing them down by car and on foot following a pair of armed robberies.

August 2014 – Lt. Mary Hanley and Officer Mark Andrzejak, D District, who located the suspect in an armed robbery and arrested him after subduing him in a fight as he attempted to flee.

September 2014 – Officers Zackary Burgess and Aaron Borczynski, C District, for quickly arresting an armed and uncooperative suspect without incident after answering a call of shots fired.

October 2014 – Officers Ronald Clark, Andrew Shea and Vincent Judge, C District, who chased down three suspects and arrested three more following an attempted abduction.

November 2014 – Officer Richard Lopez and Detective Mark White, C District, who tracked down a suspect Lopez recognized from a surveillance video following an armed robbery at a convenience store.

December 2014 – Officers James Hacker and Steven Maslowski, D District, who found a missing elderly man with dementia, saving his life, after an exhaustive search on a bitterly cold night.