In the start of a new tradition, the Matawan police department recognized several of its officers for their outstanding service and dedication with actions taken while in the line of duty, and while off duty, too.
“What we have tonight is a small segment of our new awards and recognition program,” Chief Jason Gallo said at the Borough Council’s Dec. 15 meeting, where the awards were handed out. “It is a program that is long overdue and … this evening we’ll be recognizing a few officers, some within the program and a couple outside the program’s parameters, for some of the great work that they have done, whether on or off duty.”
Before going into the presentation of awards, the department recognized the retirement of long-time member Joseph Dizwil, who began his career in 1987 in Colts Neck, before coming to the borough in 1989 — where he has spent almost 27 years on the force.
“He’s been through a lot, he’s seen a lot … but all I can say is he had an awesome career, met a lot of nice people and certainly made an impact on the community,” Gallo said. “So we thank him for his service and what he’s done.
The first two awards that were presented, Gallo said, fell outside of the parameters of the new awards and recognition program, but he said he would be remiss if the two officers weren’t recognized.
Ptl. Joseph Mason was recognized with a certificate in recognition of his outstanding performance in the field of narcotics enforcement.
“Joe came here in the end of March from another agency and has excelled far beyond what we expected from him, specifically with regards to narcotics enforcement,” Gallo said. “Joe has made … countless arrests for heroin and other serious narcotics and weapons offenses … and I congratulate him for doing this and thank him for his dedication and hard work.”
Det. Joseph Lovallo was recognized for the hard work and dedication he has brought to his current position within the department’s detective division. “Det. Joseph Lovallo has been here for quite some time and is … one of our most proactive people on the street that we have,” Gallo said.
“Again with the recent spike of heroine use in this town, Joe has been instrumental in many of the arrests, search warrants and convictions … working not only with county, state and federal agencies, but has even gone outside, working with agencies overseas. So I congratulate him for all of his hard work and appreciate everything that he does.”
Awards were presented for actions taken while on or off-duty in 2015 and even went back as far as 2011, when Gallo began his tenure as chief.
Several officers were presented with the Meritorious Service Award.
“It is awarded for a highly unusual accomplishment under adverse conditions with some degree of hazard to life and limb to the nominee or where death or injury to a third party is prevented,” Lt. Thomas J. Falco said.
Ptl. Andrew Marsala received the award for his efforts and assistance on Sept. 30, 2012 when, while off duty, he received a call for assistance from on-duty personnel regarding an armed suicidal subject who had barricaded himself inside his Ravine Drive apartment.
“Without hesitation Ptl. Marsala reported for duty,” Falco said. Securing the wife and son of the subject and gathering information, Marsala was able to diffuse the situation without harm coming to any fellow officers or citizens.
“After speaking with Ptl. Marsala for some time and gaining his trust, the accused came out the front door of his apartment with his hands in the air and was taken into custody without incident,” Falco said.
Ptl. Jeffrey Bodner received the award for his quick efforts on Aug. 4, 2013, when he responded to the Matawan-Aberdeen Train Station on a report of a pedestrian struck by a train.
“Upon arrival, officers discovered a female victim had been struck and was trapped under the eastbound New York City Train,” Falco said. “Ptl. Bodner … immediately collected the life-saving equipment [and] without regard for his own safety and well being, climbed under several railroad cars while the locomotive was still running and initiated treatment to the victim in an attempt to save her life.”
Ptl. Eric Andersen and Lt. Thomas J. Falco received the Meritorious Service Award for efforts on Dec. 4, investigating the report of a male subject in front of a residence who was believed to have a gun and known to have an unstable mental status.
Life-Saving awards were also presented to several officers.
“The Life-Saving Award is awarded to an officer for an outstanding act where the actions taken were directly related to the saving of a life,” Falco said.
Sgt. Christopher Stark and Det. Jonathan Borsari received the award for saving a woman’s life on May 7, 2014 at the Brass Rail Bar & Grill after a bay leaf got lodged in her airways.
“Her condition rapidly deteriorated,” Falco said. “Due to the switch actions of Sgt.. Stark and Det. Borsari the patient started to show signs of life. Her color slowly returned to normal and she regained consciousness and was able to breathe on her own [and] although not having any recollection of the incident, she appeared in good health.”
On Aug.1, 2014, Ptl. Eric Budelmann responded to a Middlesex Road residence to assist a dehydrated elderly female, but upon arrival, it was found that the victim was having a more serious medical episode.
“While treating the victim her health began to rapidly deteriorate to the point that Ptl. Budelmann initiated rescued breathing,” Falco said. “MONOC paramedics and EMS credit the swift actions of Ptl. Budelmann to saving the life of the victim.”
The final award of the night was presented to Ptl. Charles Henry, who was honored with the Police Officer of the Year award.
“Since beginning his full-time law enforcement career with the Matawan Police Department in January 2014, Ptl. Charles Henry has excelled in all facets of the job,” Falco said. “His many fine attributes have contributed to his exemplary performance during the past year … and he always represents the department and the borough well … and serves as a role model for many local children.”
“The Matawan Police Departments intention, is to utilize the awards and decorations to publicly reward and recognize extraordinary, exceptionally meritorious or conspicuously outstanding acts of heroism or other service,” Falco said.
“It is our goal to bring attention to actions that are above and beyond those normally expected and that distinguish the individual or units from others performing similar acts of service.”