LAWRENCE: Nine police officers are honored

Their job description is to serve and protect Lawrence Township, but last week, nine police officers were the ones being served — with thanks from Township Council.

By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
   Their job description is to serve and protect Lawrence Township, but last week, nine police officers were the ones being served — with thanks from Township Council.
   Nine civilians also were honored by Township Council at its May 21 meeting for their actions in helping the police to solve crimes and save lives. (See related story, page A8.)
   Mayor Jim Kownacki and Chief of Police Daniel Posluszny handed out resolutions honoring the police officers at the meeting in connection with National Police Week, which was May 12-18. The honorees are nominated and a special committee made up of police officers chooses the winners.
   The Police Department’s Commendable Service Awards were given to Detectives David E. Burns II and Kevin M. Reading Jr., Sgt. Joseph S. Lech IV, and Police Officers Daniel H. Gladney, Mark S. Harmon, James Larkin Jr., Andres Mejia and Robert Wagner.
   Detective Burns as recognized for his role in capturing a suspected shoplifter at the CVS Pharmacy at 1900 Brunswick Pike on Sept. 2, 2012. He was conducting a drunken driving enforcement patrol when he heard the Police Department dispatcher issue a call about the theft.
   Detective Burns drove to the scene and saw the man removing some items from underneath his clothing and tried to stop him. The man fled on foot across Brunswick Pike, with Detective Burns in pursuit. With the help of two civilians, he was able to catch the shoplifter.
   Sgt. Lech and Officers Larkin, Mejia and Wagner were each given a Commendable Service Award for breaking up a multi-state motorcycle theft ring that also involved selling motorcycle parts on the Internet.
   The four police officers responded to the Avalon Run rental apartment complex on Jan. 24, 2013, in response to a report that two men were stealing wheels from a car that was parked in a carport. The thieves were jacking up the parked car in order to move it, so they could steal a motorcycle that was parked next to it.
   Sgt. Lech coordinated the police officers’ response to the call, including contacting the West Windsor and Hamilton police departments for help in case the suspects fled. The AvalonBay development is located on Quakerbridge Road, near the West Windsor and Hamilton borders.
   Officers Wagner and Mejia approached the men in the carport and identified themselves as police officers. The suspects fled on foot, but Officer Mejia — with the help of a West Windsor Township police officer — captured one of the suspects after a brief foot chase.
   Officer Wagner chased the other suspect and gave his direction of flight to the other responding police officers. Sgt. Lech and Officer Larkin caught the man on the opposite side of the apartment complex before he could run into the woods.
   Detective Reading was given a Commendable Service Award for helping to solve a series of pharmacy robberies in Lawrence and Hamilton townships last year. He began to identify a pattern of such robberies, including one in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
   Detective Reading traveled to Dutchess County, N.Y., to interview a possible suspect who had ties to Lawrence Township. The suspect confessed to the Lawrence and Hamilton pharmacy robberies. A search warrant for the suspect’s home in Lawrence revealed additional evidence linking him to more crimes.
   Officer Gladney received a Commendable Service Award for single-handedly capturing a man who had entered a car and stolen items from it — and who was a suspect in numerous other burglaries in Lawrence — while he was on patrol on Oct. 26, 2012, on Irwin Place.
   Officer Gladney noticed a parked car with its interior light on, and also found a bicycle lying on the ground nearby. When he checked on the car, he found the door was ajar and someone had rummaged through it.
   Officer Gladney checked a second car that was parked in the same driveway, and discovered the suspect inside the car. He confronted the man and ordered him out of the car. He took the man into custody, and found that he had some stolen items in his possession.
   But Township Council was not quite finished with honoring Officer Gladney.
   Officer Gladney and Officer Joseph Radlinsky received the Meritorious Service Award for their role in heading off an armed robbery at the AT&T store on Princeton Avenue on March 28, 2013.
   ”This happens once in a (police officer’s) career. I can never remember an armed robbery being interrupted like that. It shows dedication by the two officers, and it was just an outstanding job,” Chief Poslusnzy said as he described the incident and the officers’ response to it.
   The two men who were apprehended had attempted to break into the store a few days earlier. Officer Radlinsky was conducting surveillance on the store on March 28 when he saw a car being parked on a nearby street. He saw two men carrying backpacks walking from the car to the rear of the store.
   Officer Radlinsky realized they matched the description of the suspects in the earlier incident, and he called for backup. He confronted the men and tried to stop them himself, but they fled on foot. Police officers caught one of the suspects, and also recovered a backpack they had discarded and that was found to contain a semi-automatic handgun.
   Officer Gladney was on his way back to the Police Department, after police failed to capture the second suspect. He noticed a man driving a car that matched the description of the second suspect. He stopped the car and ordered the man to get out of the car. He took the man into custody.
   Finally, Township Council honored Officer Harmon for his skills as an evidence technician with the Police Department. In the 10 years that he has served in that function, Officer Harmon’s work led to a total of 10 latent fingerprint submissions that resulted in identifying numerous suspects involved in robberies, burglaries, drug distribution and theft.