NIAGARA FALLS – Members of the Niagara Falls Police Department, who usually patrol the streets with little fanfare and recognition, were honored Wednesday at a ceremony in City Hall.
Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto said after the ceremony, “It’s important to recognize the officers for their actions. Some are putting their lives in danger to protect our community.”
A crowd of 100 family members and friends gave a standing ovation to Detective Patricia McCune, winner of the “Chief’s Award.” She retired at the end of February, after 26 years with the department, to take a job with the state attorney general’s sex offender management bureau. McCune had been the longest-serving detective in Niagara Falls, specializing in sex abuse and homicide cases, and had been assigned to the Child Abuse Task Force since its inception in 1990.
McCune said, “I loved my career with the City of Niagara Falls Police Department. It was a childhood dream. I always wanted to be a police officer. We have the best Police Department in this country. I am very honored by the award. The Police Department is like my family.”
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, City Administrator Donna D. Owens and Niagara County District Attorney Michael J. Violante were on hand to congratulate the officers but were also singled out for their support of the department with a Chief’s Point Medal.
Other award winners:
• Leo Maj Memorial Award, to a uniformed officer for overall commitment to excellence and duty, community and family: Officer Shaun Bielec, who was described as a team player who takes the time to prepare and encourage recruits.
• Distinguished Junior Officer Award: Officer Shawn Watson, who was honored for his diligence and enthusiasm. The award was presented in memory of Aram Bass, a soldier who gave his life in 2005 in Operation Iraqi Freedom and had aspirations of becoming a police officer. He was the son of Niagara Falls dispatcher Deborah Johnson.
• William J. Gee Memorial Award: Officer Paul Warmington, a member of the department for more than 10 years who was honored for his knowledge of the city’s troubled areas and for initiating multiple investigations and being proactive on patrol.
• Outstanding Detective Award: Detective Thomas Ewing, who has been part of a number of high-profile cases and was described as hard-working, tenacious, with an unyielding desire to apprehend suspects and an unrelenting approach to interrogations.
• Distinguished Volunteer Service Award: Officer Thomas Arist, a member of the department’s emergency response team. Arist donates much of his time organizing the annual charity hockey games between the Police and Fire departments.
• Life Saving Medal: Officer Scott Bax, for attempting to resuscitate an unresponsive male on Jan. 18, 2013, and also calm the man’s family.
• Gallantry Star: Detective Patrick Stack, for his skill in closing a shooting case and seizing a quantity of guns on March 26; Officers Thomas Arist and Jeffrey Grzeskowiak for their actions controlling a case Oct. 7 that involved a disturbed individual wielding a knife.
Unit citation medals for teams that protect life or property under combat conditions were given to: Lt. J. Michael Corcoran and Officers Marcia Gee, Richard Fleck, Kevin Maluchnik, Theodore Weed Jr., Raymond Folmar, Thomas Rutkowski, Daniel Haney, Philip Tripi, Walter Nichols, Danny Pierini, Wayne General, Shawn Watson and Kristopher Proietti.