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Long Branch Police Awarded for 'Exceptional Duty'

LONG BRANCH: In the several minutes before the Dec.23 City Council meeting Director of Public Safety Director Jason Roebuck thanked the governing body for allowing time for his presentation of award to several police officers for their "exceptional duty" in three incidents that had occurred during the year requiring exemplary police personnel performances.

The first incident occurred on Feb. 22 at 3:40 a.m. when police received a report of shots fired near 115 Rockwell Ave. The report said persons left the area in a dark colored SUV, which led to Police Officer Sun Yoo to stop a vehicle matching that description. Corporal Edward Gomez backed up on the case.

P.O. Yoo learned that one of the (car's) occupants was lying to him, and asked him to step out of the vehicle.

"When he did so Officer Yoo observed a handgun under the driver's seat," said Roebuck. "Officer Gomez located a second handgun in the vehicle after the occupants were under arrest."

At five minutes past midnight on June 20, Officer Richard O'Brien stopped a man on foot who he had observed placing something in his waistband. The man got into a fight with O'Brien and during the fight a .44 caliber handgun fell to the round. After retrieving the handgun, the officer gave chase and was assisted by other officers on that shift who caught the suspect, Roebuck said.

In the third incident, on Nov. 15 police headquarters received a call about a man with a gun at 279 Liberty St. The man had apparently shot at a pickup truck belonging to his employer on Fourth Avenue and the victim followed (him) to Liberty Street, Roebuck said. He added that two men walked into the multi-unit building, one carrying the rifle that was used to shoot at the truck.

The police afternoon shift responded in force, including the Street Crimes unit, the Detective Bureau and UEZ officers.

They did an outstanding job of containing the threat, securing the perimeter and then negotiating with the suspects, even though at one point the rifle was being aimed at them, Roebuck said. The SWAT team was called in but the suspects surrendered peacefully. The rifle and another weapon were located as well, the Director reported.

The Director said the awards addressing these incidents were scheduled long before the other news events in other parts of the country that have occurred lately, including the New York incident last Saturday. He thanked the Council for providing the time on the agenda of the meeting to make the timely awards for and the awards the community and its governing body appreciate the work of the city police. He said for those who do not chose to support law enforcement those person might "first walk a mile in their shoes" before condemning any officer anywhere.

As the meeting itself was called to order, Council President Michael Sirianni thanked the officers and reminded all of Roebuck's remarks about "walking a mile in their shoes."

Mayor Adam Schneider joined Director Roebuck in presenting the awards individually to each officer: Lt. Craig Spencer; DLt. Jeffrey Grippaldi; Sgt. Brendan Cahill; Sgt. Antonia Gonzalez; Cpl. Edwin Gomez; Cpl. Juan H. Vasquez; Det. Michael Verdadeiro; Det. Richard O'Brien; P.O. Christopher Gant; P.O. Kimberly Leavy; P.O. Stanley Eskridge, P.O. Sam Yoo; P.O. Joshua Wagner; P.O Hector Umana; P.O. Joseph Kennedy; P.O. Robert Bell; P.O. Nicholas Romano; P.O. Gary Vecchione; P.O. Jake Pascucci; S.O. Giovanni Rodriguez; S.O. Jon Edwards; Dispatcher Daniel Flannigan. Some of the officers were on duty or otherwise not available for the awards to be presented at the ceremony.

Read more from: Long Branch

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