Director of Public Information
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II commended and recognized 28 individuals and one Division unit for bravery, investigative persistence, police education, traffic safety, community service and overall exceptional contributions at the New York State Police Annual Awards Day Ceremony.
The 41st annual ceremony, held at the New York State Police Academy paid tribute to the courage and perseverance of employees and sworn members of the agency.
Today’s awards ceremony immediately followed the State Police’s Annual Memorial
Day Service to honor the memory and service of deceased members of the State Police.
In 2016, the State Police lost Senior Investigator Paul R. Stuewer and Trooper Timothy P. Pratt. Senior Investigator Stuewer died October 5, 2016, from cancer stemming from his assignment to the World Trade Center Site, following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011. Trooper Pratt was killed on October 26, 2016, when he was struck by a passing vehicle while assisting another motorist in Saratoga County.
The name of Trooper Covel C. Pierce was also added to the New York State Police Officers Memorial and the National Memorial in Washington D.C. Trooper Pierce, 60, died on March 10, 2011, as a result of brain cancer stemming from his assignment to the World Trade Center Site following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.
Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "Today, we recognize State Police employees; troopers, investigators and civilians, sworn and non-sworn, who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to this agency and the people of New York. Our honorees have shown tremendous bravery, dedication or leadership out on the road, or at one of our installations across the state. Every day our employees continue the fine tradition of the State Police and work to keep New Yorkers safe.”
The following awards were presented:
Brummer Award – Highest Award for Heroism
The Brummer Award, established in 1968 by Wall Street financier and philanthropist Bertram F. Brummer, represents valor, heroism, and outstanding performance of duty by members of the New York State Police. Inclusive of this year, the Brummer Award has been presented 101 times, including 13 times posthumously.
Technical Lieutenant Peter R. McLain - Aviation
Technical Sergeant Brian D. Rumrill - Aviation
On Sunday, December 11, 2016, a young couple embarked on a hike to the summit of Algonquin Mountain located in the Adirondack Mountains.
At the summit, the clear blue skies and unlimited visibility quickly changed as the two became enveloped in a snowy fog. Unable to see, they attempted to descend the mountain but became disoriented and left the marked trail. Within minutes, they fell approximately 100' down the back side of the mountain and landed on top of a group of snow covered evergreen trees. Unable to make their way back to the trail, they built a make-shift shelter and waited to be rescued.
NYS Forest Rangers and New York State Police Troop B personnel began search efforts that evening and continued searching Monday.
By Tuesday morning, repeated attempts by State Police Aviation to aid in the search were grounded by high winds and low clouds. Despite the more than challenging conditions, Lieutenant McLain and Sergeant Rumrill were able to pilot the Division Helicopter to the location of the missing hikers. The couple called out to attract the attention of the aircrew, and were heard by Forest Rangers on the ground.
For the next two hours, the crew made more than a dozen attempts to position the aircraft for a hoist rescue. Each time, the cloud cover forced them to retreat. The crew landed to refuel and coordinated their next move with the rescuers on the mountain. Seeing a break in the clouds approaching, Lieutenant McLain and Sergeant Rumrill took off. With only a 45 to 60 second window, they successfully positioned the helicopter overhead, as DEC Forest Ranger Ian Kerr lowered the hoist cable. Both victims were successfully hoisted into the helicopter and flown directly to the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, NY.
In addition, Forest Ranger Kerr, received a Superintendent’s letter of appreciation for the instrumental role he played in this rescue.
Superintendent’s Commendation Awards
The recipients of the Superintendent’s Commendation Awards were selected from the many members who have received Letters of Commendation from the Superintendent during the past year. The awards presented today recognize the recipients’ outstanding performance of duty and exceptional contribution to the New York State Police.
Major Robin H. Benziger – Division Headquarters
Major Robin H. Benziger is a 33-year veteran of the New York State Police and is assigned to Employee Relations. More than a year ago, Major Benziger accepted the tremendous responsibility of managing the New York State Police Centennial Celebration. Major Benziger has established and successfully coordinated the work of numerous subcommittees and vendors, and set a strong course for several significant projects and commemorative events, which will occur throughout 2017.
As a result of her efforts, and the efforts of those selected to be part of the team, PBS is producing a documentary, “The Gray Riders,” highlighting the 100-year history of the New York State Police. Major Benziger’s personal involvement has also led to expanding the project to include an educational component for grade school children and has spent much of her off-duty time pouring over historical materials and interviewing retirees to best represent our history.
Trooper Roger W. Lind – Troop B
Trooper Roger W. Lind began his career with the New York State Police in 2014 and is assigned to SP Indian Lake in Troop B.
On September 21, 2016, Trooper Lind responded to an emergency call for a hiker who had fallen and sustained a serious head injury near the summit of Chimney Mountain in Indian Lake. The hiker was exploring caves and had fallen below the surface. The responding Forest Rangers, whose main objective is Search and Rescue Operations, advised Trooper Lind that their rescue operation would require additional manpower.
Trooper Lind coordinated with the Rangers and carried rescue equipment one mile to the summit of the mountain. Outfitted with safety gear and climbing equipment, Trooper Lind and the Forest Rangers, crawled through a 12- inch cave opening and established multiple anchor points and a pulley system in preparation for a rope rescue. The team descended approximately 500 feet and reached the victim, a 25 year old man, who was semi-conscious and unable to move. The man was extracted using a hand-over-hand hoist system. Division Aviation met the team and transported the victim to the University of Vermont Medical Center, where he was expected to recover.
Trooper Michael W. Gardner – Troop C
Trooper Michael W. Gardner began his career with the New York State Police in 2004 and is assigned to Whitney Point in Troop C.
On February 27, 2016, Trooper Gardner was on the lookout for a suspect vehicle involved in a serious domestic assault. Trooper Gardner observed the vehicle in the village of Whitney Point and attempted to execute a vehicle stop. The driver sped away in an attempt to elude capture, suddenly veered to the right and careened down an embankment into a frozen lake.
Trooper Gardner immediately went down the steep bank to the vehicle and observed that it was breaking through the ice and becoming submerged. Using a tow strap from his vehicle, Trooper Gardner fastened it to himself and entered the lake. Working in the freezing water, he forcibly opened the door and found the driver unconscious.
With the assistance of a passerby, he pulled the driver out of the car to safety where he later regained consciousness.
Trooper Shaun R. Smith – Troop D
Trooper Shaun R. Smith began his career with the State Police in 2005 and is assigned to SP Oneida in Troop D.
On June 2, 2016, while off-duty, Trooper Smith was swimming laps at the Northwest Family YMCA in Lysander. While swimming, he noticed two young boys in the pool swimming in one of the lanes. A short time later, he observed one of the boys under water and the other boy pulling him to the surface. Trooper Smith saw the boy's face was blue and immediately helped pull the boy out of the pool. The 12-year-old was in cardiac arrest. Trooper Smith began CPR and a lifeguard retrieved an AED and contacted 911.
Together, Trooper Smith and lifeguard continued CPR and applied the AED to the boy. The boy was also helped by a registered nurse and a respiratory therapist. When emergency medical services arrived, the boy began taking labored breaths on his own. He was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, where he regained consciousness.
Trooper Robert P. Hoyt – Troop E
Trooper Robert P. Hoyt began his career with the New York State Police in 2012 and is assigned to SP Lima in Troop E.
On April 13, 2016, Trooper Hoyt observed a speeding vehicle in the town of Lima and initiated a traffic stop. Trooper Hoyt detected the odor of marihuana inside the vehicle and asked the driver to exit while he conducted a search of the vehicle. Trooper Hoyt located a backpack in the trunk containing marijuana and attempted to take the driver into custody, but he pulled away.
The driver punched Trooper Hoyt in the left eye and continued to strike him in the head. The subject then attempted to grab Trooper Hoyt’s sidearm while in its holster and a struggle ensued.
During the struggle, Trooper Hoyt was able to pull his service weapon from his holster and fire two rounds at the subject, striking him in the abdomen. Trooper Hoyt and the subject fell to the ground and the subject once again tried to gain control of Trooper Hoyt’s weapon.
At this time, Trooper Hoyt was unable to see out of his left eye and had only partial vision in his right eye. He was able to manipulate the gun enough so it was pointing at the subject and fired a third round striking him in the shoulder. Trooper Hoyt suffered a concussion, corneal abrasions to both eyes, and an orbital fracture to his left eye as a result of the attack.
Trooper John M. Southard – Troop F
Trooper Kevin A. Donohue – Troop F
Trooper John M. Southard and Trooper Kevin A. Donohue are assigned to SP Ellenville in Troop F.
On May 23, 2016, Troopers Southard and Donohue responded to a 911 call for a suspicious person outside a residence located in Cragsmoor, New York. The caller advised that he was inside his residence and armed with a 12 gauge shotgun.
As the Troopers approached the residence, they observed a shattered front window and heard gunfire coming from within the home. They took cover behind two vehicles that were parked in the driveway as shotgun rounds were discharged in their direction. An unknown vehicle entered the driveway and a female driver exited, walking toward the residence. Trooper Southard focused his attention on the residence, while Trooper Donohue redirected his attention to the female's safety by advising her seek cover. The female took cover in her vehicle and promptly left the scene.
The subject began to discharge several more rounds from within his residence advising the 911 dispatcher that an unknown person was in his bedroom trying to kill him. Trooper Donohue and Southard identified themselves and repeatedly directed him to drop his weapon. Despite repeated commands the homeowner refused to drop the shotgun, and aimed toward Trooper Southard. Trooper Southard fired two rounds, from his issued sidearm, and one struck the butt stock of the shotgun. The subject retreated back into his residence and fired several more rounds before exiting the rear of the residence. As he exited, the subject again had the shotgun shouldered and pointed toward Trooper Southard. The Troopers continued to give verbal commands directing him to drop the weapon. When he refused, Trooper Southard fired one round that narrowly missed him, but forced him to again retreat into his residence. Trooper Donohue and Trooper Southard continued to give verbal commands to the subject, who eventually surrendered and was taken into custody.
Trooper Ronald G. Butler – Troop G
Trooper Miguel L. Orabona – Troop G
Trooper Ronald G. Butler and Trooper Miguel L. Orabona are assigned to SP Clifton Park in Troop G.
On October 26, 2016, Troopers Butler and Orabona monitored a radio transmission for a fully involved structure fire on Tallow Wood Court in the town of Clifton Park.
Upon their arrival, they found residents of the adjacent buildings outside. Interviews revealed two residents were not accounted for. The Troopers, along with a Saratoga County Sheriff’s Deputy, forced entry into the building. While dealing with heavy smoke conditions, Trooper Butler, Trooper Orobona and the Deputy went upstairs where they faced flames and extreme heat. They located the two residents on second floor, asleep in their beds, unaware of the conditions surrounding them. The resident were roused and escorted to safety.
Senior Investigator Robert J. Stampfli – Troop G
Sergeant Joshua S. Logan - Troop G
Investigator Joseph M. Bearor - Troop G
Investigator Christopher M. Lapham - Troop G
Investigator David J. Mosher - Troop G
Trooper Jarrod R. Bowman - Troop G
Trooper Eric J. VanBramer - Troop G
On December 13, 2016, members of the New York State Police were called upon to assist the Village of Greenwich Police Department in the search for two missing 12-year-old boys. During the investigation, it was learned that the boys had gone sledding after school and had not returned home at their designated time. Information was developed that the boys had last been seen at a Department of Public Works snow removal dumping site. During the initial search of the site, part of a plastic sled was observed sticking out of a snow bank.
Fearing the boys had been accidentally buried, State Police Members, along with outside agency personnel, began a systematic and strenuous search of the snowbank, by manually excavating a very large amount of heavy, compacted snow. This was accomplished using sticks, shovels and even by hand. After thirty minutes of digging, one of the boys was located unresponsive, under six feet of snow. Sadly, he was unable to be revived despite exhaustive lifesaving measures. The discovery of the first boy however reinforced the expediency members placed on locating the second missing boy. The thorough and steadfast commitment to locating him was evidenced when he was found conscious and lucid, buried under several tons of compacted snow.
Despite the tragic loss of the first boy, the efforts of all responding members clearly saved the life of the second missing boy.
Trooper David T. Williams – Troop G
Trooper David T. Williams is 19 year veteran of the New York State Police and is currently assigned to SP Greenwich in Troop G.
On July 22, 2016, Trooper Williams responded to a report of a missing four year-old boy in Schuylerville, NY.
The child was reported to have been missing for approximately thirty minutes prior to the 911 call.
Trooper Williams was the first patrol to arrive at the scene and made a quick assessment of the location. The area was heavily wooded with a steep embankment behind the residence leading directly into Fish Creek, a fast-running waterway.
Trooper Williams climbed down the embankment to get a clear view of the stream and stream banks. He was able to see a good distance downstream, but there was a bend upstream obscuring his view. Trooper Williams waded in and walked upstream.
Upon rounding the bend in the creek, he observed the missing four-year-old in chest deep water in front of a dam and spillway. The boy was shivering and still in his pajamas, about an eighth of a mile away from where he was last seen. The location was not observable from any roadways or residences in that area, and was only accessible by walking into the creek.
Trooper Williams rescued the boy and he was examined by a rescue squad and determined he suffered no ill effects from the incident.
Trooper Kimarie L. Wright – Troop L
Trooper Kimarie L. Wright is a 14-year-veteran of the New York State Police and is assigned SP Valley Stream in Troop L.
On November 18, 2016, Trooper Wright was on the Southern State Parkway, just east of exit 17, when she came upon an automobile accident and found a man lying on the ground between two cars. The man had suffered traumatic injuries to both legs and was bleeding profusely. Trooper Wright quickly removed his belt and applied it as a tourniquet to slow the severe bleeding. This all occurred on a very dangerous area of the parkway, during Friday night rush hour, as cars rushed past on both sides. Trooper Wright attended to the injured man, alone for seven minutes, until EMTs arrived.
The EMTs applied proper tourniquets to both legs and rushed the man to the hospital where he received 22 units of blood. Medical personnel from the scene and the hospital credited Trooper Wright with slowing the severe bleeding, giving them time to save the man’s life.
Sergeant Jason Delos-Santos – Troop NYC
Sergeant Timothy M. Sikorsi – Troop NYC
Sergeant Jason Delos-Santos and Sergeant Timothy M. Sikorski are assigned to Troop NYC in Manhattan.
On September 17, 2016, Sergeant Jason Delos-Santos and Sergeant Timothy M. Sikorski were informed of an explosion on West 23rd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Sergeants Delos-Santos and Sikorski Santos responded to the area of the explosion to offer State Police assistance to the New York Police City Department.
Multiple calls reported a possible secondary improvised explosive device on West 27th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Sergeants Delos-Santos and Sikorski were in the immediate vicinity and quickly responded to the area. While checking the roadway and sidewalks for anything suspicious, the Sergeants identified an object as a possible IED and quickly secured the scene by stopping traffic, and evacuating all pedestrians from the area. The scene was turned over to NYPD and their Bomb Squad members, who removed what was later confirmed to be an unexploded IED. Subsequent examination of the device yielded critical evidence that was instrumental in the identification of the terrorist responsible for these acts.
Trooper Kevin P. Dobson Traffic Safety Award
The Traffic Safety Award recognizes a member’s commitment to saving lives and reducing accidents through public education and enforcement. This award is made possible with the help of the New York State Trooper Foundation. The award is named in honor of the late Trooper Kevin P. Dobson who was killed on March 26, 2011 on Interstate 290 in the Town of Tonawanda, Erie County. While outside his patrol vehicle conducting a vehicle and traffic stop, Troop Dobson was struck and killed by a passing motorist.
Trooper Brendan D. Filli – Troop T
Trooper Brendan D. Filli began his career with the New York State Police in 2012 and is assigned to Troop T in Albany. Trooper Filli has made it his mission to aggressively enforce the Driving While Intoxicated statute. In 2016, Trooper Filli made 119 DWI arrests, issued 858 traffic tickets, and made 111 penal law arrests. Trooper Filli is focused and committed to removing intoxicated drivers from the road and has undoubtedly saved countless lives.
George M. Searle Memorial Award
The George M. Searle Memorial Award, established to honor the late Deputy Superintendent George M. Searle, is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves in training and education.
Senior Investigator Samuel Mercado – Community Narcotics Enforcement Team
Senior Investigator Samuel Mercado is a 30 year veteran of the State Police who has devoted his career to narcotics investigations and enforcement.
In 2016, Senior Investigator Mercado played an integral role in developing and implementing improvements to the Division's Undercover Operations School.
Working as an undercover operative is one of the most specialized forms of police work and requires a unique skill set and training platform. Senior Investigator Mercado has dedicated himself to ensuring that State Police Members and other law enforcement officers receive the highest level of training to successfully complete the mission, but most importantly to do so in the safest manner possible.
Trooper William V. McDonagh Award
This award was established in honor of the late Trooper William McDonagh, who was killed in the line of duty on December 14, 1975. Trooper McDonagh actively participated in community events and this award recognizes State Police members for their exceptional community service efforts.
Zone Sergeant Corey S. Harmon – Troop A
Zone Sergeant Corey S. Harmon began his career with the New York State Police in 1998 and is assigned to SP Lockport in Troop A.
In April 2016, Zone Sergeant Harmon developed and implemented a community involvement program called NY STARS (New York State Troopers Advancing Relations in Schools and throughout the Community). Zone Sergeant Harmon has been the point of contact, organizer and event planner for this program that has advanced relationships between the New York State Police, local school districts and the community. NY STARS has allowed the State Police Members to forge relationships with administrators, teachers, students and parents. Members of all ranks have participated in school faculty, safety board and emergency response meetings, as well as a multitude of school functions. Sergeant Harmon has donated numerous hours of his personal time ensuring the success of this program.
Superintendent’s Unit Citation Award
This award was established to recognize the outstanding efforts made by members of a particular unit or detail.
Troop F – Bureau of Criminal Investigation Unit
During the 2016 calendar year, the Troop F Bureau of Criminal Investigation Unit investigated more than 6,500 cases, closing more than 1,500 by arrest. It is not only the volume of work that sets the Troop F BCI apart, but also the exceptional quality of the investigations that are conducted. During the first two months of 2016, members of Troop F BCI conducted four homicide investigations across each of the three Zones. Each case was a collaboration and a true display of cooperation and resulted in each of the four investigations being closed by arrest.
Troop F BCI went on to investigate eight additional homicides, including a quadruple murder and a police officer involved shooting. Investigators from throughout the Troop were also involved in two large scale drug sweeps resulting in the arrest of over 50 suspects on federal narcotics trafficking charges. Additionally, Troop F BCI Members were called upon to investigate a massive industrial accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge and a bomb threat at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Supervisor Recognition Awards
These awards recognize the outstanding work ethic demonstrated by both sworn and non-sworn supervisors who coordinate and oversee various units within the State Police.
Ms. Margaret LaFond – Forensic Investigation Center
Ms. Margaret LaFond is the Associate Director of Drug Chemistry at the Forensic Investigation Center. Ms. LaFond is responsible for not only the drug section at the Forensic Investigation Center, but also for three regional drug labs in the state.
In 2016, Ms. LaFond’s efforts to streamline and find more efficient methods to approach case work resulted in a significant reduction to the drug cases awaiting analysis.
Ms. LaFond has also been instrumental in the planning of the anticipated emerging drugs program within the Drug Chemistry Section. The initiative will enable the State Police to be a premier laboratory in the study of all forms of trending designer drugs.
Sergeant Ryan C. Fountain – Troop B
Sergeant Ryan C. Fountain joined the New York State Police in 2000 and is currently assigned to Troop B at Plattsburgh. Despite the daily requirements of working in a high volume station, Sergeant Fountain always seeks to take on additional duties.
In September 2016, Sergeant Fountain coordinated a month-long search for a wanted individual with a history of violence and marihuana cultivation. Sergeant’s Fountain’s efforts resulted in the capture of the wanted person and the discovery of three large marihuana grow sites.
Sergeant Fountain is also an Employee Assistance Program Regional Peer, a role he excels in due to his approachable manner, trustworthiness, and ability to communicate with others.
Civilian Employee Recognition Awards
The Civilian Employee Recognition Award is presented to civilian employees who have made significant contributions to the Division of State Police.
Mrs. Susan A. Drosdowich – Troop B
Mrs. Susan A. Drosdowich began her career with the State Police in 2001 and is an administrative assistant assigned to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation Captain's Office in Troop B. Mrs. Drosdowich is responsible for organizing and coordinating the multitude of office duties associated with the BCI Captain's Office.
In 2016, Mrs. Drosdowich was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and faced serious health related issues. Throughout the whole ordeal, she has remained positive and dedicated. Despite her rigorous chemotherapy treatment schedule, she always finds the strength to come to work and carefully prioritizes and ensures that all essential duties are done. Mrs. Drosdowich has demonstrated exceptional strength, courage and character and consistently performs far above expectations.
For further details regarding any of the incidents depicted in the narratives above, please contact the respective Troop Headquarters and Troop PIO.