The City of Fulton held its annual police and fire awards ceremony Wednesday evening, a chance to thank officers, firefighters and others for their efforts in fighting crime and saving lives.
(Click any of the photos in the slideshow, above, to see a full-sized version.)
Mayor Ron Woodward applauded the city firemen and police officers, who have had to cope with budget cuts and recently accepted pay freezes. “Even though they’re strapped more now than I’ve seen in the 20 some-odd years I’ve been around here, they’re not complaining. They understand. They care about Fulton and they want to make the quality of life in Fulton better than it was,” he said.
The evening’s first honor went to a civilian. Sandy Weston founded an environmental group years ago that pressed the city to deal with pollution problems. She went on to serve on various boards and committees and recently left service on the Fulton Planning Commission.
She was given the Community Service Award, given by the Fulton Police Department’s union.
Struggling to talk through tears, she said she was proud “to have worked hard to make this city a better place to live.” She also thanked the city employees who helped her daughter and son-in-law earlier in the week after an accident. They were, she said, “just very caring, helping our frightened children and a scared-to-death mother and father through a horrible situation.”
The evening’s top honors went to firefighter John McGraw and police officer Lucas Hollenbeck, named Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year.
Emcee Christie Casciano, crime reporter and anchor for NewsChannel 9, said of McGraw: “Over the years he has spear headed many projects, including teaching our EMS program, certifying our members as well as members of the City’s general workforce in CPR and currently he is the departments go to person for all of our radio system equipment maintenance and inventory.”
Of Hollenbeck: “He has regularly led the department in traffic enforcement and arrests since the day he started his career with the Fulton Police Department. He serves the Department in specialized areas including, Police Instructor, Evidence Technician and he has received specialized training in the detection of drug-impaired drivers.”
The full text of the evening’s awards is below:
We will begin with some service awards – An attendance program for the Fire and Police Departments recognizes those employees who have completed two consecutive years of service without an absence. Tonight, we recognize the following employees for accomplishing just that:
Firefighter Paul Kinne
Firefighter Chris Caza
Firefighter Robert Summerville
Lieutenant Steven Dexter
Lieutenant Aaron Howard
Lieutenant Mark Pollock
Captain William Molascon
Officer Victor Kaufman
Sergeant Ralph McCann
Lieutenant William Clark
Police and Fire service can be very physically demanding as many of you know. With that in mind, every year members of the police and fire department are given the opportunity to test themselves physically in the annual Fitness Challenge. The following officer met that challenge and scored in the 90th % or better. For this officer who rated among the “best of the best” we recognize him tonight with the Triumphant Award:
Firefighter William Bullock
Ofc. Brian Dumas
While they are on their way to the stage, we also want to present a certificate of excellence to Lt. David Eiffe who scored in the 85% or better category.
Every year the Fulton Police Department participates in the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program or “STEP” program which is funded through grants provided by the Governors Traffic Safety Committee. This program targets traffic offenses like red light, stop sign, unsafe lane change, and failure to yield the right of way just to name a few. These offenses are indicative of driving behaviors that cause the majority of accidents which occur in the City. The City of Fulton Police Department considers traffic safety a priority, working hard to protect the drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians that travel the roadways and sidewalks of the City. This dedication pays off. In 2011 here in Fulton we saw an 8% decrease in motor vehicle accidents over the last decades average! The hard work and dedication to traffic safety of the following officers set them apart in traffic enforcement during the 2010/2011 grant year. Their efforts are recognized here today with mayoral commendations. Leading the department for the year was Officer Jerrett Marino followed by Officer Lucas Hollenbeck and Officer Brandon Harris.
and for their contributions we recognize the following officers with certificates of commendation:
Ofc. Jeffrey Margrey
Ofc. Christopher Jones
Ofc. Brian Dumas
Ofc. Christian Dempsey
Ofc. Victor Kaufman
And Ofc. Sean Hanks
Last year in March, Ofc. Lucas Hollenbeck was on patrol like any other Tuesday night on the afternoon shift. He was stopped at an intersection on the East side, when a car drove by with a loud muffler catching his attention. As he watched, this same vehicle pulled out in front of another vehicle nearly causing an accident. Hollenbeck activated his emergency lights and quickly stopped the vehicle. Ofc. Hollenbeck approached the vehicles operator and asked to see his license. The driver explained he didn’t have his license on him, which is never a good start. At this time he started to have a conversation with the driver and passenger as to why they were stopped and as the conversation carried on both the driver and passenger appeared to get more and more nervous. At about this time Ofc. Victor Kaufman arrived on the scene and took up a position on the passenger side of the car. While Kaufman was watching the passenger he noticed the man kept reaching down toward an open back pack on the floor. The passenger was warned to keep his hands away from the bag and the more Ofc. Hollenbeck spoke to the driver the more it became obvious there was something going on. The two men were asked to step out of the vehicle where the conversation continued. A short time later the passenger finally admitted to having a considerable amount of crack cocaine secreted in back pack on the floor of the passenger side of the car . The driver of the vehicle was cited for multiple traffic infractions and the passenger was arrested for 2 counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled substance 3rd both B felonies. For their alert proactive actions during a routine traffic stop that helped take crack cocaine off of the streets of fulton and led to a felony narcotics arrest we recognize Ofc. Lucas Hollenbeck and Ofc. Victor Kaufman with the honorable service award.
As in the past we like to recognize those people that work or live in the community that go above and beyond when called on to assist a city agency. In this case the Fulton Police Department has had an ally in Price Chopper Loss Prevention Manager Donald Bragg. Since 2006 Donald has gone out of his way to assist the Fulton Police Department when ever his assistance is needed. With his help the Fulton Police have successfully investigated a multitude of crimes including assaults, shoplifting, hit and run accidents and grand larcenies. Donald always makes himself available whether the situation involves Price Chopper or not. The members of the Fulton Police Department consider Donald an asset that they are lucky to have on their side. For his dedication to the public safety of our community and willingness to go above and beyond his job The city recognizes Donald Bragg with the Civilian Service Award.
When the topic of traffic safety comes up, one facet usually stands out, that being DWI’s. Last year members of the City of Fulton Police Department made 77 arrests for Driving while intoxicated. What’s outstanding about this statistic is that one officer was responsible for 21 of those arrests or 26% of the DWI arrests for the entire department. This officers proactive stance on traffic safety helps to keep the streets safe for our families everyday. For his hard work and dedication to traffic safety we recognize the efforts of Officer Jarrett Marino with the Exceptional Duty award
On a routine Saturday night last march officers were on regular patrol when several Criminal Mischief complaints were called in to 911 simultaneously. Although odd that they would come in at the same time it wasn’t unheard of. Officers responded for the initial investigation but what they found was a shock here in our community. What was initially thought to be a rash of simple criminal mischief complaints actually turned out to be the drive by shooting of several buildings in the city, including an occupied house and Dunkin Donuts which was open for business and occupied at the time. We are fortunate here in Fulton in that this is something to which we are rarely exposed. Duty officers got to work and thorough investigations were done but police had virtually nothing to go on. There was nothing connecting any of the shooting locations and on the surface the shootings appeared to be random and without cause. About a week later the Fulton Police received there first solid tip. Two potential suspects were named to police and Fulton PD’s Criminal Investigation Division, took up the case. Sgt Ralph McCann, Investigator Michael Batstone, Investigator Aimee May and Investigator Michael Curtis started following up on this lead which led them from Martville to Liverpool and points between. Multiple witnesses were interviewed and eventually the case focused in on one main suspect Timothy Lashomb. Through their investigation the weapon used in the shootings was later recovered and Timothy was located and interviewed. During the interview he eventually admitted to driving through the City of Fulton randomly firing a .22 caliber rifle out of a car window into houses and buildings. As a result of this investigation, Lashomb was later convicted of Reckless Endangerment 1st and was sentenced to 2 – 7 years in state prison. For their persistence and hard work in solving a crime that had the residents and business owners here in fulton in fear we recognize Sgt. Ralph McCann, Investigator Michael Batstone, Investigator Aimee May and Investigator Michael Curtis with the Unit Citation.
Here in New York State those people that are put on parole after incarceration are required to meet with their parole officer periodically. In Fulton They meet with Parole Officer Richard Oliver right here at City Hall. Over the last several years Officer Oliver has proven to be an asset to the City of Fulton Police Department. As you can imagine those people placed on parole sometimes come into or posses information regarding potential illegal activity. Officer Oliver has time and again assisted members of the police providing information and support which has lead to many arrests and convictions. Oliver goes above and beyond regularly making himself available both day and to his delight overnight when the need arises. For his dedication to both his office and the assistance he routinely provides to members of the Fulton Police Department day in and day out, the City of Fulton recognizes Parole Officer Rich Oliver with the Honorable service award.
Way back in March of 2010 the Fulton Police Department investigated 3 separate burglary reports that occurred here in the City. Right around that same time there were burglaries reported in both town of Hannibal and Minetto. Unfortunately there were very few leads which quickly turned into dead ends. While talking with a suspect in an unrelated drug case Investigator Michael Batstone obtained information that Michael Shoults was responsible for all of these unsolved burglaries. The problem was there was no evidence connecting Shoults to these crimes. Batstone worked the case all summer and fall conducting multiple interviews in an attempt to develop the case enough to charge Shoults. Then in January 2011 a residential burglary occurred here in Fulton. Soon after Investigator Batstone developed information that proceeds from this burglary were sold to a jewelry store in Oswego. Inv. Batstone went to work, confirming this information and recovering the stolen property. He confirmed that Shoults had sold the items to the Jewelry store and with this information he confronted Shoults. Shoults eventually confessed to Inv. Batstone that he was responsible for not only this latest Burglary in Fulton, but he was responsible for the other earlier Fulton Burglaries as well as the burglaries that had been earlier reported in Hannibal and minetto. In all Shoults was charged in 10 burglaries occurring in both Fulton and Oswego county! Shoults was later sentenced to four years in state prison for his actions. This convicted felon could have easily gotten away with his actions leaving many of these crimes unsolved, if It had not been for the hard work and persistence of Investigator Batstone. For his actions we recognize Inv. Michael Batstone with the Honorable Service Award.
Last March members of the Fulton Police Department started getting information that a guy named “Joe Black” or “Mohammed Joe” was coming into Fulton and selling large amounts of crack cocaine. The information coming in was that Joe was dealing crack out of an SUV that he would be driven around in. Sgt. Ralph McCann and Investigator Michael Batstone went to work on the case trying to accurately identify “Joe” and his routine when it came to drug sales. With Joe always on the move and little to go on it took them some time, but eventually Joe was identified as Mohamed Mahmow who lived in Liverpool. Armed with this information McCann and Batstone started building there case, doing interviews and surveillance until they had enough information to apply for a search warrant. Mahmow was eventually located at a local hotel where the search warrant was executed. 41 small packages of crack cocaine were located during the search warrant which led to a second search warrant at Mahmow’s residence in Liverpool. In coordination with the DEA, Border Patrol and the Onondaga County Sheriff’s department, Inv. Batstone and Sgt McCann executed the search warrant at Mahmow’s residence. There, evidence of a significant narcotics operation was uncovered. The US Attorneys office assisted with the prosecution and as a result of this investigation all of Mahmow’s assets were seized and he is currently awaiting sentencing. This operation which was initiated and led by Sgt. McCann and Inv. Batstone had a significant impact on the drug trade here in the City of Fulton. For their efforts we recognize Sgt. Ralph McCann and Investigator Michael Batstone with the Drug Buster Award.
Late last February on a cold Saturday morning things had just quieted down when police were called to a reported shooting on the Cities East side. Sgt. Steve Lunn along with Officers Jarrett Marino, Jeremy Hutchinson, and Jeremy Algarin immediately responded to the scene, and as typical with this type of call having little information as to what they would be walking into when they arrived. Officers entered the residence and quickly assessed the situation. The victim was conscience, suffering from a gun shot wound to the back. Officers learned that the suspect had fled just prior to police arrival. Officers immediately went to work getting medical attention for the victim, who would later recover from his wounds, and getting a quick break down of what had occurred. Officers learned that the victim was actually shot at a different location and he had fled to the house where he called for help. Both scenes were secured and officers began gathering evidence and conducting interviews. Lt. Ken Sheldon, Sgt Ralph McCann, along with investigators Michael Batstone, Michael Curtis and Aimee May were called to scene to assist in the investigation. Through interviews at the scene a suspect, Michael Watkins, was identified. While some officers collected evidence and conducted interviews, others began the man hunt to locate what was believed to be an armed and very dangerous Michael Watkins. The hunt for Watkins started with several residences in the City of Fulton, but as Officers checked various possible locations and conducted additional interviews the search quickly expanded to both Oswego County and the City of Oswego. Through several specialized law enforcement techniques Watkins was eventually located at a residence in rural Martville. There he was taken into custody with the assistance of members of the New York State Police. The gun that was used in the shooting was located, fully loaded, in the room where Watkins was taken into custody. Soon after being taken into custody Watkins stated that there would have been a shoot out if the police approached him differently! Watkins took the case to trial where he was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in state prison. For their efforts which led to the apprehension and conviction of this extremely dangerous felon we recognize Lt. Kenneth Sheldon, Sgt Ralph McCann, Sgt Steven Lunn, Investigators Michael Batstone, Aimee May, and Michael Curtis along with Officers Jeremy Algarin, Jeremy Hutchinson and Jerratt Marino with a Unit Citation.
In January of 2011 Officer Lucas Hollenbeck was on patrol when he pulled into the parking lot at the Windstream building on South Second Street. He had been there just a short time when a car pulled into the parking lot right up to his vehicle.
Amy Vanburen had picked up her father from his residence and was driving him to a relative’s house. While they were driving Amy’s father started having difficulty breathing. Amy decided to take her dad to urgent care as it was clear he was not doing well. As they started toward Urgent Care Amy’s father went unconscious. As she was rushing down S. Second street she saw a police car parked in the windstream parking lot. Believing her father to be in grave condition she quickly pulled into the parking lot looking for immediate help.
When the vehicle pulled up to Ofc. Hollenbeck’s patrol car he wasn’t sure what to expect. Amy told Hollenbeck her father had just fallen unconscious in the back of her vehicle. Hollenbeck immediately radioed his location and need for an ambulance. He then attempted to assess Amy’s father’s condition. It took just a moment for Hollenbeck to realize Amy’s father was not breathing and unresponsive. Hollenbeck pulled Amy’s father from the car and placed him on the ground in the parking lot. When he still could not get any response, he began CPR. FFD rescue arrived and Firefighter Shane Laws jumped in and assisted Hollenbeck with CPR using a ventilator to help Amy’s father breath. Menters Ambulance personal, Zachary Menter, Matthew Morrell and paramedic James O’Connor arrived and took over the life saving efforts. Amy’s father was loaded into the ambulance and rushed to St. Joe’s hospital. While rushing to the hospital the life saving efforts paid off as Amy’s father regained consciences. After treatment he eventually went on to make a full recovery. Amy later stated if the officer had not been there and intervened, her father would not have been here today. For their superior efforts we recognize Officer Lucas Hollenbeck, Firefighter Shane Laws, Medic Zachary Menter, Medic Matthew Morrell and Paramedic James O’Connor with the Lifesaving Award.
FIREFIGHTER OF THE YEAR
This years firefighter of the year came to this department nearly 17 years ago. Now a veteran on the department, he is involved in many activities that support the day to day operations of the department and often is looked to by its leadership when something needs to get done. Over the years he has spear headed many projects, including teaching our EMS program, certifying our members as well as members of the City’s general workforce in CPR and currently he is the departments go to person for all of our radio system equipment maintenance and inventory. During the past year he has been the driving force behind the submission of two equipment grants and he has been the liaison between the county and the department while we
make the transition into the newly purchased county wide radio system. He has been known to take on many small tasks that are often unheralded and usually go unnoticed. He is a team player, a hard worker and he is nearly always present when an off duty emergency occurs that warrants extra help. Because of his drive and motivation, his presence when its needed most and his team player attitude, we are proud to recognize John D. McGraw as our Firefighter of the year for 2011.
POLICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Our Police Officer of the Year has been a member of the City of Fulton Police Department for 6 years now, he is a self-motivated and ambitious officer, you have already seen him receive awards tonight for his exemplary actions. Our Police Officer of the year is a leader who is always looking to give his fellow officer a hand in the field. He has regularly led the department in traffic enforcement and arrests since the day he started his career with the Fulton Police Department. He serves the Department in specialized areas including, Police Instructor, Evidence Technician and he has received specialized training in the detection of drug-impaired drivers. During his career he has been the recipient of 2 Honorable Service Citations, 2 Unit Citations and a citation for Meritorious Service. This Officer leads by example and exemplifies what we expect of all our officers at the Fulton Police Department. For his dedication, professionalism, and commitment to the City of Fulton Police Department, it is an honor to recognize Lucas Hollenbeck as the Police Officer of the Year for 2011.