Farms salutes its heroes in uniform

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 19, 2014

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — In what has become a cherished annual tradition, city leaders honored members of the Public Safety Department for impressive achievements in stopping criminals and saving lives in 2013.

Public Safety Director Daniel Jensen, Deputy Director John Hutchins, Municipal Court Judge Matthew Rumora and the Farms City Council were on hand for the presentation of the annual merit awards during the March 10 City Council meeting.

More than a dozen officers were honored, with Jensen commenting that “it is with great pleasure and pride that I present to you” the honorees from 2013.

For reviving a Department of Public Works employee who had collapsed and lost consciousness the morning of Dec. 19, Lt. Jack Patterson was given a Lifesaving Award. Patterson, the first officer on the scene, took over for a DPW employee who had started rescue breathing on the victim. By the time medics arrived, Jensen said, the worker’s pulse had been revived, although he was still unconscious. He was transported to a nearby hospital and made a full recovery. The efforts of Patterson and the DPW worker who also assisted — but wished to remain anonymous — “most certainly saved the victim’s life,” Jensen said.

For their work nabbing a man wanted for drug trafficking, Lt. Brian Bilinski, Public Safety Officer Antonio Trupiano, PSO Keith Colombo, PSO Vincent Finn, PSO Timothy Harris and PSO Matthew Hurner were honored with a Director’s Unit Award. Jensen said the officers helped the Detroit Police Department’s Violent Crimes Task Force in its pursuit of the suspect, who was running through yards in the area of Mack and Newcastle around 4:40 p.m. Aug. 14. Colombo and Bilinski, along with officers from Grosse Pointe Woods, finally caught up with the suspect and arrested him in a yard on Linville.

Using a cellphone and blood samples from crime scenes, Detective Lt. Richard Rosati, Detective John Walko, Detective Bryan Ford, PSO Steve Puckett and PSO Geoffrey McQueen were able to track down a suspect who had reportedly been involved in at least seven larcenies from vehicles Jan. 12, 2013. The suspect was on parole at the time. Jensen said the team was able to recover property stolen during the larcenies at the suspect’s Detroit apartment. For their work on this case, the officers were given a Director’s Unit Award.

Rosati received a citation for finding the suspect responsible for a string of summer home invasions that reminded him of similar incidents in that area the year before. A man posing as a window washer and going door-to-door turned out to be the person responsible for these crimes.

“Detective Lt. Rosati’s diligence and perseverance in this case resulted in the arrest of a serial home invader and the return of (stolen) property,” Jensen said.

An elderly man who briefly stopped at a restaurant on Mack the afternoon of Jan. 26, 2013, lost his Ford Escape to a crook after the victim accidentally left his keys behind on the front passenger seat. Alerted about the missing vehicle, officers immediately checked the surrounding area. Sgt. John Bruno saw a vehicle matching the description of the missing Escape in the area of Woodhall and Linville, on Detroit’s east side, and when the license plate matched that of the stolen vehicle, he attempted to stop the driver and passenger. He was able to arrest the female passenger, but the male driver fled the scene on foot. Colombo and PSO Wesley Kipke, joined by police from neighboring cities, searched for the suspect and tracked him to a vacant house, where he was reportedly hiding upstairs. For taking both suspects into custody and recovering the vehicle, all three officers were given commendations.

“Because of the keen observations and communications of the officers involved, a stolen vehicle was recovered within hours,” Jensen said.

A hit-and-run driver who caused substantial damage to a vehicle parked in the area of Chalfonte and Fisher during the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2013, is now being prosecuted, thanks to the efforts of McQueen. Using a piece of the suspect’s vehicle that had fallen off at the scene, Jensen said, McQueen determined the model from the part’s four-digit code, and using a six-digit sequence number, he found a match to two Chrysler Town and Country minivans through the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Armed with the vehicle identification numbers for both minivans, he accessed shipping records to determine the color of the vehicle, and only one color matched the part police had found, leading to the person responsible for the accident.

“After being presented with the overwhelming evidence, the (female suspect) relented and confessed,” Jensen said.

A tip last year from a resident on McKinley helped PSO Richard Rosati — the lieutenant’s son — and PSO Tom Dionne arrest a pair of suspects who were using flashlights to look inside and break into a parked vehicle. A cellphone inside the vehicle used by the suspects was crucial in Dionne’s efforts to crack the case, and Rosati apprehended one of the suspects in the area of Mack and Canyon. Jensen said the suspect Rosati found matched the description of one of the men wanted for the larceny, and the suspect had wet clothes with pieces of broken glass stuck to him. For their work leading to the arrest of the two suspects, the officers received a citation.

Another citation went to Colombo and Dionne for their Aug. 16 arrest of a man who was reportedly selling marijuana out of a business on the Hill where he worked.

Jensen said his officers helped crack down on drugs in school zones, as well.

“A couple of these awards may seem mundane or typical … but they were really important to us,” he said of arrests that took alleged drug dealers off the streets.

Jensen gave a Director’s Unit Award to Lt. Andrew Rogers, Sgt. Holly Krizmanich, PSO Roger Wierszewski and PSO Paul Reygaert for taking action during an incident Oct. 11 at Grosse Pointe South High School during the South-Grosse Pointe North High School football game. Reygaert was on foot patrol in the area and the other three were on bike patrol when Rogers smelled burnt marijuana near the school. Wierszewski confirmed that the odor was wafting from an Oldsmobile Aurora driving north on Fisher and was able to stop the car. The other three officers quickly joined him on the scene, and the driver reportedly admitted to having a bowl of marijuana in the vehicle. A subsequent search of the car turned up a large jar containing 0.85 ounces of marijuana, another jar with marijuana residue, a scale and $860, Jensen said. He said the driver was arrested for possession of marijuana in a school zone with intent to sell or distribute, along with possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

Reygaert was involved in another arrest in a school zone during which he witnessed an apparent drug sale April 20. A traffic stop followed and concluded with the arrest of three individuals. Jensen said police confiscated “a fair amount of suspected marijuana along with assorted pills and equipment associated with the sale of drugs.”

Surrounded by officers, Mayor James Farquhar quipped, “This is the safest I’ve (felt) at a council meeting,” which generated laughs from residents and officials. The mayor also warmly welcomed the officers and thanked them for their work for the city.

“It is a great honor for us to do this,” Farquhar said of distributing these awards. “You all make us feel good at night. … You catch the bad guys … and once you catch the bad guys, (Judge Rumora) puts them away, so it’s a great tandem deal.”