DeWitt Police honor citizens, officers at annual event

Nine citizens and 14 police officers were presented with awards at the DeWitt Police Department's annual awards event held mid-May, with Captain Tracy L. Freeman of the New York Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing as guest speaker.

Citizens were honored for their actions they took involving a bank robbery, reporting a suspicious vehicle, witnessing a robbery and for service to a community policing group. Those residents included father/son team John Cole and John Cole, Jr., Ronald Richards, William Carr, Amy Pellman and Jim Gallup.

Kyle Laitenberger earned a special recognition award for long-term involvement with the Franklin Park Community Policing group.

"For more than five years, [Laitenberger] has been involved [with the group] and is now moving out of the town of DeWitt," said Police Chief Eugene Conway.

Two 911 Center employees, Jon Barrett and Tedi Spooner, were given awards for their efforts in preventing a suicide and helping to solve multiple burglaries.

"We have honored people this year whose assistance ranged from calling in a suspicious looking person to a citizen who actually followed a bank robbery suspect out of the bank along his escape route," Conway said. "All of these citizens' actions helped us solve crimes which otherwise could have gone unsolved. The community's role is an extremely important one in our ability to police effectively."

Police awards ranged from solving a residential burglary to life saving efforts in a fire at a DeWitt apartment complex. Three members received recognition for long-term distinguished service and Officer Jeff MacDonald was named Officer of the Year Award, an award that recognizes consistent and outstanding efforts. He was selected by his peers, meeting criteria from many categories.

"In his short time as a police officer (five years), Jeff MacDonald has taken on many added responsibilities that is asked of him," Conway said. "He also has been a great mentor to interns and those who want to be in law enforcement. In addition, he is an outstanding citizen as well as a terrific representative of the DeWitt Police Department."

MacDonald is a patrol officer and field training officer, who, this past year, assumed the duties and responsibilities of quartermaster, the person in charge of ordering proper attire and accessories for members of the police department. He is an original member of the Emergency Services Team and former team leader. He is also active in the department's Community Policing Program.

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