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Medals, Promotions Highlights Cops' Outstanding Efforts

11 police officers—and one civilian—recognized at Tuesday event.

The Bridgewater Police Department presented medals to five officers at Tuesday's ceremony. Credit: John Patten
The Bridgewater Police Department presented medals to five officers at Tuesday's ceremony. Credit: John Patten
On Feb. 8, Bridgewater police received a report of an unconscious woman in an Woodside Lane residence, a potentially life-threatening emergency.

Police officers Todd Mele and Stephen Zeichner zoomed to the address, arriving to find the woman still unconscious. They administered CPR and used an automated external defibrillator to restore her heartbeat—thereby saving her life. 

Their actions earned them the department's CPR/Defibrillator Save award, one of three special awards presented during a special ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the municipal courtroom that also included promotions for Ofc. Scott Hobbs to sergeant, and Detective Sgt. Timothy Hoey to lieutenant.

Lt. Hoey was doubly recognized Tuesday—he also received the department's Medal of Merit for his actions catching a bank robber in May after recognizing the suspect identified as the robber of a Bank of America branch in Bound Brook.

Chief Richard Borden and Mayor Daniel Hayes also presented CPR/Defibrillator Save awards to Officers Kurt Bernhard and Joseph Bones, and Rescue Squad member Craig Simon, who responded to the Shadow Oak Road residence after Brick resident Heath Meinheit was knocked unconscious by an electrical shock last week.

Five officers were recognized for their "exceptional service," including Officers Thomas Kochanski, Russell Yarnell and John Kennedy, who responded to the scene of a Thompson Avenue fire on May 2 and captured two suspects later charged with arson.

And Officers Kevin Florczak and Anthony DiGraziano were awarded the Exceptional Service Award for their undercover work that lead to charges against two North Carolina men selling drugs at the Days Inn, on Route 22.

Sgt. Hobbs, a 21-year Bridgewater veteran, was named one of the state's first student resource officers and helped launch the department's honor guard. The Bridgewater native is a member of the board of directors for the Police Unity Tour, a national organization working to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and Museum, honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

Lt. Hoey has previously been awarded the Medal of Merit, and has worked in the department's investigations, patrol and administrative divisions in his almost 20 year career.

After both officers' promotions concluded, Chief Borden quipped that it's the first time somebody didn't mess up in taking the oaths. "I want to thank the two promotees for not screwing up," he said.

The day's final action was a tribute to the career of Lt. Richard Hollender, who retired on Sept. 1 after 25 years with the department. Chief Borden noted the significance of serving 25 years as a law enforcement officer, "no matter what capacity, what duty you do, 25 years is quite a career," he said.

"It's just good to see someone who's healthy—maybe not wise—have a chance to enjoy retirement," he joked.

In concluding the event, Mayor Hayes said the ceremony was inspirational.

"We've listened to details of accomplishments, details of a career," he said. "To me, I'm inspired." 

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