Millville Police Department
MILLVILLE — Three city police officers spent the past couple of days at R.D. Wood Elementary School, talking with students and hoping to change any perceptions of fear they may have of police.
Sgt. Harry Cranmer and Officer Dan Ayars of the Neighborhood Crime Prevention Unit and K9 Officer John Butschky met with all the school’s students over two days to speak about their jobs, answer questions and introduce Hannah, a 5-year-old explosion detection dog for the police department.
“We want to take away the fear of police presence among children,” Cranmer said. “It gives them an opportunity to let them understand we’re friendly and they can put their trust in us.”
After speaking to students Monday, Cranmer said, he already noticed a difference in the kids when he arrived Tuesday. They lit up when they saw officers arrive for the second day of their visit, he said. The officers have visited area schools in the past, though some time has passed since the last visit, Cranmer said. The school’s security guard, Robert Garton, proposed the idea to Wood Principal Harry Drew to invite the officers for this week’s visits. “It’s just so the kids get to see police officers and realized they’re human beings, they’re friends and they’re there to help them,” said Garton, a Millville police officer for 15 years and a former chief of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.
Drew felt it was a good idea to help drive the point that police make the community safer. “A lot of times when they see them, it’s something negative,” he said. “We want them to know when they’re there, it’s a good thing.” Students from each grade took turns meeting with officers in the school’s multipurpose room. The officers’ first audience Tuesday was a group of 34 third-graders. The children asked what happens if officers run out of bullets, if their dogs bite or if their night-vision goggles make them see green. Kyla Bandachawicz, 9, never knew before Tuesday that officers use a vest to protect themselves.
Then Butschky readied the class for a visit with Hannah, instructing the kids to be quiet and letting them know they should move back if they were afraid, but the students only sat up or leaned forward, eager to pet the visiting K9. The officer got Hannah from the school custodian’s office and took her around to be petted.
Kennith Underwood, 9, said he felt good that Hannah seemed to take a liking to him when it was his turn to pet her. He found a new appreciation for the job of a K9 officer.“It’s awesome because of how the dogs get to sniff bombs and check people,” he said.
Butschky told them the police K9s undergo monthly training and said Hannah gets excited when she finds what she’s searching for. He explained that, as a Chesapeake Bay retriever, Hannah is a waterfowl dog and loves her stuffed duck toy. “It’s the best thing in the world for kids to be able to interact with the dogs,” Butschky said. “That’s why we bring them out. It’s a positive view for the public.”And one more thing, he said, answering a student’s question: “Yeah, sometimes you do get slobber on you.”
The dog was imported from France to a company in Virginia that also supplies the military. The city used $6,000 in drug case forfeiture funds to buy it. Its partner is Officer Michael Calchi, who got to name the animal. Treu is a German word that translates as “loyal” or “trusty.” Calchi and Treu started a 16-week training course Thursday at the Atlantic County K9 Academy in Corbin City. “He’s got a good temper,” Calchi said. “We bonded very well. He has come to work with me for a couple days.”
Calchi’s partner is the second Malinois the department has accepted. The first one, named “Tyson,” is assigned to Officer John Butschky. Both Treu and Tyson are from a breed designed for herding and other fieldwork. At about 65 pounds, they are smaller than the average male German shepherd but compensate with quickness.
Haas said the city was looking at dogs from several other vendors when a representative from the American K9 Interdiction brought Treu to Atlantic County’s K9 school for a demonstration. “This dog just stood out,” Haas said. Calchi, in his third year with the department, was one of a dozen officers who expressed interest last fall in K9 training. Multiple interviews and tests — including serving as human targets for K9s — narrowed the field to Calchi. Haas said the department hopes to buy a fifth dog this fall.
MILLVILLE — Today is the deadline for the layoffs of
three Millville police officers. Originally, the layoffs accounted for five
officers, but the number is now down to three, with Officer Matthew Radcliffe
transferring to the Vineland Police Department and another retiring. As of
Saturday, the layoffs still stood. A tentative change, however, is always
“We still have a lot of active dialogue going back and forth, and that’s continuing through the weekend,” said Vice Mayor Joe Derella, director of city revenue and finance.
Derella pointed out that with Detective Keith O’Brien retiring, the city could see a reimbursement.
“We’re still discussing this with the PBA. Director (Dave) Vanaman is taking the lead. With O’Brien retiring, we’ll get a percentage of funds back,” Derella said.
It was still unclear Saturday if Det. O’Brien’s retirement means another layoff eliminated, but was not ruled out. “We still have three to avert,” Derella said.
Layoffs were announced on June, with 13 city employees total facing the cut. Along with the five officers, a dispatcher, two staff members and five public works employees would lose their jobs if a contract was not reached by Aug. 1. The five police layoffs brought the most protests to the city, especially at recent city commission meetings. At a past commission meeting, following public comment from many of the officers, Vanaman, commissioner of public safety, expressed that he did not want to see the layoffs.
“I’m in favor of the tax increase if it means preventing the layoffs,” Vanaman said. “If the officers agreed to take the 12 furlough days, we wouldn’t have the layoffs.”
Last year, officers were given eight furlough days to prevent layoffs. This year, the furloughs were upped to 12. During public comment portion of one commission meeting, multiple officers protested the furloughs, feeling that with the increase from 2010 to 2011 and the looming economy, the furlough amount increases will continue. Though 12 furlough days would result in a 4.6-percent salary decrease, according to Derella, the officers were given a 3 percent raise in salary this year by an arbitrator’s decision. “This put their decrease at 1.6 percent,” Derella said. Of the budget, Derella said the city has “shaved as far as we can shave,” and hopes a tentative agreement would be reached with the PBA. “We don’t want to see layoffs,” Derella added.
At the end of last month, Council 18, a 96-member union that faced the 13 layoffs, rejected a contract that they asked the city to sign only hours earlier. At the start of July, Council 18 employees returned to a full work week with their furloughs beginning July 30. “We’re facing a $1.2 million deficit,” Derella said.
MILLVILLE -- Millville police have begun using a more compact, nimble breed of police dog imported from Holland. Tyson, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, began work in mid-May. He has already started earning his keep, according to handler Ptl. John Butschky. Tyson was on his eighth shift Tuesday when police chased a burglary suspect into a marsh near Noble Street Park. Tyson subdued the suspect, Jose Castro, 18, when he refused to give himself up, say police. Tyson and Butschky arrived and entered waist-high water with Tyson swimming and barking. Butschky said Castro reached into his waistband, prompting him to send Tyson on him. When it was over, Castro had kicked Tyson in the face and the dog was covered in mud. But he got his man, said Butschky.
Smaller than a German shepherd, yet more agile, malinois are lightning fast with powerful jaws. They're also hyper. "His personality is 24-hour-a-day adrenaline rush," said Butschky. On a recent sweltering afternoon, Butschky and officer Rich Reynolds demonstrated Tyson's skills. Reynolds played the role of criminal, covering his arm with a protective sleeve Tyson would not release until commanded by Butschky.
"His dog hits hard," said Reynolds.
The police purchased Tyson for $6,250 in December from a kennel in South Carolina. Millville police Chief Thomas Haas, a big supporter of the K-9 unit, made sure the purchase came completely from drug forfeiture funds, said Butschky. Tyson trained 16 weeks at the John "Sonny" Burke K-9 Academy in Pomona with Butschky. Millville's K-9 unit has four dogs and three handlers. Tyson lives with Butschky, Hannah, a Chesapeake retriever still on duty with the police, and Cooper, a German shepherd, whom Tyson replaced in May. Cooper served nine years with the department. Rounding out the unit are German shepherds Raiden and Nitro, whose handlers are Sgt. Mike Colon and Officer Tony Lotek. A famous boxing incident where Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear is to thank for the name Tyson. The K-9 lost part of his ear in a fight that occurred before his arrival in Millville, Butschky said. "Evander Holyfield was too long," said Butschky, 32, a three-year veteran of the Millville police department, who has been working in law enforcement 13 years.
MILLVILLE — The Millville Police Department on Thursday
announced officers in the city will be cracking down on motorists, and their
passengers, not wearing their seat belts as part of the national “Click it or
From May 23 until June 5, the annual initiative will include high visibility law enforcement seat belt checkpoints and patrols, as well as local and national publicity campaigns to “ensure that drivers and passengers recognize the life saving value of seat belts.”
“Using a seat belt is the simplest way for a driver and his or her passengers to protect themselves when traveling,” said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, in a released statement. “Motor vehicle occupants who buckle up increase their chances of surviving a crash by as much as 75 percent.”
Last year, the rate of front seat belt usage in New Jersey rose for the 14th consecutive year to 93.73 percent, according to officials.
This year’s campaign will also focus on rear seat passengers — legislation requiring adults in back seats wear seat belts became law last year.
Currently, adult seat belt use in the back seat stands at 27 percent
MILLVILLE — Carmen DeGregorio Jr. is a true Millville hero.
And a winner of the Carnegie Medal for Heroism.
The late retired Millville police officer was fatally injured while rescuing a woman from a domestic assault when he noticed a woman being kidnapped by her boyfriend at the Wawa on Wade Boulevard and Main Street on Nov. 27, 2007.
As the man tried to shove his girlfriend into the trunk of a car, DeGregorio quickly responded by defending the woman and fighting off the boyfriend, Christopher Robinson.
Robinson ran DeGregorio down with his car in the parking lot, causing serious head injuries that led to DeGregorio’s death two days later.
A lengthy case followed, culminating in charges for murder and attempted kidnapping, landing Robinson a 30-year sentence in state prison that he is now serving.
For the heroism that cost him his life, DeGregorio was awarded a Carnegie Medal for Heroism.
DeGregorio left behind his wife Adrienne, and twin children Carmen Francis III and Virginia Lynn.
Now in the DeGregorio house, Adrienne keeps a curio cabinet of things she has received following her husband’s death.
Adrienne received medals of valor for her husband’s deed from the American Red Cross, Policemen’s Benevolent Association, American Legion, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, and countless others.
“My favorite is a rose that was dipped in gold,” Adrienne said. “I made my first visit to the Wawa where it happened in May 2008, about six months afterwards. The police officers joined me and presented me with the rose.”
In a few months, when the Carnegie medal is personalized for DeGregorio, Adrienne will be able to add it to her cabinet.
“He did the supreme sacrifice,” said Adrienne, his wife of 19 years. “I still get emotional over it. He was my hero.”
“My children and I are completely honored and really impressed at how many people have found so much interest in what my husband did.”
She said she is also making a scrapbook of articles and memorabilia for both her children so they will be able to show their children who their grandfather was. They also have a river birch tree as a memorial currently standing in Patriot Park that was planted in April 2008.
In an instance of unexpected positive news regarding the award, however, the family will receive a $5,000 grant from the Pittsburg-based Carnegie Hero Fun Commission, along with the medal.
“I thought I’d only get the medal. We never expected any financial aid with it,” Adrienne said.
Adrienne has been out of work since 2009 after finding out she had breast cancer. She is currently battling the side effects of the radiation and is currently undergoing therapy.
As for her children: “They’re stronger than I am,” she said on a lighter note. “They’re excited that they’re dad is getting honored. We have a lot of love in our house and a lot of support from the Millville police and the county. It’s wonderful to know everyone cares so much.”
The process for the award, however didn’t happen overnight. It comes long-awaited since 2007 when Carmen’s sergeant Dan Baer heard about it from a friend.
“Right after the incident happened, I started a trust fund to assist the family as an educational fund for his two children,” said Baer, now a lieutenant. “Through the trust fund, a friend told me about the Carnegie Hero Award.”
Baer nominated DeGregorio in 2007, but everything was placed on hold until the case was completed this year, when the award officials were able to gather testimonies from the witnesses and the prosecutors office.
“It opens doors for financial assistance and scholarships for the children,” Baer said. “That, in connection with the hero fund, I’m certain both children will be able to go to college.”
Speaking of which, the college search will come soon for the twins, who are now 16-years-old and both sophomores at Millville Senior High School.
Looking ahead, Adrienne and her children’s plans of spreading the story about their beloved father and husband does not conclude here.
Adrienne said she hopes to contact the Wawa management and have a memorial set up in the area her husband was hit.
“I want the world to know the story of how he gave his life to save another,” Adrienne said.
She also hopes to publish a book about their life together.
“I’m in the middle of working on a book as well. I started writing right after he passed away. It’s a story from when we met, to our marriage, to the kids and his heroism,” she said. “He’s always been my hero, even before we were married.”
Carmen DeGregorio is the only posthumous winner of the award. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission was established in April 1904 and awards the Carnegie Medal to 20 individuals from throughout the United States and Canada who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree saving or attempting to save the lives of others.
MILLVILLE -- The promotion was a long time coming for now Capt. Matt Rabbai.
Rabbai, 55, has served nearly 27 years with the city's police department -- the last 10 as a sergeant. Before Tuesday's City Commission meeting, Rabbai was officially sworn in as captain and the second-highest ranking officer in the department under Chief Thomas Haas. "It's been a long time coming, but he did it," said Matteo Rabbai, the captain's son. "I thought he would do it. I did not know how long it would take. It took a lot of patience."
The department has not had a captain since Wayne Smith retired on Jan. 1. Public Safety Director Dave Vanaman said Rabbai scored the highest on the state Civil Service Commission's captain test. "Chief Haas has been on my back the last few weeks. He needed help," Vanaman said. "Matt will be a great addition as the second in command."
Rabbai has worked with Haas for more than 25 years and said he's excited to work with him in this new position. "Whatever Chief Haas wants to do, we're going to work to achieve his goals," he said.
Rabbai has headed the department's Traffic Safety Unit since 1999. As captain, he will head criminal investigations and administrations as well as other duties. "It's nice," Rabbai said of the promotion. "I'm just going to take it day by day and learn something new." Rabbai was head of the department's supervisors union but must resign his post with the new promotion. A successor has not been named, he said.
The city also promoted Larry Mulford, 38, to sergeant on Tuesday. Mulford, an officer since 1994, will oversee the department's patrolmen. "I'm looking forward to serving our city and doing the best job we can," he said.
This will be the third round of training for Millville K-9 officer John Butschky, who will soon begin working with Tyson, who is slated for narcotics and patrol duties.
The pair will begin training together at the Atlantic County Canine Training Center in early January, entering a 16-week program teaching obedience, criminal apprehension, scent work and other drills.
On Monday, Butschky took Tyson out for some early practice. Calls of "Break!" and "Heel!" echoed across a large field behind the Millville police station where Butschky and other local and K-9 units do drills. The dogs walk in synchronized motions next to their handlers, taking verbal commands on leash and off. On the handlers' commands, the dogs run and grab onto an officer's padded arm, practicing for actual criminal apprehension.
Butschky lives in Millville with Cooper and the department's bomb-sniffing dog, Hannah. Tyson recently joined the family there, but will be kept separate until he is fully trained.
The newest addition to Butschky's brood is a Belgian Malinois from a North Carolina dog vendor, smaller in stature than his peers and with a "fireball personality," the officer said. Cooper will stay in service until Tyson is fully trained, Acting Police Chief Thomas Haas said. "We want to retire him on a good note and let him enjoy just being a dog," Butschky said. "He's protected me for the last eight years. It's the least I can do." His retirement comes after a long and courageous career, officials said.
When Cooper fractured his hips in an accident in 2008, he endured several surgeries. Doctors said he would never work again, but Cooper was back on duty after five months. "A dog and a handler bond," Haas said. "He could see that Cooper wanted to come with him. He asked if it'd be OK to bring him back and since then Cooper has been tremendous. The only reason we're looking to retire him now is because of his age." Once Butschky saw him jumping around the backyard, the officer knew Cooper was ready to return. "He's my baby," Butschky said, explaining he's had Cooper since he was a 7-month-old puppy. The pair previously worked together at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department before transferring to Millville in 2008.
Butschky and Tyson must pass the 16-week training course in order to be put in the street, Haas said. "We have to have a dog that will obey the commands of their handler," he said, noting all the department's K-9 units are extremely well behaved and have dedicated officers behind them. "It's his third dog over his career, so he's very familiar with canine handling and knows what it entails," Haas said, expressing his confidence in the K-9 unit. "He knows what he's going into." Tyson was purchased using drug forfeiture money obtained by the department, which means he won't cost taxpayers money, police said.
Millville officer Anthony Loteck also has a K-9 partner named Nitro, trained in patrol work and Sgt. Mike Colon has a patrol dog named Raiden. Both dogs will soon receive training for narcotics work, Haas said.
MILLVILLE -- The police department's only captain is retiring at the end of the year.
Capt. Wayne Smith announced his retirement to the department in a written notice Wednesday and will retire effective Jan. 1, police and city officials said Thursday. "Over my 29 years of service -- first as a police explorer, then as a special officer, and the last 25 years as a full-time officer -- I've put my heart and soul into the department, for the citizens of Millville," Smith said in a phone interview late Thursday. "It's time for somebody else to step up." Smith said his retirement also might save one or more junior officers' positions in the event of a budget shortfall.
The city declined to fill five open police positions last year to save money in the budget. Joe Derella, director of Revenue and Finance, said he has talked to Public Safety Director Dave Vanaman about possibly filling the position, but referred the matter to Vanaman. Acting Police Chief Thomas Haas said he did not have an immediate plan to fill the open supervisor position. Haas said the retirement notice came as a surprise, though he understood the personal decision. "He just thought it was time, with everything being caused with the state and how they're attempting to do changes with the pension system. He decided it was time to look for other options," Haas said. "You get to a certain period, I understand where he's coming from," he said.
Haas was made acting chief in late September, following Ed Grennon's retirement as chief. Haas was promoted to captain for one day and then immediately promoted to acting chief. Smith was promoted to captain in May 2009 and was the department's only captain -- the rank just below chief -- when Haas was promoted to chief. His annual salary is currently $95,838. Haas started with the department on Sept. 5, 1985, City Clerk Susan Robostello said.
Vanaman released a statement through e-mail, but declined to address if or when he would appoint a new captain. "After 25 years of faithful and dedicated service to the citizens of Millville, Captain Wayne Smith has elected to retire," he wrote. "I wish him well in his future endeavors as he enjoys his well-deserved retirement." Smith said his future plans include spending more time with his family. He will be using up his allotted vacation days for the remainder of the year. His scheduled last day is Jan. 1, officials said.
A police investigation conducted by the Millville Police Department over the past few weeks targeting heroin and cocaine distribution has resulted in multiple arrests and the seizure of a significant stash of drugs and contraband.
According to a press release, during an arrest police recovered a kilo of cocaine and 126 bags of heroin - along with a handgun, several thousands of dollars, and drug paraphernalia, including baggies, a plastic bag sealer, and secret containers.
Police estimate the street value of the drugs at $75,000.
In all, police arrested four people, including Byron Hughes, 40, of the 800 block of North 7th Street, who charged with possession of cocaine and heroin, possession with intent to distribute in a school zone, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, possession of a handgun during a drug offense, unlawful possession of a handgun, and possession of a handgun for unlawful purpose.
He was lodged in Cumberland County Jail in lieu of $865,000 in bail.
Police also arrested Erin Moore, 48, of the 500 block of North 5th Street, Nolan Johnson, 48, of Newark, and Vincent Moore, 38, of East Orange. The three were charged with possession and intent to distribute.
Two of the suspects were lodged in county jail on $100,000 bail, with Vincent Moore extradited to North Carolina.
The investigation was conducted by Ptlm. Matt Radcliffe and Det. Sgt. Carl Heger.
MILLVILLE - Thomas Haas has been named Millville's new acting chief of police, Mayor Tim Shannon said Sunday morning. Shannon said he only learned of Haas' appointment late Friday. Haas was named acting chief by Commissioner Dave Vanaman, who serves as director of the city's public safety department.
The appointment took effect Sunday. Haas replaces police Chief Ed Grennon, who is retiring from the force after more than two years as chief. Shannon said Haas had been with the Police Department at least 25 years. He will oversee the department and its staff of about 75 police officers
MILLVILLE — Police here say a traffic stop at High and
Green streets Thursday morning yielded a half-pound of marijuana.
The vehicle was stopped at about 9:50 a.m. after a random license-plate look-up revealed the registered owner’s license was suspended.
Police detected the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, according to Millville Police Det. Lt. Les Watson, and K-9 Ptl. John Butschky’s dog “Cooper” made several positive indications that narcotics were in the vehicle.
Police identified and released the car’s three occupants while continuing their investigation, which led to the seizure of roughly a half-pound of pot, Watson said.
Warrants were issued for the vehicle’s three occupants, charging each with possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in a school zone.
Municipal Court Judge Steven Neder set bail against each defendant at $65,000.
It turned out releasing the three occupants worked in the favor of police — at least in the case against one of them.
While arresting 33-year-old George Jones, of Millville, on the 700 block of North High Street on the warrant at about 6:50 p.m., Jones was found to be in possession of 10 bags of heroin and $3,900, Watson said.
In addition to the marijuana charges included in the warrant, Jones was charged with possession of heroin, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of heroin with intent to distribute in a school zone and failure to deliver a controlled dangerous substance to police. His bail was bumped up to $100,000.
A second suspect, Talena Nottingham, 25, of East Broad Street, was arrested on the marijuana-related warrant this afternoon when she turned herself in at police headquarters.
Watson indicated this afternoon that he anticipated the third suspect, identified as Jules Stubbs, 35, of Yellow Wood Terrace, would be turning himself in tonight with his attorney.
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