SPARTA -- Nineteen law enforcement officers were honored for their courageous actions in the line of duty during a 200 Club of Sussex County Awards Ceremony Monday.
Patrolman Christopher Geene and Patrolman James Lame, of the Ogdensburg Police Department, were honored for their actions in attempting to save a man from drowning in Heater's Pond on Memorial Day.
At approximately 6:15 p.m. Monday, May 30, the officers were dispatched to Heater's Pond for a report of an unresponsive male in the water.
Geene and Lame entered the water, located the male, removed him from the pond and began CPR. The man later died at Newton Medical Center.
Both Geene and Lame received the "Team Merit Award" for a rescue made under risky conditions.
"I've been with these guys for 16 years, we started in the academy together and grew up in Ogdensburg together," said Ogdensburg Police Chief Stephen Taylor. "They made a decision that put themselves at risk because they decided the victim was more important. They went above and beyond.
On May 13, Sgt. William Cisko, Trooper I Richard Nugnes and Trooper Robert Hunt responded to a home in Wantage for a report of a domestic violence incident.
Upon arrival, the troopers heard a woman's screams and forced their way into the home where they found a male assaulting a woman with a large knife.
The troopers arrested the individual and the victim survived her injuries.
The trio were awarded the "Team Valor Award" for courage under perilous conditions.
"Anything could have happened to them," said Lt. John Widovic, of the New Jersey State Police. "They stepped up and made a split-second decision and could have shot him, but they did not and jumped him. They did what they had to do."
One Newton officer and five New Jersey State Troopers were also awarded the "Team Valor Award" for their efforts to disarm an emotionally disturbed person who had a loaded assault rifle on his lap in his yard.
On March 8, Sgt. Frank Philhower, of the Newton Police Department responded to a town residence in response to a report of a suicidal male with a shotgun and upon arrival observed the man with an assault rifle.
Philhower spoke with the man who eventually sat down and placed the gun in his lap.
Sgt. Michael Verheeck, Trooper I Wallace Zosche, Trooper II Matthew Meehan, Trooper Anthony DeMarco and Trooper Antonio DeMattia, of the New Jersey State Police arrived as backup and overwhelmed the man and disarmed him. The man was then treated for a mental condition.
Newton Police Chief Michael Richards said the effort between the two police forces showed team work, but also thanked the 200 Club for their efforts as well.
"A lot of people are taking shots at police officers, but there is such great community support here from the 200 Club and the local businesses that support the 200 Club," Richards said.
The 200 Club is a nonprofit organization whose name refers to the $200 per year in dues paid by each member. It was founded in 1991 to provide financial assistance to the families of emergency first responders -- police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians -- who have fallen in the line of duty. In the event of a tragedy, the club can provide up to $10,000 to the families of public servants to use to address any financial concerns.
In addition to caring for families who lose loved ones in the line of duty, the 200 Club also gives scholarships to children of first responders.
Monday's ceremony was sponsored by The Mohawk House, Sparta FOP Lodge 26 and Eric Nielsen from the Nielsen Auto Group.
On June 3, 2015, officers from the Byram Township Police Department and the Andover Township Police Department responded to a Byram Township home where a welfare check had been requested after neighbors heard a gunshot.
Officers talked with the man who was in the home before he exited with two guns and stood on the porch.
He told officers to "take the shot," and threw a handgun at officers being pointing a shotgun at a single officer. An officer then fired a single shot, hitting the man, who later died at the hospital.
From the Byram Police Department, Lt. Peter Zabita, Sgt. Guy Mariani, Detective Robert Tierney, Officer John D'Onofrio, Officer Todd Sodana and Officer Todd Lisa, received the award and from the Andover Township Police Department Sgt. Brian Kithcart and Officer Matthew Puccio were honored.
"We did everything we could to keep him alive," said Zabita, who is now the department's chief. "He was having none of it. We went in together and we went out together."
An event like on that "goes a long way to show how we rely on one another," said Andover Chief Eric Danielson. "It is always nice to see a fellow brother in blue support us as we support them."
"The sacrifices you all make are tremendous," said Senator Steven Oroho. "Kids always say when they grow up they want to be a policeman or a fireman. Why? It's because you all make the community feel safe and secure. We thank you."