Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) today celebrated significant accomplishments and outstanding performances of employees.
"These awards are presented to personnel who have displayed acts of courage or an extraordinary devotion to duty," said Colonel Robert Evanchick, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police. "Their initiative and leadership establish a standard for others and uphold the honor of the department."
Following is a list of employees honored for their performance on the job:
- Sgt. John G. Richards, Troop P, Wilkes-Barre, was awarded Trooper of the Year for his actions at two separate incidents. The first, an incident with an armed, suicidal person, took place in June 2021. Sgt. Richards was able to successfully prevent injury or fatality during the incident. The second, which involved locating two survivors of a small plane crash, took place last November. The plane crash survivors, the pilot and his daughter, crashed shortly after taking off from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport during a snow squall. When Sgt. Richards and firefighters found the crash site in a wooded area after a five-hour search, the survivors were suffering life-threatening injuries and close to hypothermia. Sergeant Richards enlisted in the PSP in January 1994.
- Liquor Enforcement Officer Tonya M. Foster was named Liquor Enforcement Officer of the Year for her undercover investigations of speakeasies in dangerous, high crime areas in and around Pittsburgh. LEO Foster's efforts have resulted in multiple search warrants executed and multiple charges filed for illegal sales of alcohol.
- Police Communications Operator Dina A. Gambone, Troop K, Philadelphia, received the Police Communications Operator of the Year Award for actions that saved the life of a citizen who called 911 after an attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest. Gambone encouraged the man to remain calm and alert, and she led first responders to him after working tirelessly to determine his location.
- Dedra K. Brosius, a management technician in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, was recognized as Employee of the Year for her dedicated service, specifically her meticulous management of all federal funding to the Analytical Intelligence Section through the Homeland Security Grant Program.
- Receiving State Police Commendation Medals were Trooper Clinton B. Mearkle, Troop G, McConnellsburg, who freed a driver trapped in a burning vehicle after a crash in Fulton County, and Troopers Dayton M. Dell and Tristan Q. Shoopack, Troop L, Jonestown, who rescued two people from the strong current of a low-head dam in Union Township. Trooper Merkle enlisted in April 2016, Trooper Dell in September 2017.
- Two troopers were presented with the Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner's Letter of Commendation. Trooper Tony J. Anthony, Troop A, Greensburg, entered a burning home to alert the owners, allowing the coupe to safely escape with their two children, then reentered the house to retrieve the family's two dogs. Corporal Craig K. Johnson, Troop B, Pittsburgh, performed CPR to save a citizen's life. Trooper Anthony enlisted in June 2017, Corporal Johnson in 2005.
Commissioner's Area Command Significant Achievement Awards were presented to a group of personnel within each area command for an accomplishment that clearly distinguishes them and enhances the prestige of the department:
- The Area I recipients are members of the Troop B Vice Unit, which had record breaking benchmarks for drugs and money seized last year. The unit initiated over 180 criminal cases and made more than 160 criminal arrests.
- The Area II recipients are members of the Troop A, Greensburg Criminal Investigation Unit for their efforts in solving an international fraud investigation. Greensburg CIU apprehended three members of the Panama-based crime ring for defrauding elderly Pennsylvania residents of more than $400,000.
- The Area III recipients are members of Troop R who investigated the fatal stabbing of a Carbondale woman. A suspect was arrested following an extensive canvas of the victim's neighborhood, forensic analysis of multiple pieces of evidence, and methodic tracing of the suspect's whereabouts through various surveillance videos.
- The Area IV recipients are members of Area IV who apprehended two suspects for a fatal shooting in Chester County. Investigators conducted over 100 interviews during the first 48 hours, canvassed and obtained over 300 hours of video surveillance and license plate reader records, and obtained over 30 search warrants and court orders for the case.
For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACT: Myles Snyder, 717-783-5556
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