Police Chief Robert Brennan presented five officers Wednesday with achievement awards for their efforts during Superstorm Sandy and a 10-month drug investigation that resulted in two dozen arrests.
Patrolman Robert Bianculli was presented the Honorable Service Award for his work during “Operation Roxicong,” an October anti-drug operation in Roxbury and Hopatcong that led to 25 arrests and eight searches.
Bianculli was a team leader during the operation, Brennan said, and conducted numerous hours of surveillance that detailed the subject’s activities, supervised controlled drug buys and maintained control of the audio and video evidence collected during the investigation.
“Bianculli displayed a manner of confidence, knowledge and professionalism,” Brennan said.
Patrolman William Sutphen was presented the Honorable Service Award for his leadership during Operation Roxicong, Brennan said.
Sutphen assisted in surveillance of the suspect, was instrumental in obtaining informants used to perform controlled purchases and helped organize the use of Fire Co. No. 3 as a processing center.
“Through the investigation and to its conclusion, Patrolman Sutphen displayed a manner of assurance, experience and professionalism,” Brennan said.
Patrolman Robert Hafner, who is also the borough’s emergency management coordinator, was presented the Honorable Service Award for his efforts in leading the response to Sandy.
The storm flattened trees, destroyed homes, blocked roads and knocked out power to the borough for two weeks.
“Hafner spent countless hours ensuring that Hopatcong was as prepared as it could be for what was about to happen,” Brennan said. “You can say that he is still responding to the obstacles that Hurricane Sandy put in our path.”
Hafner was responsible for the coordination of the borough’s response, the opening of the high school as a regional shelter and coordinated the flow information from the state, county and utilities. At the same time he answered numerous phone calls from residents and did his best to reassure them, Brennan said.
Det. Ryan Tracey began an investigation into a series of burglaries that lead to Operation Roxicong, Brennan said. For that effort, Tracey was presented the Exceptional Service Award.
Brennan said Tracey spoke with other municipalities realized the burglaries were connected. The 10-month investigation was a key blow to the sale of heroin and other drugs.
“Tracey was faced with numerous obstacles during the course of the investigation, which did not deter or sway him from his objective—ridding Hopatcong Borough of drug dealers and house burglars,” Brennan said.
Patrolman David Kraus was presented the Chief’s Achievement Award for an overall outstanding effort that has him involved in nearly all aspects of public safety.
“David Kraus has taken every opportunity to learn more, do more and give more of himself ,” Brennan said. “(He) continues to push himself to be better at everything he does.”
Kraus is an emergency medical technician, a drug recognition expert, an officer trained to recognize when a person is under the influence of drugs and able to determine what type and how much, Brennan said.
Kraus is also a member of the traffic division who was responsible for the borough getting two grants to offer special patrol efforts to enforce laws for seatbelt wearing and drunk driving.
Kraus is also a field training officer and is responsible for the training and mentoring of new officers, Brennan said. He was also instrumental in securing for the department a boat to allow for water-based patrols. The effort followed an incident when Hopatcong police were hampered in their response because they lacked a boat, Brennan said.