Photo by Theo Tate
Officer Adam Connor of the Granite City Police Department was presented an Above and Beyond certificate during the Dec. 15 Granite City Council meeting. Sgt. Ken Wojtowicz also earned an Above and Beyond award. (From left) Capt. Craig Knight, Wojtowicz, Connor and Lt. George McLaren.
GRANITE CITY — Nine members of the Granite City Police Department received early Christmas presents at the end-of-year Granite City Council meeting on Dec. 15.
Sgts. Nick Novacich, Ken Wojtowicz and Mike Parkinson and Officers John Hadley, Dean Bastilla, Jacob Koepp, Joe Nicolussi, Adam Connor and Nic Roberts earned commendations for heroism. They were presented certificates in front of their family members and the City Council in a 15-minute ceremony.
“I think we all know by watching TV and through the media that there’s no such thing as a normal run anymore for you guys,” Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer said. “It doesn’t matter if it is a traffic stop or a guy in a park sitting around. You never know what’s going to happen. I, as a mayor, appreciate everything you do. I support you guys. I think we have a great police department and I never go to bed worrying anymore. So I want you guys to keep that up and keep fighting and I’m sure I speak for the council we’ll be here to support you guys. We appreciate your job.”
Novacich, Hadley and Bastilla received life-saving commendations for lifting a car off an ejected driver earlier this year.
“The officers were dispatched to the city of Venice,” Granite City Police Capt. Craig Knight said. “There were some shots fired and there were numerous victims struck by bullets. Venice put an all-points bulletin for assistance and these three officers went by and they responded via Madison Avenue. Unknown at the time, one of the gunshot victims has been put into a car in Venice and was being rushed to the hospital in Granite City at high speed as the officers approached Venice. Seconds apart, the vehicles crashed at high speed as they entered Granite City on 15th and Madison Avenue.”
Knight said Hadley, Novacich and Bastilla assessed that the car was traveling more than 100 mph. The vehicle overturned several times and ejected the passenger, who was the gunshot victim and died at the scene.
“The officers quickly focused their attention to the vehicle, which was upside down,” Knight said. “They noticed that the driver was pinned underneath the car and was showing signs of life. They picked the car up as Detective Bastilla went underneath the car to pull the victim to safety.”
Koepp and Nicolussi received an award for locating an apartment fire and saving occupants at 25th and Washington Street earlier this year.
“Officer Koepp was patrolling 25th and Washington as the end of his midnight shift occurred at 6:17 in the morning,” Knight said. “Officer Koepp was detecting smoke in the area followed by smoke in the apartments at 25th and Washington. He summoned the Granite City Fire Department as well as his backup. Officer Nicolussi then arrived and both as a team entered the apartment building. They quickly saw that the apartment fire smoke was coming out of apartment 5. They made it through the front door and found the kitchen on fire from a cooking element on the stove that was quickly spreading. Officer Koepp located two sleeping tenants in a bedroom as Officer Nicolussi extinguished the fire. Both evacuated the building safely as the Granite City Fire Department arrived with no injury.”
Wojtowicz and Connor received an Above and Beyond award for discovering a burglary on Aug. 31.
“Prior to August 31, the team of burglars was working Granite City over,” Knight said. “They were up to $1,000 of property from both residential and commercial businesses, especially storage sheds. We believe to have a photo that was captured under surveillance camera on one of the suspects. No name with a face; it was only an identifying tattoo. On August 31, Wojtowicz and Connor were dispatched through a routine retail theft of a candy bar at the BP gas station in downtown Granite City. Upon arriving, as usual at this type of call, the suspects were gone. So instead of returning to routine patrol duties, both officers asked to review the video surveillance in case they run into the suspect later during their shift. Upon reviewing the video, they quickly recognized the suspect captured in the video at BP to be the same burglary suspect being sought by investigators in our department. But more importantly, they recognized by name two of his accomplices that were captured in the video.”
Knight said Connor and Wojtowicz obtained the address of the suspect.
“They knocked on the door and it was answered by a female,” he said. “They got permission to go into the house and upon entry found items that led to search warrants within the hours involved. The suspect was also in custody as both of these officers witnessed the recovery of $1,000 of the personal property that some of the victims involved will never see again.”
Parkinson and Roberts received a valor award for negotiating the surrender of an armed gunman with a female hostage on Sept. 24.
“Sgt. Parkinson and Officer Roberts and responded over to Circle Drive in North Granite to a home,” Knight said. “They were on a routine mission to gather further information of a case that they were working. Upon meeting a female at the house, the female quietly alerted the officers that there was an armed gunman who retreated to a rear bedroom with the female. They immediately summoned for assistance and evacuated the home of the female and the other occupants. Within minutes, all available officers responded to the scene. Parkinson and Roberts had a choice to make — retreat or stay in the hallway. The suspect had alerted police ‘I’ll shoot it out with you before I go back to prison.’”
Knight said after the officers began negotiations with the suspect, the female was released without harm, the suspect surrendered and a loaded gun was recovered from the bedroom.
Knight said he was proud of the efforts from all nine police officers.
“This is an example of officers doing the right thing for the right reasons,” the Granite City police captain said.