Greenbelt police officers, firefighters and EMT were honored for their exemplary service at the 25th annual Public Safety Awards held at the American Legion Post 136.
Honorees at the Nov. 2 event included Greenbelt police officer of the year, volunteer fire department and rescue squad firefighter of the year, volunteer fire department and rescue squad EMT of the year, U.S. Park Police officer of the year, and the public works department employee of the year.
Mike Moore, commander of American Legion Post 136, gave the opening remarks for the ceremony.
Higher-ranking officials in each department introduced the honorees and told admirable stories of their service in the field.
The ceremony began with a social hour and was followed by dinner and the main ceremony. In 1998, the Greenbelt Post 136 began the program to recognize and honor officers, firefighters and EMT who had displayed unusual excellence over the course of the year.
Mayor Judith Davis expressed her appreciation for the first responders work in the city during Hurricane Sandy.
“I know that our police department, our firefighters, our public works people were on duty,” Davis said. “They make sure that we are safe, they come to us when we need help and they make sure that our city remains clean and orderly and it’s a beautiful place to be.”
Police office of the year was awarded to 18-year veteran Cpl. John “Michael” Dewey. Police Chief Jim Craze presented the award to Dewey.
“Mike is one of those rare individuals that seem to have no limit in their capacity to seek out new challenges, learn new things, and find additional avenues to serve their department and their city,” Craze said.
Officer Benjamin Tomasiello was awarded the park police officer of the year. This is the first time he has been recognized. Tomasiello began his career with the park police in 2009. He was traditionally assigned downtown DC but was reassigned to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in 2009. His sergeant nominated him for his outstanding patrol of the parkway.
Over the past year Tomasiello has made 48 arrests, issued more than 450 traffic violations, and handled 124 public service calls and more than 40 motor vehicle crashes.
Lt. Augustine Garcia was honored as the firefighter of the year and Sarah Kessel was honored as the EMT of the year. Garcia was promoted this year and Kessel personally funded her education to become an EMT. Kessel began the application process to become an EMT in March of this year.
The recipient of this year’s public works employee of the year was David Gross. Gross has devoted more than 20 years to the city of Greenbelt. He is an experienced truck driver and public works and maintenance worker. He is also a key member of the snow removal crew.
As the host of the night, Moore gave the final words.
“Public service is a calling not a job,” Moore said. “As first responders you hold a special place in our hearts and minds.”