8th district officers honored for stellar service

The 8th Police District of Philadelphia holds an awards ceremonyat Holy Family University, honoring eight police officers for outstanding performance on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, Philadelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouchnikova)

Suicide attempts, gunpoint robberies, home invasions, road rage assaults, attempted rapes and carjackings: the 8th Police District has seen all of those crimes and a lot more during the second half of 2012.

But all of these incidents have at least one thing in common. Patrol officers were the community’s first line of defense in each case.

Community leaders and police supervisors gathered recently at Holy Family University to pay tribute to some of the 8th district officers who have made the greatest crimefighting impact during the last six months. Seven members of the district collected Officer of the Month awards.

“There were real people who really needed help and the officers stepped up to the plate and did it,” said Capt. Len Ditchkofsky, commander of the 8th district.

Officer Dan Richardson was selected as the June winner for capturing a robbery suspect soon after he allegedly mugged a woman on the Route 66 SEPTA trolley. The incident happened on June 24 at 8:35 p.m. When the trolley stopped at 7200 Frankford Ave., a man approached the victim and her daughter, then grabbed the woman’s purse and cell phone before fleeing to the street. A short time later, Richardson spotted a man fitting the description of the suspect on the 8300 block of Frankford Ave. The officer arrested the suspect after the victims identified him as the culprit.

Mark Mazzoni and Andy Jerico were named Officers of the Month for July for capturing an armed robbery suspect. The crime occurred at a local Metro PCS store on July 1. The robber allegedly pointed a gun to a woman clerk’s head, demanded money from the register and stole her purse. He fled before police arrived.

The crime remained unsolved on July 7 when Mazzoni and Jerico were called to the 8300 block of Frankford Ave. to investigate a report that a man fitting the description of the robber was in Pennypack Park. The officers arrested the man after an eyewitness to the crime identified him as the robber.

Also during July, Mazzoni arrested a man and woman who allegedly broke into a house on the 9200 block of Melrose St., where a girl was home at the time. Nobody was injured during the crime, which occurred July 13. Surveillance video helped Mazzoni identify the burglars, who were arrested two days later after boarding a SEPTA bus on the 7400 block of Torresdale Ave.

Finally, on July 18, Mazzoni responded to a report of a carjacking at Woodhaven and Knights roads. The thief fled in the victim’s car to the area of Academy Road and Brandon Drive, but the victim was able to track him down and point him out to the arriving officer. Mazzoni pulled the thief from the car and arrested him.

No awards were given for August.

The September Officers of the Month were Christopher Adams, Colleen McLain and Rassheem Morris. They were honored for saving a woman who threatened to shoot herself in the head. The incident occurred in a house on the 4700 block of Ashburner St. on Sept. 9. They found the woman in a bedroom with her brother. She had a loaded gun pointed at her head.

The officers asked the brother to leave the room, then convinced the woman to put down the weapon. She was taken into custody for psychiatric evaluation.

Officer Harry Taylor was involved in several major cases in October to earn top honors for that month. On Oct. 2, a girl was reported missing from the Stephen Decatur School in Parkwood. Taylor took the report and was on his way to the girl’s home when he spotted her walking on the 3200 block of Belgreen St. At the same time, he was notified by police radio that a girl had broken into a house on the 12600 block of Calpine Road and threatened a woman resident with a barbecue fork.

Taylor stopped the girl and later determined that she was the missing student and the home invasion suspect. She was charged with the break-in.

On Oct. 11, a motorist allegedly pointed a gun at a FedEx delivery driver in a road rage incident at Grant Avenue and Ashton Road. A short time later, Taylor spotted a car on the 9100 block of Academy Road that fit the description of the one driven by the gunman. Taylor stopped the suspect and arrested him.

On Oct. 22, Taylor arrested two males who allegedly tried to break into a home on the 8000 block of Rowland Ave. The officer spotted the suspects walking on the 7800 block of Crispin St. shortly after the crime.

Adams earned another Officer of the Month award for November after he chased down a suspect in the sexual assault at knifepoint of a 19-year-old woman. The crime occurred Nov. 22 in the laundry room of an apartment building on the 2800 block of Walnut Hill St. The woman fought off her attacker, who ran away, only for witnesses to chase him.

Adams picked up the foot pursuit and caught the suspect on the 2800 block of Welsh Road. He arrested the alleged attacker after the victim identified him. ••

Reporter William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com