NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Falls police honored their finest on Friday at the department’s annual awards ceremony at city hall.
Veteran Officer Don Booth was presented with the top honor for uniformed patrol officers, the Leo Maj Memorial Award.
The Maj Award is presented annually to a member of the Uniformed Division of the Falls Police Department who has demonstrated a commitment to overall excellence to duty, his or her community, co-workers and family.
Booth is an almost 10-year veteran who previously served in the U.S. Marine Corps, both as an active duty member and as a reservist. A popular officer, both with his peers and with Falls residents, Booth is a member of the department’s Honor Guard and the Animal Control Unit.
He also works as a peer counselor assisting fellow officers in dealing with traumatic events.
Officer Ben Shirback was selected for the Aram Bass Memorial Award.
The award, given in memory of U.S. Army SSG. Aram Bass, recognizes the work of an officer with less than five years of experience who demonstrates diligence and integrity to duty and shows a willingness to learn and advance forward in a law enforcement career.
Shirback, who joined the Falls department from another local law enforcement agency in 2013, was described as having a “rapport with fellow officers and supervisors and displaying a professional attitude at all times.” He has also become one of the youngest Field Training Officers in the department’s history.
The William Gee Memorial Award was presented to Officer Joshua Miller. The award, named for an immensely popular former officer, is given to an officer with a minimum of five years of service who demonstrates a professional attitude, concise report writing and investigative techniques, good case preparation and fosters a good rapport and interaction with other divisions and departments.
Miller is an almost eight-year veteran of the department’s Patrol Division. In announcing the award, Miller was described as having distinguished himself by conducting thorough and concise investigations and by providing an example for younger officers.
The 2017 Outstanding Detective Award went to veteran Det. William Smith.
In two decades as a detective, Smith has worked on numerous high-profile cases. Smith, a quiet and low-key investigator, became a role model for an increasingly younger department, serving as a mentor and role model while stressing thoroughness and attention to detail.
Officer Dave Bower received the department’s Distinguished Volunteer Service Award.
Given annually to celebrate volunteer efforts by officers, Bower, who serves as the department’s Animal Control Officer, was cited for his “great working relationship with the community.” Bower is an active supporter and member of the SPCA of Niagara.
Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto praised the award winners and added to their ranks by presenting his Chief’s Award to 16 recipients. The award is presented to an “officer who has displayed an outstanding contribution to the overall performance of the Niagara Falls Police Department.”
DalPorto tapped deputy superintendents Carlton Cain, Nicholas Ligammari, Captains Kelly Rizzo, Michael Trane, Roger Freeman, Theodore Weed, Lieutenants Ronald Cirrito, Michael Drake, Thomas Licata, Detectives John Faso, Daniel Bird, Joseph Giaquinto, Officers Patrick Clifton, Paul Kudela, Thomas Arist and Retired Captain Ernest Palmer to receive the awards.
The police superintendent noted that in 2010 the department was placed under a Stipulated Order of Consent from the New York State Attorney Generals Office relative to departmental policy and procedures. In 2013, several department members were placed on a “compliance team” to expedite and implement necessary changes to the department’s policies and practices in order to comply with the order.
DalPorto said the team spent countless hours on the project and “their dedication to duty far surpassed what is expected of an officer.”
In 2015, DalPorto said “the outstanding reputation of the department was restored with a renewed trust between the police and the public.”
Weed and Cirrito were honored for their roles in initiating a Crisis Intervention Team Program. DalPorto pointed out that of 18,000 enforcement agencies nationwide, the Falls police department is among just 3,000 agencies that have CIT programs.