Life Saving Awards, Commendations and letters of recognition also presented
Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler announced the Officer of the Year for 2019 along with special awards for distinguished officers. The Sheriff’s Office annually honors its sworn officers, investigators, detectives, and dispatchers who have excelled in making Mercer County viable and its streets and courthouses safe.
This year’s Sheriff Officer of the Year is Detective Vito V. Vacirca III. The award is given annually to a well-rounded officer who has exceeded the duty requirements expected of their position and has demonstrated a distinct and positive pattern of service and professional achievement. Vacirca, a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office is assigned to the Operations Division and Fugitive Bureau.
Vacirca was selected by his peers for this prominent award for being a dedicated officer who routinely volunteers and represents the Sheriff’s Office in a positive light – both on and off the job. He is most likely one of the most highly trained individuals in the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office with certifications in arson investigations, FEMA emergency response, critical incident response, hazmat response, crisis negotiations, CPR and Narcan education, and 911 communications expertise. Each year, he plays a major role in organizing the Special Olympics of New Jersey and serves as the Assistant Chief of the West Trenton Volunteer Fire Company where he is both a firefighter and nationally certified EMT.
“Detective Vacirca’s credentials and his record accomplishments are enough to fill a filing cabinet. He is a seasoned Sheriff’s Officer with an impressive dedication to duty and a model for community service,” said Sheriff Jack Kemler.
Sheriff Kemler also presented Life Saving Awards, Commendations, and letters of recognition:
- In addition to being selected as Sheriff’s Officer of the Year, Detective Vacirca was presented with a Lifesaving Medal for successfully administering the opioid antidote, Naloxone (NARCAN) in July, to revive an unresponsive teenage drug overdose victim, thereby saving a life.
- A Civilian Service-Lifesaving Award was presented to off-duty Dispatcher James Luttrell and his daughter, Ariana Luttrell, for their heroic efforts to rescue a drowning man who was fishing at Lake Sylva on the campus of TCNJ in May of 2018. James Luttrell and his daughter were commended for their life-saving actions.
- A K-9 Commendation Medal was presented to K-9 bloodhound “Goose” and Officer David Smithson for tracking, locating, and bringing to safety a 42-year-old female, missing from her residence under midwinter weather conditions in February.
- A letter of recognition was presented to Detective James Udijohn. While on assignment to the US Marshalls Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Taskforce, Detective James Udijohn’s dedication, professionalism, and ability led to the capture of a dangerous and violent individual from the Washington, D.C. metro area in October.
- Letters of recognition were also presented to Sr. Communications Officer/Dispatcher Brian Tighe, Detective Steven Niederer, and Detective David Osnato regarding a February incident at the Mercer County Civil Courthouse whereby a person attempted to strike violently a civilian employee, shattering a protective partition window, and fled. A surveillance photo of the suspect was distributed to local media and posted on Facebook. Based on a tip, and utilizing criminal databases they were able to identify, locate, and take into custody the dangerous suspect.
Years of Service Awards were also presented to officers with 5, 10, 15, and 20 years of departmental service and those who served in the United States military. Sheriff Jack Kemler thanked individual officers for their dedication to the people of Mercer County.
A committee of peers nominated and selected the award recipients, which were presented on Friday, May 24, at the Mercer County Civil Courthouse under the direction of Sheriff Jack Kemler.