Thursday, April 02, 2015
Legion Honors Utica Cops for Stopping Gunman, Curbing Illegal Drug & Gun Use
UTICA – Utica American Legion Post 229 is honoring two Utica cops as American Legion Police Officers of the Year – one for stopping a gunmen who had just shot four people and the other for curbing heroin and illegal gun use. They are Officer John Scaramuzzino and Investigator Paul Paladino.
Post 229 Law-and-Order Chair Paul Wojcik presented the awards April 2 at a dinner at the North Utica post attended by Legion Family members, city and police officials, and families of the honorees.
SCARAMUZZINO was patrolling an area targeted for its gun violence around 2 a.m. last Oct. 11 when he heard gunshots. He turned his patrol car toward the sound, saw muzzle flashes and heard several more shots. He spotted the suspect among a crowd of people leaving a nightclub, and exited his patrol car to chase the suspect on foot.
“Officer Scaramuzzino yelled to him to stop running and to let him see his hands,” Police Chief Mark Williams noted. “The suspect did not comply and he pulled out a revolver from his waistband and pointed it at Officer Scaramuzzino.” The officer took aim with his own handgun and shot the suspect, the chief said, “stopping the threat to himself and others.” The subsequent investigation determined the suspect had just shot four victims outside the nightclub. Scaramuzzino was assigned to a GIVE (Gun Involved Violence Elimination) detail that night, partnered with State Trooper Christopher Swienton. The GIVE initiative targets areas known for gun violence in an effort to remove illegal firearms and those who possess them from the street.
SINCE JOINING the Utica PD’s METRO Narcotics Unit in June 2014, Investigator Paul Paladino has aggressively pursued numerous narcotics and weapons cases, leading to 125 arrests and seizure of 19 illegally possessed firearms. “With the explosion of heroin usage in our local area and the devastation that it has caused to the addicts and their families,” Chief Mark Williams said, Paladino has “dedicated himself to heroin-related investigations “to save lives.”
Paladino joined the PD in June 2008, first assigned to the Patrol Unit, and then in August 2011, assigned to the Community Policing Unit. During that time he was “a dedicated and an aggressive proactive police officer, making hundreds of narcotics related arrests” and assisting the narcotics unit, the chief said. Paladino is also a member of the METRO SWAT Team and a certified police instructor.