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Town Honors Seventh Precinct, Squad Officers

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and the Hempstead board honored Officers Michael Schneider, Dean Reiter, and Paul Caiaccia of the Nassau County Police Department’s Seventh Precinct, and Detective John James of the Seventh Squad, who were among the 25 officers from surrounding departments at a ceremony, on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Nathan L.H. Bennett Pavilion at the Town Hall in Hempstead.

Father Gerard Gordon, the Nassau County Police Chaplain, provided a brief invocation, and Alyse Skoller, accompanied by Gloria Elliot, performed the National Anthem. The Nassau County Police Color Guard Unit retired the colors before each of the 25 officers were honored with medals and certificates.

“From solving murders and extensive undercover work to patrolling our streets, our police honorees have distinguished themselves as local heroes,” said Kate Murray. “The town is proud to have the opportunity to recognize those who serve and protect our residents.” Murray acknowledged many local officials, friends and families of the officers, their peers and supervisors who were in attendance.

Murray said, “Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, ‘Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work.’ Our three honorees have demonstrated that teamwork often makes for successful crime solving.

“On March 1, a pickup truck crashed into a utility pole on Bellmore Avenue. As a call when out to the police, local volunteer firefighters responded. Suddenly, shots were fired by the driver of the truck, hitting one of the firefighters.

“When Police Officer Michael Schneider arrived he was notified by a bystander that the vehicle’s operator had a gun. At that point Police Officer Dean Reiter arrived on the scene, joining Schneider in approaching the vehicle. The driver than trained his rifle at Officer Schneider. As Officer Paul Caiaccia arrived on the scene and approached the other officers, multiple shots rang out.

“Officer Caiaccia drew his weapon and he and Officer Reiter took cover, districting the suspect by firing two rounds while Officer Schneider ran around the rear of the truck. Officer Schneider observed the driver pointing the gun towards the other officers. He then took aim, fired and mortally wounded the man, thereby saving the lives of his fellow officers. Upon investigation the suspect was determined to possess multiple weapons and ample ammunition.”

Additionally, Murray shared the noted accomplishment of Seventh Squad’s Detective John James. Murray said, “As one talented detective recently learned, a case-cracking lead can sometimes be as tiny as a small slip of paper. In fact, many small pieces of paper were scattered around various locations across our township. But the crime was not connected to the paper littering; it was the disturbing anti-Semitic messages written on them.

“Detective John James led an investigation to put together the pieces of the puzzle that would lead him to a hate criminal. James literally placed the tiny slips of paper together and revealed a company form, which included information about a car service appointment that took place around the time the paper scraps were discovered.

“Upon further investigation and an extensive interview process, Detective James tracked down a customer of the car service, which eventually led him to the arrest of the defendant. The work of Detective James helped protect our citizens from further bias perpetrated by this defendant.”

The officers were honored for putting their lives on the line, pursuing criminals, maintaining order and facilitating rescues in crisis situations. To conclude the 14th annual Police Service Awards ceremonies, Father Gerard Gordon gave the benediction.

Murray said, “I would like to thank the men and women in police service in Hempstead Town. These enforcement professionals make significant sacrifices every day to maintain our superlative quality of life and ensure the safety of all residents.”