The 200 Club of Monmouth County is holding their annual valor awards Friday which honors police, fire and first aid responders who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

There are more than one hundred first responders – including law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, dispatchers, first aid members and paramedics being honored.

The Awards being presented include Certificates of Recognition, Plaque Awards, Commendation Awards, Merit Awards up to the highest award, the Valor Award.

Valor Awards are given out to first responders in recognition of exceptional bravery, often when they put their own life at risk to save and protect others

This year six police officers will be receiving Valor Awards from three different Monmouth County police departments, Asbury Park (4), Long Branch (1) and Manalapan (1).

“The 200 Club of Monmouth County is proud to recognize the outstanding achievements of first responders. Today, we honor more than 100 first responders for exemplary service to our community. Among them are six police officers receiving our highest honor, the Valor Award, in recognition of particularly exceptional bravery, putting their own lives at risk to save and protect others. They deserve, and have earned, our utmost respect and gratitude,” Kim Guadagno, the President of The 200 Club of Monmouth County, said.

Ben Lucarelli, the treasurer with the 200 Club of Monmouth County, says a lot of what these first responders do is part of their job but on certain occasions and situations they find a way to go above their training.

"These are incredibly dedicated individuals, they're highly trained and put their lives on the line for the betterment of society," Lucarelli said. "We feel it's important to recognize that and to honor them with commendations, merits and valor. It's a very difficult job and not many people understand the true dangers they (first responders) face and things can truly turn on a dime and change and all of the sudden they can be in a very dangerous situation."

Valor Award. (Think Media Communications)
Valor Award. (Think Media Communications)

One of the valor recipients for the 2019 awards is Manalapan Township Patrolman Adam Sosnowski who in August of 2018 averted a suicide-by-cop situation by disarming a suicidal man.

Lucarelli says Officer Sosnowki's training kicked in and because of it, a life was saved.

"It's a perfect example of heroism," Lucarelli said. "Officer Sosnowski put his own life in jeopardy to save the life of another and that happened to be the perpetrator that day."

K-9 Officer Adam Sosnowski recounted what happened during his shift.

A call came in about an allegedly suicidal man and someone Officer Sosnowski knew from prior incidents including one that took place right before when the same man was transported to the hospital for an evaluation.

Officer Sosnowski went up to the house and convinced the man to come outside.

“He came out and appeared agitated, but the next thing you know, he reaches into his front pocket and pulls a handgun out," Sosnowski said.

He believed the man pointed the gun at him because he wanted to be shot and killed.

Manalapan Police Chief, Michael Fountain, says that a physical struggle ensued between Sosnowski and the man, but his officer managed to free the firearm from the man’s hand and subdue and handcuff him.

“Officer Sosnowski responded to what he thought was a deadly force situation with courage and the will to win," Fountain said.

For these heroic actions, Officer Sosnowski is being award the Valor Award by the 200 Club of Monmouth County.

“Well, my whole job is what-ifs. Almost every call you are thinking what if, what if, what if. You try to prepare yourself before the actual situation happens. Like every call you get, you are driving going through scenarios, this could happen, that could happen, just kinda trying to prepare yourself," Sosnowski said. "I guess it may have ran through my head. I never thought that exact thing would happen at that moment. I’m just glad my past training kicked in. I’m just glad. It could have went way different, you are right. If there was more distance between us, it may have went differently. I'm glad it worked out the way it did, and I was as close as I was to him…‘cause he’s alive now and not hurt.

“I am definitely not a hero. There are definitely many other heroes in the world. I just think it was the right circumstances at the right time, with the right person. Thank God I had the proper training.”

When asked how he felt about being honored with the Valor Award, Sosnowski said, “Anything pro-law enforcement is amazing. And, the 200 Club is definitely the top of the top in New Jersey, and it truly is an honor to even be recognized by them.”

Here are the five other officers receiving the valor award:

  • Officers Timothy Griswold and John Sarno, Asbury Park Police Department’s Street Crime Unit, “arrested a gunman who was carrying a semi-automatic pistol after a dangerous foot pursuit through the many obstacles of backyards and adjoining streets”.
  • Officer Daniel Savastano, Asbury Park Police Department’s Street Crime Unit,“conducted a field stop on a group and detected a concealed handgun, a foot pursuit ensued leading to the suspect’s arrest".
  • Sergeant Alastair Sweeney, Asbury Park Police Department’s Street Crime Unit, “managed to disarm a gunman after a foot pursuit and violent struggle”.
  • Officer George Samol, Long Branch Police Department, “wrestled a suspected murderer for his gun at the crime scene, disarmed him, and arrested him without incident".

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