Published March 17, 2023
We recognize the great work that the employees of the University at Buffalo Police Department have performed during the fourth quarter of 2022.
Normally, we have more than a few incidents to consider when selecting individuals to be recognized on a quarterly basis. However, the final quarter of 2022 was unlike any other.
We are specifically mentioning over twenty people, and several more than once.
These were all critical situations with challenging circumstances, and our officers and investigators performed admirably.
The circumstances surrounding a fatal stabbing incident which occurred near the Ellicott Complex on October 14th, 2022, were exceptionally challenging and the list of UPD members who performed admirably is quite long. However, the contributions of the following individuals were both exceptional and instrumental in solving this case.
The first responding officers did everything possible to save the victim’s life, and also to identify, preserve, and collect potential evidence, information, and witnesses. Officers reported on location one minute after being dispatched. Lt. Bacon provided supervision and leadership for the initial response. Officers Guzman, Galmarini, and Revelas performed CPR on the victim and took steps to control bleeding. As EMT’s took over care, Officer Galamrini and Guzman secured the scene. Officer Galamrini located an important eyewitness while canvassing the area and also interviewed an individual close to the victim. Officer Guzman interviewed the initial caller at the scene and spoke with the victim’s mother over the phone. Officer Sprigg provided an escort to expedite the ambulance to the scene and then to ECMC, where he collected and relayed important information before returning to campus to canvass the area for witnesses. During their canvass, Officers Sprigg and Puerner followed up on a social media post to successfully connect with an important eyewitness witness.
The entire UPD investigative team were actively involved and Investigator Guy Harvey served as the lead investigator. His thoughtful and tenacious effort to solve this case continued over the course of several months. Working closely with the Erie County District Attorney Office, Investigator Harvey successfully concluded an exhaustive effort to uncover any and all available evidence in order to determine a factual account of what transpired.
It is important to note that this case began as a report of a male with a chest wound. He had no identification on his person and the individuals who accompanied him provided false information to an RA and fled the area before officers arrived. The only individual close to the victim who came to the scene after the incident that night, refused to provide important information. Everyone directly involved in the incident fled the area, had reason to hide the facts, and some had either destroyed or failed to turn over important pieces of evidence. Despite these challenges, everyone directly involved in the incident were identified and interviewed. Witness testimony, together with the evidence collected, provided a consistent account of what transpired, and the facts of the case were successfully brought before a grand jury for a decision. This outcome would not have been possible without the dedicated professionalism displayed by the members of this department who responded to the scene, and who assisted with the investigation that followed.
For their exceptional efforts in response to an exceptionally challenging situation, it is our pleasure to recognize these individuals as our Officers of the Quarter.
Solving the case was a top priority for University Police. The investigators, officers and staff within the University Police Department continue to extend their sincerest condolences to the Lewis family.
Officer Sprigg received numerous nominations for his lifesaving actions on November 13th, 2022, when he saved a choking victim at Flint Village Apartments. Officers Sprigg and Connor Schiffman were dispatched for a report of a female choking on food. Upon arrival, they found the student on her knees in the hallway. She was unresponsive, choking, not breathing, and her face was turning purple. Officer Sprigg took immediate action by quickly attempting to view the obstruction, then performing the Heimlich maneuver. After multiple attempts, he was eventually able to free the obstruction and the student resumed breathing. The responding ambulance crew credited Officer Sprigg's quick response and decisive actions for saving this person’s life.
Officer Sprigg’s colleagues also made note of his actions during the blizzard, the stabbing investigation, as well as his daily commitment to professional service and general positive attitude – “Above all, Officer Sprigg treats everyone as an equal and with respect. I can count on him to greet the dispatch shift change every morning with a smile on his face that starts the day on a positive note.”
For his life saving actions and dedication to professional service, it is our pleasure to additionally recognize Officer Christopher Sprigg as Officer of the Quarter.
On December 14, 2022, UPD received a call reporting that an employee had passed out and was unconscious, but was breathing. The caller had called and hung up multiple times before the dispatcher was able to obtain the necessary information. The victim was in the Student Union, but the exact location was not initially provided. Officer Virchau was dispatched, but Officer Dobson was already in the area and responded to the scene as well. Officer Dobson located the victim lying on the floor and observed he was exhibiting agonal breathing. She contacted dispatch to expedite the ambulance as Officer Virchau arrived with an AED. Officers Virchau and Dobson connected the AED which delivered a shock. Officer Virchau then performed multiple cycles of CPR and was relieved by Officer Dobson who also performed multiple cycles of CPR. Lt. Urbanek responded and relieved Officer Dobson. Lt. Urbanek performed multiple cycles of CPR and the AED also delivered a second shock. The victim was turned over to Twin City ambulance who reported that he had a restored heart beat and breathing at the time he was transported. Under hospital care, the employee was able to make a successful recovery.
For their quick and effective first aid response, Officers Dobson, Virchau, and Lt. Urbanek are also recognized as our Officers of the Quarter.
For approximately fifty straight hours on December 23rd - 25th, 2022, during extreme blizzard conditions which caused them to be stranded at work and prevented other staff members from reaching the campus, these dedicated individuals were required to remain on continuous duty, under dangerous and stressful conditions, away from their families and without adequate food and sleep. Their successful efforts to rescue and shelter more than fifty people stranded in their vehicles on surrounding roadways, and to protect our students living on campus during this storm, undoubtedly saved lives. Several officers and dispatchers who were working during the blizzard wanted to recognize the leadership provided by Lieutenants Fletcher and Urbanek during this challenging experience. As one described, “Their impeccable leadership, decision-making, and approachability during all three days of the blizzard made it easier for all of the officers, and dispatch, to operate with more confidence.” Several UPD members also wanted to include the high-lift operators from UB Facilities as honorary UPD Employees of the Quarter. Carl Mitri on the north campus and Albert Marino on the south campus worked tirelessly without complaint, and everything that UPD was able to accomplish would not have been possible without their assistance.
With our respect and gratitude, it is our sincere pleasure to recognize all of these individuals as our Employees of the Quarter.
Honorable mention for this quarter also goes to Officers Matthew Kostek and Shannon Sweeney who are being recognized for their actions on December 3rd, 2022, when they administered Narcan to help revive an unresponsive female who had overdosed on Percocet in Hadley Village Apartments.