Campus News

UPD personnel among recipients of 2019 SUNY Police Awards

UPD members DJ Rehberg, Kristen Herr, Therese Banas and Alaina Reid.

From left: Investigator DJ Rehberg, Dispatcher Kristen Herr, Investigator Therese Banas and Dispatcher Alaina Reid were among six members of University Police who were recognized by the SUNY Chiefs Association with 2019 Professional Service Awards for their commitment to public safety. Not pictured: Officers Sergio DiSanto and Eric Radder. Photo: Douglas Levere

By MICHAEL ANDREI

Published December 11, 2019

“While all of our officers and staff members have the training, experience and quick-thinking to protect students on and off campus, these members of UB’s police department demonstrated an ability to go above and beyond expectations to save lives and keep our campus and community safe.”
Chief of Police Chris Bartolomei

Six members of UB’s police department were among members of SUNY police departments recognized by the SUNY Chiefs Association for heroism and professional commitment to public safety.

The 2019 Police Awards honored lieutenants, officers and staff who played a key role in lifesaving events in the past year, as well as others on the New York University Police force for outstanding professional service.

The awards were presented Nov. 12 during a ceremony in Saratoga Springs.

“We are proud to acknowledge the work of members of our university police department as they serve the public and the campus, and at times make very big contributions to the lives of UB students and our campus visitors,” says UB Chief of Police Chris Bartolomei.

“It’s a tough job to have. While all of our officers and staff members have the training, experience and quick-thinking to protect students on and off campus, these members of UB’s police department demonstrated an ability to go above and beyond expectations to keep our campus and community safe,” Bartolomei says.

Each of the six members of UB’s police department who were recognized received the Professional Service Award from the SUNY Chiefs Association.

Investigator Therese Banas and Dispatcher Alaina Reid

The obligation and commitment to provide a safe and secure environment for students and other members of the university community are members of the University Police Department take very seriously. During the spring 2019 semester, the department was focused on a domestic violence stalking case involving a female UB student on the North Campus. University police had worked closely with professional staff from Campus Living to provide an emergency relocation for the student on April 27.

Despite the protective measures taken, a suspicious person was reported in the area of the student’s new apartment. Working through details provided by the student’s new neighbors, Dispatcher Alaina Reid started reviewing hundreds of hours of recorded video from the areas around the apartment building. Reid was able to retrieve images of the suspect, searching areas around the new apartment.

With this information, Investigator Therese Banas collaborated with UB Information Technology to develop digital evidence verifying the suspect’s activity. Banas then worked with UBIT to trace the IP address of the suspect’s cell phone through the UB wireless network.

The investigative work by Reid and Banas subsequently led to the arrest of the stalker.

Officers Sergio DiSanto and Eric Radder

Shortly after midnight on Feb. 2, 2019, University Police Officers Sergio DiSanto and Eric Radder responded to a request for assistance from the Amherst Police Department. DiSanto and Radder learned Amherst Officer John Rusch was on foot pursuing a suspect in a sexual assault that had just occurred at a motel  on Main Street in Amherst.

Rusch, DiSanto and Radder caught up with the suspect at Main Street and Kenmore Avenue, where the individual confronted them with a large bladed weapon. With Rusch providing backup, DiSanto and Radder were able to calm the suspect and talk him into dropping the weapon. He was immediately arrested without injuries to anyone involved.

Dispatcher Kristen Herr

On Sept. 30, 2018, UPD Dispatcher Kristen Herr took a phone call from a distraught person who threatened suicide by driving the wrong way on Sheridan Drive.

Herr simultaneously dispatched officers while maintaining conversation with the distressed individual. Responding to the call, UPD Lt. Scott Bixby was able to reach the individual through direction from Herr. Bixby credited the successful resolution of the crisis to Herr’s empathy and professionalism.

“The change in demeanor exhibited by the caller from the start of his conversation with Kristen to the end can be directly attributed to Kristen’s calm manner and her ability to directly engage with someone in crisis,” Bixby says. “What she did was incredible.”

Investigator DJ Rehberg

UPD Investigator DJ Rehberg assisted the Erie County District Attorney’s Office (ECDA) and Amtrak Police in an investigation into fraudulent purchases of train and bus tickets between fall 2016 and spring 2018.

As a result of the investigation, a former UB student pleaded guilty to buying nearly $29,000 in train and bus tickets using other people’s credit cards and selling the tickets to friends, fellow students and family members.

As reported in The Buffalo News, the former student was sentenced to five years of probation and agreed to repay Amtrak and the bus company involved for value of the tickets. Prosecutors reported that none of the victims whose credit card information was compromised suffered any personal financial loss.