Third Precinct Officer Joseph Altieri was on patrol with a rookie trainee, Officer Michael Taskov, and heard a call over the police radio for an armed robbery of a Manhasset Dunkin' Donuts.
Altieri, a 16-year veteran, didn't rush to the scene on the morning of May 3. Instead, he got the suspect's description from the first officer at the doughnut shop -- Third Precinct Officer Edward Vilchez.
"I said, 'Let's start going to this one specific hotel . . . " Altieri recalled Monday. "If we try to race to the scene, there's gonna be other cops already there, so it's better for us to hang back and start canvassing the area and possibly, maybe we'll get lucky too and find the guy that did the robbery."
And they did.
For what Nassau Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki called "outstanding" work, the officers Monday were named "Top Cops" by the Police Benevolent Association and awarded citations by the Nassau County Legislature.
Skrynecki said intelligence-led policing is key to fighting crime, but so are experienced officers.
"This is outstanding everyday police work," Skrynecki said. "I'm very happy when I see the average cop in the street honored here and to see the performances that they do day in and day out." "They risk their lives truly everyday for all of us and this is just another great example."
Turning to the officers Monday, Skrynecki said: "So fellas, excellent work, thank you very much."
With a description of the suspect from Vilchez -- who got to the Dunkin' Donuts store at 7:40 a.m. -- Altieri and Taskov headed to a Northern Boulevard motel.
Suspected robber Christian Wallace, 30, of Long Beach -- who police said appeared to have a gun under his shirt and handed a note demanding money to the doughnut store clerk -- was arrested in the motel parking lot after a brief foot pursuit, police said. Wallace, was charged with first-degree robbery. He didn't have a gun, but was carrying about $400 to $500, police said.
Wallace's court-appointed attorney could not be reached for comment Monday.
The general manager of the hotel, now a Travelodge, said the suspect wasn't a guest at his establishment and and was "just trying to hide here."
"I'm glad they caught him here, but we had nothing to do with it," said manager Harry Mistry.