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Nassau lawmakers honor cop, 2 detectives for arrests

From left, Nassau County Det. Jason Gaertner, Police

From left, Nassau County Det. Jason Gaertner, Police Officer Richard Papa, and Det. Lyndon John are honored by the Nassau County Legislature on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Nassau County police officer and two detectives were recognized Monday by the county legislature for making arrests in unrelated cases — a domestic violence suspect who tried to grab another cop’s gun and a trio of suspected armed bank robbers.

Officer Richard Papa of the Second Precinct was named “Top Cop” for the month of November for his actions in the Feb. 14 assault on Berry Hill Road in Syosset, in which he used his Taser gun to subdue a suspect who was yanking on another cop’s service weapon during a scuffle, officials said.

And in a first that will become a regular monthly award highlighting the work of the department’s detectives, lawmakers also recognized veteran Detectives Jason Gaertner and Lyndon John of the Robbery Squad, for arresting three suspects in a trio of bank robberies that began on July 14.

Acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder credited the department’s emphasis on training for Papa’s quick-thinking and the strong investigative skills of John and Gaertner — and thanked the legislature for its financial support of the police department.

“These two detectives were both cops of mine when I was a young sergeant; They hold that same energy today and love for this job as when they were cops,” said Ryder at the ceremony. “It starts with cops like Officer Papa doing that arrest and those detectives that are behind the scenes that do that investigation. They do it with the technology and support this board constantly gives us.”

Papa was interviewing the assault victim when the suspect returned to the scene and began to struggle with another officer.The suspect tried to grab that officer’s gun, said James McDermott, president of the Police Benevolent Association, who also attended.

Papa, a five-year veteran of the NYPD who became a Nassau cop in June 2016, “tried to restrain this perpetrator” but then used his Taser, which quickly neutralized the suspect, McDermott said.

“This could have went bad real quick,” said McDermott. “We could have had police officers and civilians shot and killed.”

Papa, whose grandfather and two uncles were police officers and currently has two cousins and a sister working as police officers, said “it was just natural to get the subject with the least amount of force possible into custody.”

Papa said it was nice to receive an award.

“Nassau County treats its cops well,” said Papa.

Det. John Wighaus, president of the Detectives Association, said Gaertner and John’s “relentless investigative skills” led to the arrests.

The detectives both thanked officials for the awards, but declined to comment further, because the case is an active investigation.

“We want our detectives to get the recognition they deserve also,” Wignaus said of the new monthly detectives award. “It’s good to hear positive stories about the work that they do.”

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