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‘Top Cops’ honored for quick thinking, using ‘incredible restraint’

Nassau Police officers Christopher According and Charles Samolinski,

Nassau Police officers Christopher According and Charles Samolinski, who broke up an altercation on a public street when they spotted one of the suspects with a gun, are honored by the Nassau Legislature on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A pair of Nassau County police officers — including a trainee working one of his first shifts on the street — took a loaded 9 mm handgun away from a man in Hempstead earlier this year, earning accolades for their actions Monday.

Third Precinct Officers Charles Samolinski and Christopher Accordino, who graduated from the police academy in June, were named “Top Cops” Monday and received citations from the Nassau County Legislature and praise from police brass and union officials.

“There could have been a horrific end to that story had it not been for the incredible restraint of these officers, their good judgment on how they could manage this situation,” said Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki, commending the officers for acting without anyone getting injured.

Samolinski, a 12-year veteran, had met Accordino, who at the time was still in the academy and doing field training, only seven hours earlier, when, on April 11 at 3:37 a.m., they spotted two men fighting on a sidewalk in front of 618 Fulton Ave., police said.

The officers approached the men and told them to stop fighting but were ignored, police said. The officers then spotted a handgun sticking out of the pouch of one of the men’s hoodies, police said.

Both officers drew their service weapons, and the men complied and were arrested, police said.

Derek Belizaire, 34, of Manatuck Boulevard, Bay Shore, was charged with second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and disorderly conduct.

Police recovered a black 9 mm Ruger pistol and a magazine containing eight rounds from his pocket, police said.

Dominic Cowan, 36, of Fredricks Avenue, Roosevelt, was charged with third-degree robbery, third-degree assault, aggravated family offense, fourth-degree criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, stemming from an earlier domestic incident.

Pete Paterson, first vice president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Assocation, credited the department’s strong training for the officers’ swift and successful actions.

“We pride ourselves on our officers coming out on the street after six months of extensive training particularly in scenarios such as this, so when you face something like this out on the street, your instincts and reflex just go naturally, even though your heart’s racing,” Paterson said. “It’s a dangerous situation, it’s a loaded gun. You don’t know what this guy’s going to do or not do. The training is definitely the most critical thing you have.”

The officers weren’t interested in bragging about their work.

When the legislature’s Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) prodded the officers to speak before the packed room of onlookers — “Would either of the officers like to say something? Come on, both of you can say something? Come on . . . ” — they were tight-lipped.

“Thank you,” said Accordino.

In a brief interview afterward, Samolinski said the incident was “definitely in the top 10” of heart-racing moments he’s had as a cop, and called the work of Accordino “excellent.”

Skrynecki, as he bid the officers goodbye, said: “Congratulations boys, keep up the good work and stay safe.”

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