About the Awards
The Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services (CSEMS) Awards serves as opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of the CSEMS team from throughout the past year. An awards committee comprised of CSEMS employees, with representation from all units, begins planning the awards during the summer months. The 2023 CSEMS Awards was held on Thursday, October 26, 2023. To learn more about the 2023 honorees, please see the recap below.
2023 Awards Recap
Winner: Donna Adams
The Chief’s Award for Distinguished Performance is given to an individual who demonstrates exceptional reliability, embraces the educational mission of the University, exhibits a positive attitude, goes beyond their normal call of duty, shows leadership, is highly productive and proficient in their tasks, builds relationships with the campus community and consistently demonstrates a commitment to our organizational values of safety, security and customer service. The deliberations for the Chief’s Award for Distinguished Performance were quick and unanimous, due to the fact that there is no one more deserving of this honor than our very own, Donna Adams.
Donna received this award due to her exceptional performance and contributions to CSEMS throughout the past year. Donna is a dependable and helpful member of the team, always ready to provide assistance and share her institutional knowledge to those who need it. When CSEMS was moved under Student Experience, she adapted to the new rules and ensured compliance with them. Additionally, she is involved in budget planning and personnel forecast to achieve the best possible results. On top of all of that, Donna fills in as a backup for payroll activities to ensure all the personnel in her division are paid properly and on time. Lastly, her positive attitude and willingness to help others have earned her the respect of her colleagues and made her an asset to the team. Every member of our team has a reason to thank Donna for making their lives easier.
Winners: Marcella Becker, Michael Gabriell, Matthew Rougeau and Emily Swartwout
The Chief's Award for Heroism recognizes officers who have demonstrated exceptional personal bravery and gallantry, risking their life and personal injury to perform an act of heroism that garners credit for themselves, the department, and the University.
Inherently in this line of work, there are bound to be many deserving nominations, however the group of Officers Marcella Becker, Michael Gabriell, Matthew Rougeau and Emily Swartwout are more than deserving for their heroic actions the night of the shooting near Orange Crate.
For those who don’t know, on May 15th 2022, there was a shooting at the Orange Crate bar around 1:20 a.m. Multiple officers were dispatched to an incident where a person was shot. Our four Syracuse University Department of Public Safety officers arrived within seconds and quickly gathered information from witnesses that the suspect was seen entering a vehicle. They formed a perimeter around the vehicle in question and gave verbal commands to the occupants to exit the vehicle, and both the suspect and passenger were taken into custody without incident. The officers assisted the Syracuse Police Department with setting a perimeter, identifying the scene of the incident, directing emergency medical personnel to aid the victim, and locating witnesses. The victim was immediately transported to the hospital and the suspect was apprehended. The quick actions of our DPS officers and their ability to remain calm under extreme pressure, work together seamlessly and follow sound tactics and training led to a speedy apprehension of an armed suspect and a successful resolution to what could have been a far greater tragedy.
Winners: Misty Barden, Brandon Benson, Karen Busse, Robert Smith, Matthew Speach, Andrew Stockton and Brian Tarolli
Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services is a bigger operation than most would realize. Not only does it house the Department of Public Safety and its officers, but it is also home to the Community Safety and Residential Safety programs, Emergency Management, Fire and Life Safety Services and the Video Access Security Technology Team, also known as VASTT.
The awards committee felt as though each unit of the Campus Safety team deserved to be recognized with a Meritorious Performance Award. This award is given to Campus Safety employees who have performed an exceptional act or series of acts that go beyond their normal call of duty.
- For Community Service Officers, Misty Barden was honored for her hard work on establishing DPS game nights, and for always going above and beyond to connect with campus community members.
- For Residential Community Safety, Karen Busse was honored for her unwavering commitment and efforts that kept the program going. Her hard work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the countless number of students she has trained and hired has been inspiring to those around her.
- For Emergency Management, Andrew Stockton of the Emergency Communications Center was honored for his leadership as a coordinator and for his hard work towards establishing a new training protocol for all dispatchers.
- For VASTT, Brandon Benson was honored for his exceptional work as a field technician, but also his drive to take on programming and testing new technologies that are helping the entire Campus Safety operation.
- For Fire and Life Safety Services, Matt Speach and Brian Tarolli were honored for their efforts on implementing a new software which has completely transformed and streamlined how Fire Safety staff do their work.
- For Public Safety Officers, Officer Robert Smith was honored for his heroic efforts in performing lifesaving efforts in multiple instances to aid members of our community until medical units could respond.
Winner: George Wazen
The Grant Williams Excellence in Service Award is given to a Campus Safety employee who has worked hard to establish, promote, and encourage community policing, community service, risk prevention, and/or crime prevention efforts on campus and in the neighboring community. The recipient of the award has also built sustained relationships with community members through their efforts.
Officer and Library Coordinator George Wazen has been a great ambassador for the Department of Public Safety and Syracuse University. He has successful run events such as the Community Police Academy, “Destress with DPS” and served as a mentor for hundreds of student workers at Bird Library. Due to his positive attitude and "student first" philosophy, he was chosen as the recipient of the Grant Williams Excellence in Service Award.
Winner: Michael Toia
The Excellence in Law Enforcement Award recognizes an individual who actively promotes and encourages law enforcement efforts on campus and in the community, while maintaining peace, protecting life and property, reducing crime, and enforcing laws.
They are fully committed to the DPS law enforcement philosophy, exhibit positive behaviors in law enforcement, and serve as role models for others. They also encourage others to adopt that same philosophy. No one has championed these efforts more through their work than Detective Michael Toia.
He is the lead investigator for high-profile cases and works with dedication to solve them. He proactively assists other members of the department to resolve complaints and provides excellent customer service to victims and complainants. Detective Toia routinely stays after hours to complete assignments and has a great knowledge of his assigned duties, law, and campus community. He is also responsible for driving the Chancellor and other dignitaries and fills in for patrol when needed. His track record reflects the efforts he puts forth to make the University a safer and better place.
Winner: John Stephens
The Excellence in Safety and Security Award represents an individual's efforts in promoting safety and security on campus and in the community. They are encouraging others to implement the core meaning of safety and security into their everyday actions.
Sergeant John Stephens has embodied that mission over the past year. He is always going out of his way to speak with members of the community to advise them of how to remain safe in and around campus. He uses his knowledge from his 20 plus years in law enforcement to educate people and assist them with problem solving. Not only that, but he carried these principles of safety and security into his planning of the first ever Youth Leadership Camp which brought rising ninth graders to campus this summer for a week. His dedication and unwavering commitment to the mission of DPS made him the selection for this honor.
Winner: Paul Smyth of Syracuse University Ambulance
The Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services Community Member Recognition Award is presented to a non-Campus Safety individual or department that has provided support to the division’s mission. It is specifically given to those who have helped in strengthening the partnerships between Campus Safety and the campus community.
Paul Smyth, Manager of Emergency Medical Services and Syracuse University Ambulance has been an unbelievable partner to the Campus Safety team over the years. He has made himself available to DPS on his off time and communicates extremely efficiently. Paul is directly involved with the majority of medical calls DPS deals with. He and the SUA team also teach CPR classes, and his teaching is beyond patient and goes the extra mile. The CPR training is a key part of the Community Police Academy, and is always met with a great reception. The Campus Safety team is grateful for the support always received from Paul and all of SUA.
Winners: Nadia Diaz, Joseph Dishaw and Joseph O’Connor
The Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services Spirit of Justice Award is given to a Campus Safety employee who has made exceptional contributions to the community service, community engagement, and inclusion mission. The award recognizes the efforts that go above and beyond and aren’t found in a job description. Specifically acts that benefit the community and show that our team is here to help and make positive change. The awards committee believed two nominations to be equally deserving of recognition.
Officer Nadia Diaz and Quartermaster Joseph Dishaw were recognized for their work with the Syracuse Police Athletic League, also known as PAL. Both Nadia and Joe were part of the initial meetings where PAL sought help from DPS to support their mission in conjunction with other local Law Enforcement agencies. Nadia and Joe volunteered to coach a youth basketball team and spent upwards of 50 hours off duty to make that coaching assignment a success. It's exactly these types of selfless and community minded efforts that bring credit to Campus Safety.
Community Service Officer Joseph O’Connor was recognized for his consistent track record of going above and beyond what is expected. There are countless examples of him covering shifts when staffing was short or mentoring and providing guidance to new CSO’s. He even spent his own money to hand out dolls to young children as they were leaving Syracuse Stage. He does all of this with a smile on his face and a positive outlook. His actions represent everything this award is about.