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Homestead police chief, officers honored

| Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Homestead police Chief Jeff DeSimone and officers Randy Ernst, Ron DePellegrin, Matt Fusco, Cpl. Jeffrey Luptak, James Ilgenfritz and Max participated in an awards ceremony at a council meeting on Thursday.

Homestead police recognized some of their own at a council meeting this week with commendations and awards for service.

“These guys go above and beyond,” is how Homestead police Chief Jeff DeSimone described officers who received the awards that recognized years of service, feats of bravery and lifesaving, and general outstanding service.

DeSimone, who received a life-saving award for rescuing a borough employee who was choking, said the department used to regularly recognize service but had gotten away from the practice several years ago because of short staffing, hectic schedules and other reasons.

Noting some of the actions recognized date back to 2009, the chief said the awards were overdue.

Officers Matt Fusco and James Wintruba were commended for a drug bust at the Waterfront they initiated that led to a weapons conviction after the officers discovered a homemade explosive device in the suspect's car.

Fusco also was recognized for brave actions he took to prevent a woman from jumping off the Homestead Grays Bridge. Fusco raced forward to grab the woman as she was beginning to climb over the railing. DeSimone said the momentum of the woman could have pulled the officer over the bridge with her but fortunately didn't.

Officer Ron DePellegrin received commendation for an arrest that led to the conviction of an ecstasy dealer and for his investigation of an abduction at the Waterfront.

Several officers were recognized for their years of service with the department: Cpl. Jeffrey Luptak, seven years; and officers Ian Strang, eight years; Fusco, six years; DePellegrin, Wintruba, James Ilgenfritz and Scott Miller, five years; and Randy Ernst, three years.

Officers received congratulations from officials and citizens at the meeting.

“I think we have a great force,” Mayor Betty Esper said.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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