Police honored for extra care in toughest cases
No police officer looks forward to working on child abuse cases, an advocate noted on Monday.
Baldwin police Detective Tony Cortazzo has investigated more than 120 of them in his 17 years with the force.
"They're all challenging in different ways," Cortazzo, 39, said after he and three other people received awards for their work with children. "Whenever you have a victim where the suspect is in the family, those are harder for me to handle."
He recalled a particularly emotional case involving parents who beat their 10-week-old baby and claimed the child had brittle bones. He sought opinions with several doctors before filing charges, which ultimately resulted in the father's guilty plea to aggravated assault.
"We've seen Tony go that extra distance with cases that are very difficult," said Joan Mills, manager of A Child's Place at Mercy, which presented the second annual Above & Beyond Awards Luncheon at LeMont restaurant on Mt. Washington.
"After 20-plus years of doing this work, you start to understand that in the law enforcement world, these are the cases most police detectives don't want," Mills said. "They elicit so much emotion."
Cortazzo received a $1,000 cash award, a plaque and tickets to a Pittsburgh Penguins game for his work.
"These awards are difficult because anytime a law enforcement officer gets an award, it usually means something bad has happened to someone else," Cortazzo said.
A panel of judges gave an award to Allegheny County Police Detective Steve Dish in part for his quick thinking in a courtroom. Dish happened to be in Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel's courtroom in October when a suspect set to plead guilty to rape dove at the victim's mother as deputies led him out of the courtroom. Dish jumped in to deflect the man.
"It was just my reaction," said Dish, 50, of Moon. "I didn't want him to get to her."
Dish has been a county police detective for six years; he spent 13 years with Moon police. He handles general investigations, including sex assault cases, and is one of the most aggressive detectives on the force, county police Assistant Superintendent James Morton said.
"I'm not surprised he took the initiative to stop that guy," Morton said.
A Child's Place at Mercy, which conducts specialized interviews of children when authorities suspect abuse or neglect, began awarding police officers and child protective service professionals at a luncheon last year. Jennifer Wright of Beaver County Children and Youth Services, and Tiffani Keirn of the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families, received awards in the child protective services category.
"These are really hard cases for police to do, but I also I think it is the most admirable form of police work," Mills said. "We thought it's time to recognize people in this field."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- WPIAL coaches, QBs have concerns about using newly-approved footballs
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- Monroeville firefighters hope hot photo calendar will help raise money
- Why Steelers will — or won’t — snap out of their funk
- Reputed leader of motorcycle gang returned to Pa. to face charges
- Arizona Uzi shooting that accidentally killed instructor ‘just stupid’
- Psychologist to evaluate Greensburg woman involved in Daugherty killing
- Pitt coordinator House rebuilds defense with depth