SUNY Announces Winners of the 2022 University Police Awards

November 16, 2022

Officers Honored for Acts of Heroism, Bravery, and Overall Professionalism

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022
Contact: Holly Liapis;; (518) 320-1311

Albany, NY – State University of New York today announced the recipients of the 2022 University Police Awards, the highest recognition by the SUNY Police Chiefs Association. The annual awards honor lieutenants, officers, and staff for their heroic efforts and bravery on campus as well as their professionalism.

“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of students and employees who meet on our campuses each day, we thank our officers and staff for their service in keeping us safe,” said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. “The winners announced today are role models among their peers and the entire SUNY community, and, in some cases, have put aside their own safety to protect us. They have our utmost respect and our congratulations for what they have achieved.”

University Police Commissioner Mary Ritayik said, “As police officers, we look forward to this event each year and cherish the opportunities it provides us to honor these outstanding awardees. It is a moment to reflect on what it means to be a University Police Officer and be inspired by the heroes within our police force. I have had the privileged of working with so many collaborative officers throughout my career, and now, as their commissioner, I am honored to celebrate them and their work.”

The Life Saving Awards are presented to any member of the New York State University Police who directly aids in saving someone’s life. This year’s awardees include:

  • Buffalo State: Officer Amanda L. Mesi
  • SUNY Delhi: Lieutenant Michael O’Donnell and Officer Troy Patterson
  • Maritime College: Officers William Ricci and Richard Paulino
  • SUNY New Paltz: Officer Joseph Haubrich
  • SUNY Oswego: Officer Eric Martin
  • Stony Brook University: Lieutenant David Bratisax and Officers Jasmin Agha, Bettina Bubb, Darrell Goens, Daniel Pilero, and Pasquale Primerano

The Heroism Awards recognize members for acts of exceptional bravery performed at very high risk to their own lives with full awareness of the danger involved. This year’s honor was awarded to:

  • Stony Brook University: Officer Frank Mendyk

The following University Police Officers received the Professional Service Award, which recognizes members for acts that greatly enhance the operation of their respective University Police Departments, including:

  • University at Albany: Lieutenant Michael Mabee and K9 Officer Steven Santa Maria
  • University at Buffalo: Investigator Guy Harvey
  • SUNY Cortland: Officer Melissa Keelhar and K9 Officer David Coakley
  • SUNY Delhi: Officer Troy Patterson and Technical Sergeant Jason Lonecke
  • Farmingdale State College: Officer Matthew Fitzharris
  • SUNY New Paltz: Officer Victor Torres
  • SUNY Old Westbury: Officer James Spellman
  • Purchase College: Officer Fred Vanzillotta
  • Stony Brook University: Senior Investigator Stephen Kiefer, Inspector Kathleen Galvin, and Officers Joseph Bica Jr., Curtis Hoover, Jared King, Scott Rodriguez, Peter Thomson, and Dawn Whitmarsh

As part of the award ceremony, three students received the following scholarships:

  • Platt/Malcolm Harris Scholarship is given to a SUNY student who has contributed to the safety of the campus: Behrad Garmsiri, SUNY College of Optometry
  • Dr. McBride Student Achievement Award is awarded to criminal justice students or students in a related field considering a career in law enforcement: Kayla McAuley Best, SUNY New Paltz; Dana Dileo, Purchase College


About The State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities,