Weekly Feature



2012-01-25 / Local News

Lawida named Bee’s Officer of the Year at ceremony


Senior Investigator Scott Lawida, center, receives the Amherst Bee Officer of the Year award from Managing Editor David Sherman. Also pictured are, from left, Detective Edward Guzdek, Amherst Police Club president; Officer Corey Brown, Bee runner-up; John Askey, chief of police; and Officer Brian Kern, Bee runner-up. 
Photos by Scott SchildPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Senior Investigator Scott Lawida, center, receives the Amherst Bee Officer of the Year award from Managing Editor David Sherman. Also pictured are, from left, Detective Edward Guzdek, Amherst Police Club president; Officer Corey Brown, Bee runner-up; John Askey, chief of police; and Officer Brian Kern, Bee runner-up. Photos by Scott SchildPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The Amherst Bee Officer of the Year award was presented Saturday evening to Senior Investigator Scott Lawida for his work in locating a critical piece of evidence in a fatal pedestrian accident.

The award has been presented annually by The Bee since 1957.

In October, police agencies throughout Erie County were asked to assist the Buffalo Police Department as they attempted to locate the vehicle that struck and killed a 48-year-old woman on Broadway.

Members of the Amherst Police Department Accident Investigation Unit were asked to check out a list of more than 100 possible suspect vehicles within the town and completed the task within in a matter of days. Lawida investigated further by contacting parts shops and auto dealers throughout Erie and Niagara counties.


Other major awards were presented Saturday at the annual Amherst Police Club banquet. Joining John Askey, left, chief of police, are Officer David Wick, Muck Award runner-up; Officer Brian Kern, Muck Award co-winner; Officer Corey Brown, Muck Award co-winner; Detective John Trabert, Wright Award winner; Lt. James McNamara, Kieffer Award winner; and Detective Ed Guzdek, Police Club president. Other major awards were presented Saturday at the annual Amherst Police Club banquet. Joining John Askey, left, chief of police, are Officer David Wick, Muck Award runner-up; Officer Brian Kern, Muck Award co-winner; Officer Corey Brown, Muck Award co-winner; Detective John Trabert, Wright Award winner; Lt. James McNamara, Kieffer Award winner; and Detective Ed Guzdek, Police Club president. Although he got no leads through his initial inquiries, he contacted all the parts shops and car dealers a second time. His diligence paid off when he learned that a collision shop in Wheatfield had repaired a vehicle similar to the suspect vehicle.

Lawida contacted the shop and was told that the scrap parts had already been disposed of. Unrelenting, he went and checked the Dumpster at the shop and was able to locate a hood which had damage on it, damage that was consistent with a pedestrian strike. Buffalo police were contacted and took over the investigation. The suspect was located, and the crime was solved.

Amherst Bee Officer of the Year Runners-up

On Feb. 9, 2011, information was relayed in a briefing regarding a person and vehicle wanted in connection with a Buffalo bank robbery. Officers Brian Kern and Corey Brown checked on an address that was believed to be associated with the wanted person.

The suspect was not there so they made a plan to check the surrounding streets and motels. A short time later, the suspect was spotted by Brown at an area motel. The suspect ducked into the motel lobby and Brown waited for Kern to arrive. Together, they were able to apprehend the suspect without incident and recovered cocaine in his possession. The suspect was turned over to Buffalo police, at which time he made a full confession to his crimes in their jurisdiction.

William F. Muck II Award

Officers Brian Kern and Corey Brown shared the William F. Muck II Officer of the Year Award for their actions in the Buffalo bank robbery investigation detailed above.

Muck Runner-Up

Officers Michael Daley and David Wik were the first patrolmen to arrive at the scene of a possible suicide on Oct. 21. The subject was a despondent 18-year-old with a history of previous suicide attempts. As a direct result of their quick actions, the subject did not sustain any injuries as a result of the attempt. The subject was subsequently transported to the hospital for evaluation.

Donald C. Kieffer Leadership Award

Lt. James McNamara has spent his career as a patrolman, lieutenant and team leader improving the skills and capabilities of the Amherst Police Department.

During the past decade, McNamara has served as the commander of the Emergency Response Team, training lieutenant and most recently, detective lieutenant. During that time, McNamara has served as president and treasurer of the Erie County Tactical Task Force. He has brought numerous tactical schools and training opportunities to multiple tactical teams in the area. He also spearheaded securing grants to purchase equipment for teams in the area.

While serving as the department’s training lieutenant, McNamara devoted much of his attention to enhancing the skills of department officers. He has spent much of his time teaching rapid deployment skills not only to the department members through in-service training, but also to recruit officers in the Erie County Police Academy. He has also worked with local school districts, assisting them with their school safety plans and recommended procedures to keep their buildings and students safe.

Capt. Donald G. Wright Sr. Memorial Award

Detective John Trabert began his career with the Amherst Police Department in 1991 after a short span as a patrolman with the Buffalo Police Department. Trabert believed working in the neighborhoods where he was raised would better serve the Amherst Police Department and would prove to be more rewarding and satisfying for himself and the town.

Trabert’s work ethic is described as “second to none.” As a patrolman, there were many times that he was the lone voice on the radio either trying to track down a suspect, make a traffic arrest or simply responding to a call.

Early in his career, Trabert noticed a suspicious male attempting to break into vehicles in the parking lot of a shopping plaza. He attempted to take the suspect into custody, at which point a violent struggle ensued. The suspect attempted to take the officer’s duty weapon, and he was forced to take drastic action, wounding the suspect in the leg.

Trabert received a department Merit Award in February 1996 and was twice awarded the William F. Muck Officer of the Year Award. Trabert received The Amherst Bee Officer of the Year Award in 1994 for his response to an armed robbery on Niagara Falls Boulevard. Gunfire was exchanged, and the suspect was apprehended a short time later.

Trabert furthered his skills as a member of the department’s Emergency Response Team. He was promoted to detective in 2004 and assigned to the Narcotics Unit in 2008.

Although appointed to the position of detective sergeant in 2010, he knew the role of an administrator was not for him. Remaining in the Narcotics Bureau provided Trabert the opportunity to join the Drug Enforcement Agency as member of its task force, and that is where he currently logs his time.

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