The 40-plus police officers and firefighters honored last week at state Sen. Shirley Kitchen’s 14th annual appreciation banquet seemed genuinely pleased to be singled out for outstanding work.
“It’s very nice to be recognized,” said Julianne Bruhns, an officer in the 39th Police District. “We do appreciate it.”
The June 29 event took place at the Philadelphia Protestant Home, at 6500 Tabor Road in Lawndale.
The guests of honor were treated to a sit-down dinner and dessert and the musical talents of The Madison Project.
Kitchen (D-3rd dist.) was unable to attend, as she was in Harrisburg for final state budget negotiations.
The lawmaker honors police officers and firefighters in her district for their courage and their dedication and commitment to the community.
The awards were presented by attorney James J. Binns and mistress of ceremonies Thera Martin-Milling, who read a statement from Kitchen.
Binns, a lawyer for more than 45 years, also served as guest speaker. He founded the program that dedicates plaques to police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty. His Copwheels Inc. initiative raises money for motorcycles, bicycles and weapons for the police department. He also chairs Hero Thrill Show Inc., which raises money to pay for the college education of children whose parents are killed in the line of duty.
Earlier in the day, Binns dedicated a plaque at 16th and South streets in memory of a police detective shot to death way back in 1918. The ceremony attracted nine relatives of the officer slain almost a century ago.
Binns noted all of the recent shootings and murders in Philadelphia, and pointed to that incident 93 years ago. The murderer of Detective George Williams was executed two years after the crime.
“That’s what we need in 2011,” he said.
In all, Binns has dedicated 234 plaques in Philadelphia and the suburbs since the program began a decade ago. The total includes 98 for Philadelphia police officers and 93 for city firefighters.
One of the next big dates on his calendar will take place at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on July 27, when he’ll donate two motorcycles and two horse trailers for the Mounted Patrol Unit, which will be reinstated after being disbanded in 2004.
On Sept. 17, the 57th annual Hero Thrill Show will come to the Wells Fargo Center complex.
The show is benefiting the children of officers slain in recent years. Robert Skerski is at La Salle University. The three children of Chuck Cassidy all enrolled at Gwynedd-Mercy College. Amber Liczbinski is at Penn State. Jazmin Nazario and Terry and Samantha Simpson are about to start college.
John Redmond, a Mayfair firefighter who died in 1994 during a blaze at a South Philadelphia church, has children in college.
The scholarship fund was created in 1954, following the death of 10 firefighters in an explosion at a chemical plant at Fifth and Berks streets.
“These men and women put it on the line every day of their lives,” Binns said.
All of the honorees received state proclamations.
The police award recipients were Sgt. Christopher Binns and officers Michael Mocharnuk and Francis Whalen (SWAT); Charles Taylor and Brian Lorenzo (highway patrol); James Wagner and David Benvignati (2nd district); Joseph Negler and Donald Eccleston (5th district); Michael Murphy and Terrence Black (7th district); Sean Hart and Francis O’Brien (14th district); Christopher Dougherty and David Rausch (22nd district); Sgt. Wali Shabazz and Officer Tyshaan Williams (25th district); John Swift and Michael Hand (26th district); Roslyn Downing and Jermaine Davis (35th district); and Shane Getz and Julianne Bruhns (39th district).
In addition, Capt. Michael Cram, commander of the 26th Police District, received a special recognition award.
The fire department recipients were Sellus Motley and Sylvester Burton (Ladder 29); Christine Lardon and Ezequiel DaSilva (Engine 29); Seth Berman (Engine 51); Bernard Ford (Engine 63); Lt. Charlton Medley (Engine 45); Brian Deal (Engine 55); Capt. Theophilus Watkins (Ladder 30); Lt. Andrew Brown (Engine 2); Capt. Rodney Wright (Engine 59); Lt. Kevin Perry (Engine 37); Franchot Robinson and Edward Wrenn (Engine 19); Harry Downey (Ladder 30); Capt. Michael Jackson and fire service paramedic Charles Tuttle (Engine 71); paramedic Lawrence Belitsky (Medic 12/Engine 71); and William Stewart (battalion chief’s aide).
Also, the fire prevention division earned a special recognition award. ••