Colonel Patrick J. Callahan on Sunday announced that Detective Sergeant Michael Savnik, of the Fugitive Unit, Special Investigations Section, Investigations Branch, is the recipient of the 2023 Trooper of the Year Award for spearheading 16 NJ Strategic Apprehension Fugitive Enforcement (NJ SAFE) operations, which resulted in the arrest of 119 violent recidivist offenders and fugitives during a one-year period.
NJ SAFE operations aim to improve public safety by directly addressing the issue of gun violence in the State of New Jersey through targeted efforts to apprehend fugitives with violent criminal histories and involvement in the statewide shooting environment. Those apprehended individuals collectively had over 50 prior shooting involvements as either victims or suspects, along with 107 prior gun arrests, 723 prior arrests, and over 200 prior felony convictions. Detective Sergeant Savnik’s dedication and leadership has positively contributed to the success in the State’s effort to drive down overall gun violence statewide.
In 2023, Detective Sergeant Savnik efficiently managed NJ SAFE details while maintaining his regular caseload within the Fugitive Unit and the United States Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force. In addition to his pivotal role in NJ SAFE operations, he apprehended an additional 20 fugitives during the year. In total, these 20 fugitives had 75 prior arrests, 34 prior felony convictions, and 12 shooting involvements in the State of New Jersey.
On July 8, 2023, Detective Sergeant Savnik demonstrated extraordinary courage and expertise by apprehending a fugitive in Jersey City, NJ, wanted by the Orlando Police Department for the brutal slaying of his neighbor on July 7, 2023. Detective Sergeant Savnik took the lead in the investigation and established an investigative approach to locating the suspect. Detective Sergeant Savnik’s rapid response, effective coordination with law enforcement personnel, and decisive actions not only led to locating the suspect but also prevented further loss of life, averting imminent danger to the public.
Additionally, Detective Sergeant Savnik is an active member of the New Jersey State Police’s Crisis Negotiation Team – North Squad. Notably on Saturday, April 8, 2023, Detective Sergeant Savnik deployed with his Crisis Negotiation Team to assist the Paterson Police Department with an armed and suicidal male standing on Market Street in the City of Paterson. The subject was holding an 8-inch kitchen knife to his throat while threatening to harm himself. During this crisis, Detective Sergeant Savnik served in the role of an assistant team leader during this tense 10 hour long standoff. His efforts included assisting in negotiations with the subject as well as coordinating various law enforcement, medical, and civilian assets. As a result of Detective Sergeant Savnik’s efforts in coordinating his team’s response, the subject ultimately dropped his knife and surrendered to law enforcement in the early hours of Sunday, April 9, 2023.
Every year, the New Jersey State Police selects an enlisted member or members to be the recipient of the “Trooper of the Year Award.” Recipients are awarded a red ribbon encased by a gold frame, which is to always be worn on the Class “A” uniform. It is the highest honor a trooper can receive from within the Division. All recipients are honored for their outstanding performances, an honor which reflects great credit upon themselves and the New Jersey State Police.