Upper Macungie police officer receives 'Beyond the Badge' award
Upper Macungie Township Police Lt. Pete Nickischer was honored Saturday with the Beyond the Badge Award for Outstanding Community Service.
The award was presented Nov. 8 by the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation during its fifth annual Beyond the Badge celebration at DeSales University, Center Valley.
Also recognized for her ongoing fight against cancer was Candace Nickischer, his wife, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease more than a year ago.
The Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was created to honor the memory of the Upper Saucon Township police officer killed by a van Nov. 9, 2006, as he tried to remove a deer carcass from Route 309.
"David's passing left a hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved him, and that loss seemed like it would be impossible to overcome," Kimberly Fritts, secretary and founding member of the foundation, stated in a press release. "The foundation gave us an avenue to continue Dave's work whether or not we wore a badge.
"We are working with community members, educators, public officials and law enforcement groups to encourage mentoring relationships between positive adult role models and children."
The celebration featured dinner, music from Bigg Romeo and presentation of the award.
"This evening of dinner, dancing and fellowship is the foundation's way of honoring a person or group of people whose energy and vision make our community better," Fritts stated. "The award is presented to those among us who go 'beyond the badge' and don't hesitate to lend a hand without any expectation of reward or recognition."
The foundation partnered with the county and DeSales University in planning, developing and opening the Officer David M. Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory of Lehigh County on the university campus in March 2011.
The foundation has contributed more than $120,000 to the lab.
"Dave would have been honored and humbled to have his name on the wall of this unique state-of-the art digital forensics laboratory," Fritts said.
Staffed by police officers from various municipal police departments in Lehigh County, the lab is a first of its kind at a county level in Pennsylvania.
The laboratory helps local and county law enforcement agencies to more efficiently and effectively collect electronic evidence by analyzing cell phones and computers in investigations of violent and nonviolent crimes.
Recordings of audio-visual equipment, such as video from surveillance cameras mounted in establishments and on streets can be enhanced.
"The laboratory also is instrumental in investigations involving distributors and possessors of child pornography and other suspects having inappropriate and criminal online conversations with children," said Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin.
Officers at the lab assist the district attorney's office in prosecutions by giving expert testimony about the results of analyses of electronic and digital equipment.
Proceeds from the celebration will benefit foundation programs and ongoing needs of the lab.
"The foundation and its members work tirelessly throughout the year and rely solely on the support of communities, residents and businesses of the Lehigh Valley," Fritts wrote. "We need the help of the community to make this event a success and know that the community recognizes the outstanding work that local law enforcement does to protect those that are the most vulnerable the children."
"By educating youths, teachers, parents and caregivers about dangers of the Internet, social networking, sexting and online bullying, we are helping to prevent tragedy.
"The officers at the lab who use technological advancements in investigations provide us all with a safer place to live, work and raise our families."
In addition to the Nickishers being honored, Martin was presented a check for $15,000 to support the Lehigh County Forensics Laboratory at DeSales.
For more information on the foundation, visit OfficerDavid.org and the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation on Facebook.