Cortland police officers honored for response during hotel standoff

Detective Sgt. Dan Johnson and Patrolman Chadd Hines received the Law Enforcement Commendation from the Central New York Association of Chiefs of Police (Photo provided)

Two city police officers were honored Monday night with commendations during a ceremony in Dewitt for their roles in diffusing a nearly 24-hour standoff last May in a Cortland hotel.

Detective Sgt. Dan Johnson and Patrolman Chadd Hines received the Law Enforcement Commendation from the Central New York Association of Chiefs of Police at the association’s banquet.

Johnson was the main negotiator with the gunman who was holding his own girlfriend hostage at the Hampton Inn on River Street after leading police on a chase from Johnson City, Broome County, wrote Chief F. Michael Catalano to the association. Hines successfully coordinated several agencies during the standoff as the city’s tactical team coordinator, including negotiators from the F.B.I. and state Parole, as well as officers from the Broome County Sheriff’s Office, Ithaca Police Department, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, Syracuse Police Department and New York State Police, Catalano wrote.

During the standoff, Johnson was able to convince the gunman to safely release the hostage, while Hines led officers at a command post, kept communications between agencies clear and oversaw the use of several tactical devices to breach the gunman’s hotel room, according to the letter.

“The dedication and professionalism of Officer Hines and Sergeant Johnson not only secured the safe release of the hostage,” Catalano wrote, “but also secured the safety of all employees and guests of a full-capacity hotel on a college graduation weekend.”

Johnson and Hines are excellent officers, said city police Lt. Michael Strangeway this morning.

“They are an asset to the department and the citizens of the community are fortunate to have officers of their caliber working here,” Strangeway said.

All the police officers responding to the standoff did their jobs and did it well, said Hines.

“It was successful in the sense that we got the hostage out,” Hines said. “Dan got the hostage out and we were able to make that happen.”

Hines said he loves being a cop and facing challenges like the one the tense standoff posed.

“I’m just grateful that I have a great group of men and women that work here and make my job easier,” he said.

After 21 years, Johnson said he still enjoys his job, too.

“I enjoy helping people and I enjoy making a difference,” Johnson said. “Because I truly believe I do in my work and my assignment right now.”

It was an honor to receive the award from the association, Johnson said.

Johnson and Hines were two of the dozens of police officers that responded to the May standoff that ended when the gunman, Corey J. Hobart, 28, of Conklin, Broome County, shot himself, committing suicide, according to city police. Hobart was wanted on a parole violation and fled officers after he was spotted in a Walmart parking lot in Johnson City, police said. His girlfriend, 27-year-old Jeri Ann Healy, of Johnson City, was with him and became his hostage.

Officers found drugs and several guns in the hotel room after it was breached, Catalano wrote.