The Massachusetts State Police on October 30, 2008 honored 17 state and local police officers and one civilian for various contributions to public safety, acts of bravery, and police work beyond the normal call of duty. The awards ceremony, held at the Grand Staircase of the State House, was led by Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary of Public Safety and Security Kevin Burke, and Colonel Mark Delaney, superintendent of the State Police.
"Police officers throughout the Commonwealth perform their duties every day, from routine calls for service, to dynamic events that challenge their very lives," Colonel Delaney said. "Today, we recognize those officers who during the past year have performed above and beyond the call of duty. Whether performing heroically in the face of imminent danger; admirably, in response to citizens in crisis; or meritoriously, during outstanding individual achievement, these officers are deserving of special recognition, and today we honor them at this State Police Awards ceremony.
Medal of Valor
The Medal of Valor was awarded to officers involved in two incidents. The Medal of Valor is bestowed upon sworn personnel who have performed specific acts of bravery or have exhibited outstanding courage while performing their duties.
State Police Lt. Michael J. Domnarski, commander of the STOP Team, and Sgt. James S. Nanof, a State Police crisis negotiator, were recognized for their work to apprehend an armed suspect who had murdered his estranged girlfriend and wounded her co-worker in Webster on Jan. 28, 2008. The man fled into a field in the town of Berlin, but refused to surrender when surrounded. Amid falling temperatures and fading daylight, Sgt. Nanof skillfully engaged the suspect in dialogue and persuaded him to move into a position where he could be shot with less-lethal rounds. Lt. Domnarski hit the suspect with several beanbag rounds, causing the man to fall to the ground and throw his weapon down in surrender.
Eight members of the Boston Youth Violence Strike Force were honored with the Medal of Valor for subduing and apprehending a gunman inside Aria nightclub in Boston on the night of Feb. 23, 2008. The man opened fire into the crowd, seriously injuring two club patrons, and was continuing to fire randomly. The officers, who were in the club that night to monitor gang activity, immediately sprang into action and tackled the gunman. A life-and-death struggle ensued, but the shooter was subdued by State Trooper Shawn P. Riley and Boston Police Officers Dean C. Bickerton, James C. Clark, John D. Conway, Daran D. Edwards, Lynwood Jenkins, Joel J. Resil, and Anthony Williams. Trooper Riley broke his left wrist while struggling with the shooter.
Medal of Merit
Three Troopers received the Medal of Merit, which is bestowed upon sworn personnel who have performed acts of outstanding achievement far exceeding the normal demands of the department, which greatly contribute to the operation of the department.
Trooper James D. O'Leary was recognized for locating and capturing four suspects in a Feb. 10, 2008 shooting in Brockton that wounded two young men. Trooper O'Leary stopped the fleeing car carrying the four suspects, held them at gunpoint until assistance arrived on scene, and then chased down one of the suspects on foot, over fences and through backyards, after the suspect tried, to no avail, to flee.
Trooper Mark F. Blanchard was recognized for finding and apprehending a suspect in an armed bank robbery. On March 1, 2008, Trooper Blanchard observed a man leaving a club in Revere and noted that he matched the description of the suspect who robbed a Quincy bank earlier that day. The Trooper stopped the man and ultimately recovered from his person a large quantity of US currency believed to have been taken from the bank.
Trooper Michael A. Isom was recognized for finding the suspect in a Feb. 21, 2008 Bridgewater bank robbery as the man was driving in a parking lot, hoping to hide out until police presence in the area was reduced. Trooper Isom found the suspect in the last of several parking lots he checked, and ordered the man out of his car at gunpoint. A black toy gun, mask and money were found in the car.
Medal of Lifesaving
Four Troopers involved in two separate incidents were awarded the Medal of Lifesaving, bestowed upon sworn police personnel who undertake significant actions in the saving of another life.
Troopers Stephen J. Burgess, Sean C. Barry and Stephen J. Gregorczyk were recognized for saving the life of a 33-year-old man who had been hit by a car. The Troopers were working in Springfield on Oct. 25, 2007 when they responded to the scene of the pedestrian accident. The victim had massive head injuries and was having difficulty breathing. Troopers Burgess, Barry and Gregorcyzk worked as a team to begin rescue breathing and were able to stabilize the 33-year-old man, who survived and is currently undergoing rehabilitation.
Trooper Gene A. Baker was recognized for saving the life of a man who was choking on food at a Westfield restaurant on March 27, 2008. Trooper Baker was having lunch at the restaurant when the man's wife shouted for help from a nearby table. Trooper Baker immediately began administering the Heimlich maneuver and, after several thrusts, was able to dislodge the obstruction. The man, who had become weak as his breathing was blocked, started to breathe again. When medical personnel arrived, they evaluated the man and determined that no further medical attention was needed.
Public Service Award
The Public Service Award, which recognizes a civilian who has provided outstanding assistance to the department or contributed to public safety, was presented to Mr. Harry Johnson of Quincy, a master carpenter and retired owner of a remodeling company.
Mr. Johnson, the father of Trooper Karl E. Johnson, built custom frames for the guidons displayed at the State Police Academy and crafted new booking, processing and storage areas for several other Department facilities. Mr. Johnson has shared his talents, expertise and hard work without financial consideration, but rather, out of a sense of dedication to the Massachusetts State Police.