By Ed Harris
The Southington Police Department celebrated the heroes within its ranks recently, with a special awards ceremony held at the high school. The ceremony recognizes Southin-gton’s police officers and the hard work and dedication to their job and the community.
The department originally had such a program-implemented by former Chief Phil D’Agostino in 1989, but it fell by the wayside when D’Agostino left shortly after instituting it. Chief John Daly reinstated the program a few years ago.
“It was a great night,” Southington Police Chief John Daly said. “A lot of well deserved awards went to the officers.”
The officers were awarded a small cloth ribbon. The awards are modeled after those worn by the military. An officer will wear his ribbon on the right side of their dress uniforms, right above the name tag.
There are 13 awards available to the officers. These include awards for a police Purple Heart, public safety, medal of valor, honor guard achievement, public appreciation, education achievement and excellent police work.
The awards are colored differently, in accordance with the honor that they represent. Many officers were awarded more than one award.
Along with the achievement and command level awards, police officials also awarded other special citations and commendations.
Several Southington officers, along with an officer from neighboring Bristol, were award commendations for bravery.
Master Sgt. Robert Wilson, Detective Adam Tillotson and Bristol Police Officer Dan Colvolpe received a bravery commendation for a Sept. 22, 2012 Central Region Emergency Response Team (ERT) operation. Tillotson and Colvolpe, under the direction of Wilson, formulated a plan that led to the safe arrest of a murder suspect that had barricaded himself in the attic with a knife, threatening suicide.
Officer Jeremy Busa received a citation due to his helping to capture a parole violator on Dec. 4, 2012. Busa was able to take the suspect into custody though he would not show his hands and claimed to possess a gun. Busa was able to taser the suspect while other officers maintained cover with their firearms.
Sgt. Benjamin Doerfler, Officer Melvin Emond and Officer Kevin Naranjo received a citation for their actions on March 23, 2012, where they were able to take a suspect into custody, though he had grabbed and later dropped numerous weapons including knives and a screwdriver. The suspect also feigned having a weapon in his waistband. The officers were able to arrest the suspect with minimal force.
Awards were also presented to civilians and non-sworn members of the community that have helped the police department.
Curtis Robinson received the SPD Community Service Award for his purchase of nine VieVue cameras (with nine more coming next year) that were donated to the police department.
Dan Slisz, Brian Tessman and Sean Orzech also received the SPD Community Service Award. The three men had performed CPR and used a AED device to help save the life of a victim that was unconscious, with no pulse, following a medical alert at Yarde Metals on Jan. 9.
Southington Police Commissioner Stephen Pestillo was awarded the SPD Order of the Police Cross for his development of a special needs registry that helps emergency personnel.