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SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Police Department is pleased to recognize 50 officers for exceptional skill and professionalism. 

The officers were recognized in front of peers, family members and special guests at a ceremony held at Symphony Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Because an annual commendation ceremony was not held during the pandemic, commendations include incidents from 2019 up to now, as well as actions that are due to be commended from prior years. 

“The 50 officers commended this week may have different levels of experience, work different shifts in different parts of the city or as part of different units, but they all come to work each day with the goal of improving the wellbeing of their community in whatever way they can,” Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said. “These officers are recognized for a wide array of situations, all of which were unpredictable, rapidly evolving and required immense courage, selflessness and professionalism. Each of the officers recognized this week display a commitment to the safety of our city and we are pleased to honor their service.”

Among those recognized were Officers Josue Cruz, Francisco Luna and Luis Delgado for their actions and the high degree of composure and professionalism they displayed while responding to a report of a 3-month-old baby who was not breathing. 

On the morning of April 20, the officers arrived to find the baby’s mother performing CPR on the infant. At this time the infant’s skin was blue and his eyes were closed. The officers immediately took over providing CPR and administering oxygen to the infant. After approximately five minutes the baby expectorated fluid and began to regain consciousness and was transported to an area hospital for further evaluation. The baby, Kairo, has since recovered from this incident and he and his mother, Porche James, were present to see the officers honored for their lifesaving work that day.

A group of nine officers were also recognized for their heroic actions on the scene of a fire. On the evening of April 2, 2019, Lt. Brian Beliveau, while on routine patrol, observed an active structure fire in a four-story commercial and residential building on Belmont Avenue. As he approached the building Lt. Beliveau was told that two children were trapped in a third-floor apartment. Without hesitation or regard for his own safety Lt. Beliveau entered the building, encountering thick black smoke and limited visibility. As he made his way to the third floor he encountered several people in the stairwell who appeared to be disoriented by the extreme conditions and directed them to continue moving down the stairs.

Lt. Beliveau attempted to enter the apartment but was forced to move back down the stairwell to regain his breath and orientation due to the harsh conditions. He was then able to open the apartment door and the two children and their mother were able to escape the building. Officers Daniel Johnson, Colin Cochrane, James Trubia and Elizer Vasquez responded to assist Lt. Beliveau, also entering the building to assist the mother and her two children in exiting. 

Sgts. John Zollo and Shaun Linnehan (ret.) and Officers Patrick Denault and Brendan Linnehan also responded and entered the building to begin checking the apartment to ensure no one remained trapped inside. Lt. Beliveau was treated for smoke inhalation but as a result of the efforts of the responding officers no others on scene were injured. The fire would continue to burn for over 10 hours.    

The other commendations included: 

Officer Gregory Vatrano and Officer Scott Stelzer for their role in apprehending an armed suspect on March 13, 2019 who was believed to have intentionally started a fire at a multi-family residence that night. Officer Vatrano was stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife which sliced through his shirt but was stopped by the trauma plate that is worn as part of an officer’s gear.

Lt. Joseph Dunn, Officer Seth Barker, Officer Jacob Boudreau, Officer Christopher Duff and Officer Joshua Dufrane for their actions in the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 2019. They showed exceptional courage and dedication to duty in the face of extreme peril as they were shot at inside a gas station by an individual who was wanted by police in a neighboring town. 

Sgt. Jaime Bruno, Sgt. Mark Jones, Officer Seth Barker, Officer Edwin Irizarry (ret.), Officer Servio Jimenez, Officer Joseph Levesque, Officer Daniel Regan and Officer Ramon Sierra for the courage and professionalism displayed in the early morning hours of April 14, 2019 while dealing with a violent and chaotic series of events. During the incident, Officers Irizarry and Sierra were caught between two groups shooting at each other and Officer Irizarry was struck by gunfire. Despite the perilousness of the situation, Officer Sierra was able to call for assistance and inform other responding officers of the descriptions of the people involved.

Capt. Brian Keenan, Sgt. William Catellier, Sgt. James Mazza, Officer Christopher Bates, Officer Aristides Casillas and Officer Darrin Fitzpatrick (ret.) for their courage and professionalism in the face of a rapidly evolving event. On the afternoon of July 3, 2018, detectives assigned to the Strategic Impact Unit were conducting a drug investigation. While pursuing a suspect involved in the investigation, the suspect allegedly intentionally hit Officer Fitzpatrick with the vehicle, causing him to land on the vehicle’s hood. Out of concern for the safety of those in the area, Officer Fitzpatrick fired one round through the windshield of the vehicle before the suspect steered the vehicle in such a way that Officer Fitzpatrick was flung off of the vehicle and into a cement barrier. Officer Catellier provided emergency medical care to Officer Fitzpatrick, who would suffer career ending injuries as a result of this incident. The suspect had suffered a gunshot wound and detectives immediately placed him into custody and began rendering aid. 

Lt. Aaron Butler, Lt. Thomas Zarelli, Sgt. Matthew Benoit, Officer Clay Canning, Officer Dayaliz Cruz, Officer Chad Joseph and Officer Francisco Luna for their actions during the pursuit and standoff with an armed suspect on May 15, 2013. The officers showed immense courage and used their skills in observation, situational awareness, quick thinking and coordination as they responded to the incident. 

Officer Noel Agosto, Officer Seth Barker, Officer Eric Blair and K-9 Mr. Warner, Officer Brendan Curran, Officer Kelley Diederich, Officer Christopher Duff, Officer Maria Famularo, Officer Daniel McKay, Officer Spencer O’Quinn, Officer Michael Rodriguez and Officer Joel Rosemond for their work responding to an armed home invasion on June 22, 2019. Due to their vigilance and teamwork at the scene, multiple victims were rescued, three suspects were taken into custody and two illegally possessed firearms were recovered.

Sgt. Christopher Hitas, Officer Daniel Huard and Officer Nicholas Mancinone for their work on the evening of Sept. 12, 2020 apprehending an armed suspect who was the subject of a Narcotics Bureau investigation. Their instinctive and decisive actions and demonstration of bravery in pursuing the suspect indicated a great devotion to duty. 

K-9 Mr. Warner also received special recognition during the ceremony as he will retire later this year.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, “To our brave and dedicated men and women in blue, though they are not looking for or expecting any accolades or a pat on the back, it is extremely important that we take the time and recognize and commend the continued heroic efforts of our police officers. I want to thank each and every one of them and their families, who allow them to put their lives on the line day in and day out to make for a better Springfield. Thank you for your continued service to our residents and business community. Godspeed.”