The sixth annual Police Recognition Dinner and Awards Ceremony took place on Friday evening, May 4 at the Double Tree Hotel. This festive family occasion takes place courtesy of the Rotary Club of South Burlington. This was a chance for the South Burlington Police Department to recognize its own and to be celebrated by their community. A number of Police Department members were accompanied by spouses and children, turning the event into a true family affair.
In addition to law enforcement personnel and their families, celebrants included Rotary Club members, City officials and City Council members. Governor Peter Shumlin, the evening’s guest speaker, complimented the Rotary Club on its “good judgment to honor the men and women who keep our community safe.” Addressing the police force itself, Shumlin told them that “you take risks that most of us don’t... because you care about your community and Vermont.” He gave a plug for the bill that was left dangling at the end of Vermont’s legislative session that day. Passage would have allowed law enforcement agents “the tools to fight the epidemic” of substance abuse in Vermont, said Shumlin, also pointing out that Vermont was tied with Maine for having the most opiate addicts per capita in the country. The proposed bill would allow police to get information from the health department’s prescription drug database without a warrant, speeding up the investigation of suspected drug abuse.
The evening’s Master of Ceremonies was Rotary President Stan Bradeen. He graciously welcomed one and all. He thanked the South Burlington police for their “effective and compassionate conduct.” Rotary member Katie Gonyeau added her thanks to the families of the police force for their patience. Even though family members don’t take the Oaths of Honor, they are called upon to make sacrifices on behalf of the community.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and the affirmation of the Oath of Honor, Police Chief Trevor Whipple gave a brief welcome and asked everyone to remember two members of the police family who were no longer there. Officer Ron Piper and Dispatcher Crawford Byers; both had passed away in recent years.
Several categories of awards were presented. Chief Whipple explained that civilian personnel as well as sworn officers of the Police Department were eligible to receive awards. Whipple warmly commended his entire department for its dedication and hard work. Over the past few years, he said, the department had made an effective transition to the new facility and worked within a restrictive budgeting situation and were now charting a smooth course. He acknowledged, with evident pride and admiration, five officers who had volunteered to help in southern Vermont in the wake of tropical storm Irene. They had done so without knowing the conditions under which they would be working or how long they would be there, but they had gone because they felt “it was the right thing to do.” This kind of selfless behavior, said Whipple, happens frequently in his department.
Three detectives were recognized for their service on the occasion of being rotated out. Whipple also acknowledged the retirement of long-serving Support Services Lieutenant Jim Snyder. He thanked two members of the Vermont National Guard, Jared Doohen and John Thibodeau, who worked for many years as criminal analysts with the police department in the government-sponsored Counterdrug program.
Awards were presented to four officers who had completed five years of service. The recipients were Officers 1st Class Sarah Superneau, Ron Bliss and Lindsay Wilson and Dispatcher Moira Adams. Chief Whipple himself had also completed five years of service this past September. An award for 15 years of service was given to Sergeant Shawn Demore and for 20 years of service to Sergeant Dan Fitzgerald.
A Letter of Commendation was presented to Officers 1st Class Andrew Johnson and Jon Namdar along with Lieutenant Jim Goslin. These awards represent special recognition for outstanding work.
Two Unit Citations were given for excellent work in particular actions. The first went to Sergeant Shawn Demore, Sergeant Andy Chaulk, Officer 1st Class Andrew Johnson and Corporal Andy Traynor for their work in tracking and capturing a prison escapee in July 2011. The second citation was given to Chaulk, Johnson and Traynor, for their action in March 2012 saving the life of a woman attempting suicide.
Senior Records Clerk Kelly Snyder received an award for Distinguished Achievement. This award is given for “highly creditable accomplishments bringing public acclaim to... the department,” which in this case included her 28-year tenure in the records division resulting in broad understanding of all aspects of law enforcement as well as her extensive grasp of details. Dispatcher Dan Greaves also received a Distinguished Achievement Award, inspired by an incident on April 7, 2011. That evening, he fielded a call about a robbery and shooting at an unidentified location in South Burlington. Due to quick and thorough thinking, he was able to determine the location of the incident and send officers to the scene, all the while fielding other incoming calls.
A third award for Distinguished Achievement was presented to Kevin Grealis, who has served for six years as School Resource Officer in the South Burlington School District, where he has built strong relationships with students and engendered genuine respect and trust.
Three officers were honored with awards for Meritorious Service. They were Sergeant Doug Dubie, Sergeant Dan Brunelle and Corporal Darren Beers. These awards are given “for highly unusual accomplishments under adverse conditions with some degree of hazard to life and limb to the nominee or where death or injury to a third party is prevented.” On August 20, 2011, the three answered a call involving a suicidal male with a firearm. They coaxed the subject into submission and apprehended him without incident “for the best possible conclusion for all people involved.”
The Gallantry Star was presented to Sergeant Dan Brunelle and Officer Dan Boyer for their “act of distinguished bravery in the arrest of a person who is a major threat to the welfare of the community and/or the officer.” Brunelle and Boyer had disarmed a man with a firearm without injury to anyone. On August 5, 2011, Officer Boyer answered a call to assist the South Burlington Fire Department with a complaint about a resident creating large fires in his backyard. The Fire Department’s attempt to extinguish the fire was thwarted when the subject aimed a scoped rifle at the fire truck. In the face of the armed homeowner’s threatening behavior and exhortations to stay off his property, plus the addition of two other male subjects joining the armed individual, Officer Boyer, with major assistance from Sergeant Brunelle, secured the armed subject and stabilized the situation until additional assistance arrived.
Chief Whipple wrapped up the presentations by saying with great fondness, “This is a snapshot of a day in the lives of the folks I work with every day.” Not only were the award presentations witnessed by the recipients’ families, but also by the extended family that is the South Burlington Police Department.
The Rotary Club’s major sponsor for this year’s event was Vermont Gas, with additional sponsorship by Dorset Square (the Blue Mall), Pomerleau Real Estate and Shelburne Square (Talbots Plaza).
SOURCE: Lois Price, Correspondent