|STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2011
TroopS F, H and I
Receive Service Awards
State Police Troopers from Troop F in Westbrook, Troop I in Bethany and Troop H in Hartford received awards for service during a ceremony November 17 at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.
Twice a year, the Connecticut State Police honors Troopers who demonstrate bravery and outstanding service in the line of duty. The ceremony also honors men and women serving in local and federal law enforcement agencies, those serving as first responders, and civilians. Award winners received medals and certificates from Commissioner Reuben F. Bradford and State Police Colonel Danny R. Stebbins.
Awards were presented in five categories:
Ø The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to those who render service with a high degree of alertness, perseverance and superior judgment in the performance of a difficult task resulting in the protection of life, recovery of property, the prevention of – or solving of – a major crime or the apprehension of an armed or dangerous person.
Ø The Lifesaving Award is presented to those who save a human life or make a valiant attempt to save a life.
Ø The Outstanding Service Award is given to those who successfully perform an extreme, complex or difficult investigation. The Trooper may demonstrate exceptional skill or ingenuity in the apprehension of a wanted person, provide outstanding service to the public and/or continuously achieve excellence in performance over an extended period of time.
Ø The Unit Citation is awarded to members of a department, a command or group who combine their resources to achieve success in an investigation or event. The citation recognizes exceptional collective efforts.
Ø The Commissioner’s Recognition Award is presented by the agency commissioner to a person who has been instrumental in helping the State Police accomplish their job of public safety for all. This is generally presented to civilians (non-law enforcement).
Awards were presented to:
Trooper First Class Edward Benecchi, Trooper First Class Thomas Blake, Trooper First Class Jose Rosado,,Sgt. Eric Dency, Trooper First Class Nelson Abarzua, Trooper First Class Jack Vegliante, Prospect Officer Anthony Giordino, Prospect Officer Douglas Fairchild, Waterbury Police Officer Michael Varrone, Waterbury Police Officer Justin McCulloch, Waterbury Police Officer Steve Lanese, Dispatcher Valerie Hull, Mark Guastaferri (civilian) On March 26, 2011, 10 a.m., Mr. Guastaferri, a customer at a Prospect bank, called Troop I to report that the bank was being robbed and that shots were fired inside the bank. Mr. Guastaferri provide Troop I desk Trooper Vegliante a description of the suspects and their vehicle and their direction of travel. Dispatcher Hull alerted surrounding towns and State Police Troops of the ongoing situation.
Prospect Officer Giordino located the suspect vehicle on a local road. The suspect driver drove into a housing development in Waterbury and jumped out of the moving vehicle, which then traveled into a wooded area and impacted a tree. The armed perpetrators fled by foot in opposite directions.
An intense search was started by officers of the Prospect Resident Troopers Office, Troopers from Troops I and A, and Waterbury Police. Trooper Blake observed a suspect running along a Waterbury road. He took the suspect into custody at gunpoint as Waterbury Police backup units arrived.
A short time later, Prospect Officer Fairchild tracked one of the suspects on foot while off-duty Trooper Abarzua saw the suspect running into a backyard. Trooper Rosado took that suspect into custody with the assistance of Trooper Abarzua.
Trooper Benecchi, along with K-9 Sarik, conducted a track from the bank robbers’ abandoned clothing – which contained a loaded .38 caliber handgun used in the crime – directly to the second suspect. Both suspects were in police custody within 20 minutes of the robbery.
All sworn Troopers and Officers earned an Award for Meritorious Service. Dispatcher Hull and Mr. Guastaferri each earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.
Trooper Robert Mangham, Trooper First Class Sean Kilbride, Trooper Anthony Guliano, New Haven Police Officer Christopher Cacela, New Haven Police Officer Martin Feliciano On April 19, 2011, at 6:45 p.m., Troop I was contacted by Wallingford Police regarding the armed robbery of a store on South Colony Road. The suspects fled in a vehicle that was last seen on Interstate 91.
Trooper Mangham observed the vehicle on I-91 and followed it until other units arrived to assist and conduct a felony stop in New Haven. Trooper Kilbride and Trooper Guliano arrived at the scene as the suspect, who was still hidden within the vehicle, jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off. All three Troopers pursued the suspect for more than three miles.
The pursuit ended when the suspect drove through a fence of a New Haven school. The suspect ran from the vehicle and, after a foot pursuit, was apprehended with the assistance of New Haven Police Officers Cacela and Feliciano.
All Troopers and Officers earned an Award for Meritorious Service.
Trooper First Class Robert Hart, Trooper First Class Justin Lanati, Trooper First Class James Matlock, Sgt. John Mesham On July 19, 2011, at 6:40 p.m., Troop F received a “be on the lookout” report for a vehicle driven by a Maryland man who was en-route to Groton to kill his wife and then himself. A cell phone ping placed the vehicle in East Haven. Within a short time, Trooper First Class Robert Hart spotted a vehicle matching the description.
Trooper Hart and Trooper First Class Justin Lanati maneuvered through traffic and closed in on the vehicle. A records check showed the vehicle was registered to the suspect. Between Exit 69 and the Baldwin Bridge, the vehicle was signaled to stop by Trooper First Class James Matlock and Sergeant John Mesham and Troopers took the suspect into custody. Located in plain sight was a new semi-automatic pistol with a box of ammunition, purchased earlier in the day in Maryland. All Troopers and Officers earned an Award for Meritorious Service.
Oxford Police Officer Dennis J. D’Archangelo, Oxford Officer Gary M. Soules, Sergeant Daniel Semosky On March 28, 2011, at 6:30 p.m., the Oxford Resident Troopers Office was notified by Milford Police of an investigation involving a female in their city and her former boyfriend, a resident of Oxford. The female provided an e-mail written by the former boyfriend in which he threatened suicide. The female confirmed that he owned both a shotgun and a handgun, and that he had attempted to commit suicide in the past.
Oxford Resident Supervisor Sgt. Semosky, along with Officers D’Archangelo and Soules responded to the boyfriend’s Oxford residence. After gaining entry into the home, the officers conducted a tactical search of the residence. They quickly entered the distraught man’s bedroom, swiftly subduing and securing him, along with his loaded 12-gauge shotgun. The distraught man confessed that he was about to shoot himself and only immediate State Police intervention prevented him from going through with his plans.
Officers D’Archangelo & Soules and Sgt. Semosky each earned a Lifesaving Award.
Oxford Police Officer Gary M. Soules, Oxford Officer Peter J. Hopson On June 5, 2011, 10:18 p.m., Oxford Police Officers Soules and Hopson responded to a burglary in progress at a CL&P compound in Oxford. Upon arrival, Officer Soules discovered a large opening cut in a fence with several large rolls of copper wire piled outside of the opening. Officer Hopson secured the front side of the compound and both officers began a coordinated tactical search of the dark interior of the lot with their service weapons drawn.
The officers observed two figures hiding in the shadows of a storage container located in a corner of the lot. Officer Soules approached the suspects and ordered them to lie on the ground. Officer Hopson covered the suspects with his weapon while Officer Soules handcuffed them and took them into custody.
The two suspects had entered several storage units and removed various power tools from trucks parked inside the compound. The two men were found to be suspects in several other similar incidents in surrounding towns. The immediate response of Officers Soules and Hopson resulted in the apprehension of two felons in the act of stealing $10,000 dollars worth of tools and materials.
Officers Soules and Hopson each earned an Award for Outstanding Service.
Trooper John McDonald, Trooper Corey Clabby On May 1, 2011, Troopers from Troop I responded to a private residence in Prospect for a reported burglary. It was determined that someone had forced entry into the home and removed multiple valuables, including two safes, coins, personal identifying documents, military awards and citations – including a Bronze Star – and an Eagle Scout Award.
Over several months, Trooper John McDonald and Trooper Corey Clabby conducted a detailed burglary investigation which led to a suspect. The suspect used the documents that he obtained during the burglary to impersonate the victim, who was on active duty in Afghanistan at the time of the burglary. During his impersonation, the accused was able to steal approximately $7,000 from the victim’s bank accounts. The accused also applied for a credit card in the victim's name and used it to charge an additional $8,000 to the victim’s credit.
On September 24, 2011, following the investigation by Troopers McDonald and Clabby, the accused was arrested and charged with 146 violations. This detailed and complex investigation required patience, commitment and outstanding police skills.
Troopers McDonald and Clabby each earned an Award for Outstanding Service.
State Police Computer Crime Electronic Evidence Task Force, State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, United States Secret Service, FBI In February 2011, the State Police Computer Crime Unit began a criminal investigation into the possession and distribution of child pornography by a community member in a position of trust. The alleged perpetrator was utilizing a highly-sophisticated encrypted network. Members of the FBI Internet Crimes Unit were asked to assist and help monitor the suspect. As the case evolved, it became apparent that multiple search warrants would need to be executed simultaneously and the suspect’s whereabouts would need to be monitored to ensure that evidence was not compromised.
Detectives from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations were called upon to assist. A coordinated approach by the Computer Crime Unit, the FBI and BCI led to the successful execution and seizure of evidence. The investigation by the team revealed that the incriminating evidence seized from the suspect had been encrypted in password algorithm not seen in the law enforcement community.
Members of the Computer Crime Unit, the FBI and the Secret Service Computer Crime Unit worked together to break the cipher, leading to a federal arrest warrant for the perpetrator. This case best exemplifies the collaboration of bringing multiple law enforcement agencies and units together to ensure a successful outcome. All involved earned a Unit Citation Award.
Troop F, Clinton Fire Department, Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, U.S. Air Force -102nd Rescue Squadron On June 10, 2011, at 2:37 p.m., Troop F received a call from Bradley International Airport regarding a small airplane that reported engine trouble six miles south of the Chester Airport. A military C130 aircraft, which was conducting maneuvers in the area, overhead the distress beacon signal and reported the approximate coordinates of the crash somewhere in the heavily wooded area of the Cockaponsett State Forest.
A ground search into the heavily wooded area was immediately conducted by Troopers and K9 units from Troop F, by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Conservation Police and by personnel from the Westbrook and Clinton Fire Departments. After searching for more than an hour after the initial report, Troopers, DEP Officers and Clinton Fire personnel located the heavily damaged small airplane approximately one mile into the forest. The pilot was pronounced deceased on scene while the passenger sustained life-threatening injuries. Troopers were able to crawl under the wreckage to maintain the passenger’s airway and provide verbal support until advanced life support units arrived. The passenger was later transported to a local hospital via helicopter and survived his injuries.
The organized teamwork of all responders were instrumental in rapidly locating the downed aircraft and saving the life of the passenger. All involved earned a Unit Citation Award.
Troop H, Hartford On March 24, 2011, at 10:30 p.m., Trooper First Class Scott Menard and Trooper Sean Mahar were dispatched to a reported armed robbery of two teenagers that had taken place inside a van on the exit 33 ramp from Interstate 91 South in Hartford.
Troopers Menard and Mahar, along with Sergeant Kevin Boulier, obtained information on five suspects using social network pages. The Troopers traveled to Enfield where Enfield Police had one suspect detained on an unrelated incident. While at the scene in Enfield, Sgt. Boulier and Trooper Menard observed the suspect vehicle approaching them and were able to safely stop and apprehend the second suspect. A third suspect walked to the scene and was recognized by Sgt. Boulier from the photos posted on the Internet; he was taken into custody. Information was obtained by Trooper Menard and Trooper Mahar resulting in the arrest of the fourth suspect. The fifth suspect was taken into custody by Enfield Police shortly thereafter.
The Troopers located the revolver used in the crime at the residence of the second suspect. The perseverance of these three Troopers resulted in the arrests of five suspects within hours of this crime being committed. Their actions earned them a Unit Citation Award.
Statewide Narcotics Task Force-North Central Office, Hartford Police Dept., Bristol Police Dept., Drug Enforcement Administration On May 18, 2011, members of North Central Office of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force, working cooperatively with the Hartford Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, initiated an investigation into a suspicious crate, originating from outside the United States and arriving at a Hartford area commercial delivery service. A State Police canine alerted to the presence of narcotics in the crate.
A warrant was obtained and executed, resulting in the seizure of 230 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of $3.5 million. The SNTF and DEA members identified a New York City resident as a suspect; this person was travelling to the Hartford area to pick up the contraband. Detectives conducted a controlled delivery of the cocaine to the suspect in Windsor Locks, charging the subject with a variety of felonies.
The investigative steps – from initial detection of the crate to the successful arrest of the suspect – occurred within a four-hour period. The success of this investigation was possible through the effective, experienced efforts and collaborative approach of the SNTF and DEA members. This was the largest state-level cocaine seizure with arrest made in the history of Connecticut law enforcement. All involved earned a Unit Citation Award.
United States Marine Lance Corporal Shawn Amero On April 12, 2011, at 1:23 p.m., Troop F received reports of a serious motor vehicle accident on Interstate 95 Southbound in Westbrook.
Marine Lance Corporal Amero stopped at the crash scene, where he observed flames coming from the front hood of the vehicle. He observed that the operator was unconscious inside the heavily-damaged vehicle. Lance Corporal Amero stopped a passing tractor trailer truck and used the truck’s fire extinguisher to put out the fire.
The alertness and quick action of Lance Corporal Amero saved the life of the vehicle operator in this accident. Lance Corporal Amero earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award. He is currently serving his country in Afghanistan and was unable to attend the awards ceremony. His mother, Lisa Craig, accepted the award on his behalf.
Dispatcher Paula Freeman On July 21, 2011, at approximately 12:30 a.m., Dispatcher Paula Freeman was working at Troop H when she fielded a 911 call for medical assistance. The man on the telephone reported that his wife was in labor at their home in Manchester and requested an ambulance.
Dispatcher Freeman immediately notified the deskman and advised him to contact ambulance services. She then consulted the childbirth section of the emergency response book in the dispatch area so that she could guide the caller. She displayed great professionalism as she remained calm and guided the man in taking care of his wife. Dispatcher Freeman remained on the telephone with the new father, directing him on proper steps to be taken during the birth. The man delivered his baby girl within minutes of the call being made. Dispatcher Freeman maintained constant communication with him until the ambulance arrived.
Dispatcher Freeman is to be commended for her outstanding dispatching skills in assisting these parents during such a joyous, yet highly critical occasion. She utilized her training and experience with a calm demeanor during this incident. Dispatcher Freeman earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.
Trooper First Class Tina Farrell From March 2009 to May 2011, Trooper First Class Tina Farrell served as the coordinator and event manager for the 4th, 5th, and 6th Annual Sergeant Geoffrey Schweitzer Memorial Pancake Breakfasts at the State Police Training Academy. This time-consuming job required Trooper Farrell to coordinate with nearly 50 outside agencies, vendors and suppliers.
The day of the pancake breakfast not only includes the meal, but an antique police car show, numerous children’s activities, live band, the Convincer and Rollover machines, Tactical Team Static displays, and a major crime van. Her personal determination and dedication to the cause and the event were evident in every aspect of her performance. Seemingly without effort, Trooper Farrell organized an all-volunteer force of 40 people to staff the event.
As an additional, self-imposed task, Trooper Farrell never let the event detract from the demands of her duties at the academy and she donated a great deal of personal time towards success. Under Trooper Farrell’s leadership for three years, the pancake breakfasts raised more than $22,000, all of which was donated to the American Cancer Society for cancer research. The event continues to serve as a very positive venue for the Connecticut State Police, receiving endorsements from local television stations and positive reviews from Connecticut citizens.
Trooper First Class Tina Farrell went above and beyond her job description by taking on this task. She earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.