West Hartford Police Sgt. Anthony Miele has been named ‘2021 Police Officer of the Year’ by American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96.
By Ronni Newton
American Legion Hayes-Velhage 96 has resumed the traditional format for celebrating members of the West Hartford police and fire departments, and Thursday night hosted a banquet and ceremony for Sgt. Anthony Miele, who has been named 2021 Police Officer of the Year.
Miele’s family and friends, colleagues and leadership from the police department, town officials, and Post 96 members attended the celebration at Rockledge Grille.
“A lot of us at this table were in the military,” said Heidi-Anne Mooney, junior vice commander of Post 96, who served as emcee for the event. But most finished their service after a few year’s commitment. “There’s something different with what you guys are doing. You’re serving our communities … you guys are giving your entire career. … You guys are dedicated to serving our community.”
Chief Vernon Riddick thanked the Legion for showing their appreciation for law enforcement, noting that the police also appreciate them for their service. “Without you there is no us,” Riddick said.
Riddick said early on he learned that Miele is low-key. “Over the time I’ve grown to appreciate the dedication, his commitment, and his steadiness. What we need in law enforcement, especially with supervisors, is steadiness. We don’t need peaks and valleys, we need people to keep their calm, to make difficult decisions in crisis situation and not panic. That is you brother, 100 percent,” Riddick said.
Miele, who was hired by the West Hartford Police Department in 2012, is part of a family that has deep ties to law enforcement. His great uncle, Mike, and uncle, Stephen, were members of the Hartford Police Department. His uncle, David, is a detective with the Manchester Police Department, and his father, Tony Miele, retired from West Hartford Police as a lieutenant.
In his current role as supervisor of the Community Support Unit, Miele has been involved with the apprehension of numerous dangerous felons and the seizure of drugs.
He has previously been an officer, sergeant, and coordinator with the Field Training Division, officer with the motorcycle unit, member of the CSU street crimes team, and a member the department’s Auto Theft Task Force. He has been an instructor in “less lethal” methods and use of ballistic shields, a L.O.C.K.U.P. (defensive tactics) instructor, and an Emergency Services Unit operator and team leader.
Miele has also received two Departmental Citations and two Unit Citations “which were related to investigations and arrests of armed robbery suspects and burglary suspect as well as the recovery of stolen motor vehicles and the arrest of their drivers,” Riddick said, and he has also received multiple letters of thanks from the community.
Patrick Harrell, commander of Post 96, presented Miele with the 2021 Police Officer of the Year Award.
“We recognize that they’re doing a service to the community and the nation 24/7,” Harrell said.
Harrell also presented Miele’s wife, Nicole, with a bouquet of flowers, noting that families of those who serve should also be recognized.
Deputy Mayor Leon Davidoff and Town Council member and Public Safety Committee Chair Carol Anderson Blanks read a proclamation from Mayor Shari Cantor declaring Thursday, July 8, 2021 “Sgt. Anthony G. Miele Day” in West Hartford.
Both the police department and Legion are part of what “makes West Hartford the community that it is,” Davidoff said. “The past year has been the most trying year of any in our lifetime, with the exception of those who may have served in war,” Davidoff said. “It was our own type of war fighting this pandemic. But because of the courageous behavior and the training and the commitment to service, service to others, the men and women of our first responders … our community was well taken care of. On a day-to-day basis, our residents are the fine beneficiaries of your service.”
Miele thanked all those who attended the ceremony and banquet, as well as his wife and other family members for their support.
“It’s a great honor to be recognized as Police Officer of the Year,” Miele said.
“Law enforcement’s not an easy career,” he said. “There are certainly a lot of good days, but there are a lot of hard days, too. I’m very fortunate to have had such a great career up to this point.”
When he was deciding what career to pursue, Miele joked that his dad suggested he might want become a cop because “you get to drive cars fast and shoot guns. … Well, it’s proven to be a little bit more complicated than that,” he said.
“It’s impossible to succeed in this career unless you’re surrounded by people that you trust, and I trust you guys with my life and I learn from you every day,” Miele said.
Post 96 Chaplain Barry Leghorn gave the invocation and offered a closing prayer.
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