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West Hartford Police Give Awards, Recognize Service During Annual Ceremony

From left: Asst. Chief Dan Coppinger awards unit citations to Off. Jeremiah Gagnon, Sgt. Brett Balisciano, and Sgt. Tom Lazure. Courtesy photo

The West Hartford Police Department recently held its annual Citizen and Police Officer Awards Ceremony at Town Hall.

By Ted Glanzer, West Hartford Press

[Editor’s Note: This article appears with permission of TurleyCT Community Publications. To read more articles in the West Hartford Press, visit TurleyCT.com.]

The scene set up like something out of a television show. In October 2017, the West Hartford Police Department received a call from a driver who said that he was being followed by a car with four people in it who were trying to shoot him. 

The caller stated that the chase started in Hartford, but broken off in the Bishops Corner area and was speeding east on Albany Avenue toward Hartford.  

West Hartford Officer Aaron Thomas was on duty, located the suspects’ car and tried to pull them over. The driver, however, refused to stop and accelerated instead, running several stop signs. At one point the suspect rammed Thomas’ cruiser when Thomas tried to box the suspects in.

Soon both Hartford and West Hartford units were involved in the chase. The suspects’ vehicle popped a tire and pulled into a driveway, with the occupants running from the car.  Thomas pursued the suspects alone on foot  and eventually chased and apprehended on suspect running through a backyard by Tasing him. Officer Thomas was alone as he chased one of the suspects through the backyards.  

The car and its occupants were also linked to several other street robberies that had occurred both in Hartford and West Hartford.  With this arrest that crime spree ended. 

For his actions, Thomas was awarded the distinguished service award by the West Hartford Police Department at a the annual Citizen and Police Officer Awards ceremony on May 18. Asst. Chief Dan Coppinger presided over the ceremony, and Mayor Shari Cantor and Town Council Public Safety Committee Chair Leon Davidoff also assisted in handing out the awards.

In another incident, Officers Timothy Cameri and Josephy Hopkins were awarded life saving awards for providing medical assistance to a man with an 8- to 9-inch gash on his leg, as well as a serious laceration on his wrist that appeared to cut an artery and was bleeding heavily. 

Sgt. Aaron Vafiades, Officer Christopher Lyth and Officer Jeremiah Gagnon were also given life-saving awards for assisting a for reviving a man after he collapsed in a parking lot after having eaten at the Corner Pug. Vafiades, Lyth and Gagnon all assisted in providing CPR as the man received additional treatment from the West Hartford Fire Department and AMR ambulance staff. The man recovered his pulse and recovered from the incident.

Other awards included:

Department Recognition Award: Maria Salas, Patricia Gleason, Courtney Melanson, Officer Peter Senick, Nicholas Romans and Eileen Bartlett.

Police Unit Citations: Sgt. Anthony Anderle, Det. Jeremy Tangarone, Officer Erich Moylan, Officer Robert Hass (thwarting a car jacking); Sgt. Brett Balisciano, Sgt. Thomas Lazure, Officer Raymond Narcisa, Officer Jeremiah Gagnon, Officer Brian Wallace (evacuating a building that was on fire); Todd Hungerford, Judith Morrell, Lauren Rudzinski, Nicole Salter (communicating information concerning a large accident on Interstate-84); Sgt. Christoper Tyler (unit award), Vafiades, Gagnon, Officer Michael Boughton, Officer Jeremy Swank, Officer Migue Godoy, Officer Lauren Rieger, Officer Matthew LaRiviere, Officer Christopher Leonard, Officer Merrick Forader (responding to a stabbing victim and apprehension of the suspect).

Police Merit Awards: Nicholas Sanford (two awards) (apprehending two teens breaking into cars; while off-duty, helped apprehend burglary suspects), Officer Brian Delgrande (two awards)(apprehension of a “professional” burglar and recovery of stolen property)(apprehension of a person who had broken into numerous vehicles), Officer John Cardone (pursuit of a shoplifting suspect that led to an arrest), Officer Brian Gallagher (while off-duty, assist in apprehension of woman who had allegedly stolen $150 worth of merchandise from Newington Walmart), Detective Benjamin DelMonte and Detective Steven Ciarleglio (police work that led to apprehension of a robbery suspect, Officer John Begin (prevented at least one alleged burglary and convicted felon taken into custody) and Sgt. Kerry Cloukey (assist in apprehending alleged car burglar/car thief).

Capt. Jeremy Clark and Officer Douglas Martindale were also recognized for 20 years of service, while Donna Allen was recognized for 25 years of service.

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