After more than 32 years with the department, James McIntyre is retiring in July.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In November, officers were sent to Cherry Street for a call of suspicious activity.
The officers received information about a potential vehicle but nothing was immediately in the area. Officer John Virgilio kept it in mind and later in the day he saw it. He tracked it down and with Officers Edward Pezze, Michael Lupisella, Michael Silver, and Matthew Killeen.
There were four individuals from Springfield in the vehicle, one had an arrest warrant, and search of the car found a firearm and 150 bags of heroin. It was said to be one of the biggest heroin busts the department has seen in a traffic stop.
"These four were not from our area. They were armed and had brought narcotics into a community," said Lt. Thomas Dawley.
Dawley felt the officers had done a remarkable job in that service and nominated them for a departmental award.
Lt. Mike Maddalena had a similar story about Officer Brenna Dorr, whose work led to a search warrant on two locations that resulted in the confiscation of handguns, and thousands of dollars worth of cocaine and charges against six individuals.
Dorr had also spent more than a year investigating a prostitution ring in the city in which two men were getting women suffering from addiction into prostitution. The men would recruit them, photograph them, and advertise them on social media for sale. They'd arrange places and rides. And then they'd take a portion of the money or simply pay the women in drugs. The investigation had taken a full year before charges were brought but Dorr had to put in extensive hours and work with numerous organizations to bring it all together.
In another case, Officer Brandon Gallagher had to comfort a victim of sexual assault at the hospital. It was only because of his ability to make her feel safe and comfortable that the department was able to get the information needed to arrest the culprit, according to Sgt. Jacob Barbour.
Lt. Glen Decker remembered when Sgt. Cheryl Callahan rushed out of the booking room because of a call of a woman having a baby. The woman was on the phone with dispatcher Jennifer Carr, who was able to keep her calm and talked her through the delivery. Callahan, an emergency medical technician, arrived on the scene and took care of the infant and brought the two to the hospital. Decker thought Callahan and Carr deserved something extra for that day.
Officer Thomas Bowler Jr. was able to save a toddler choking on a piece of an apple in the Police Department's lobby in November and Lt. Jeffrey Bradford thought that was worthy of an award.
The ceremony included recognizing officers who had gone above and beyond.
Officers Kipp Steinman, Brett Henault, and Dep. Sheriff Michael McMullen were able to get a weapon off the street after conducting an investigation and subsequent surveillance.
Steinman, Sgt. David Kirchner, and Lt. Decker used their knowledge of a neighborhood and connections they had gained over the years to get vital information in a 2017 homicide that ultimately solved the case.
"The work done by these three, in this case, I found to be remarkable. The relentless pursuit to bring the homicide victim's killer to justice never subsided. They overcame whatever obstacles that got in their way," Maddalena said.
Dorr, Gallagher, Barbour, Virgilio, and Officer Christopher Coffey chased down a suspect who attempted to evade police on Tyer street to get yet another gun off the street. Dawley thought that effort went above and beyond as well.
John Gray was recognized for serving nearly every role the department has during his tenure and an entire unit of personnel were honored for their efforts in being able to manage a high numbers of violent crime investigations a few years ago in the midst of a large turnover in the detective bureau and with command staff.
A committee of officers of various ranks in the department agreed that those cases went above and beyond a typical day and decided to give commendation to those officers.
However, Maddalena says the officers just feel it is part of their job.
"The most common [question] was why am I getting and the award for this, I was just doing my job," Maddalena said of when he informed each officer of about the honor.
The department's leadership feels that type of work should be recognized even if the officers just feel it is their job. The department had for years recognized exceptional work of the officers but it had been in a very informal way. Police Chief Michael Wynn said the recognition was often well after the incident occurred.
"As long as the system was out of the chief's office, it kept bogging down," Wynn said.
The department has put together internal groups to head those efforts and to help make sure that officers are noted for when they go above and beyond, when they hit milestones in their career, and when they are set to retire. This year that has even expanded to include a public ceremony, tied in with National Police Week.
"It is a seed. This is the first time we are doing this," Maddalena said.
The recognition is now part of the department's promotional ceremony. Launched last year, the Police Department is holding annual pinning ceremonies to honor promotions.
The pinning ceremony honored five who are moving into sergeant positions -- Barbour, Callahan, Kirchner, John Mazzeo, and John Murphy III. Each of those was pinned with their new badges by loved ones on the stage at Taconic High School.
The event also recognized the anniversaries of those hitting 20, 25, 30, and 35 years of service within the department. The department also recognized the upcoming retirement of McIntyre after more than 32 years of service to the department.
The ceremony included a formal posting of the colors, Mary Brinton playing bagpipes, Cali Cybulski singing the National Anthem, and an invocation and benediction by Chaplain Russell Moody. Mayor Linda Tyer, City Council President Peter Marchetti, and Sheriff Thomas Bowler joined department leadership on stage to formally recognize each officer.
"You accept a sacred duty and make a promise that you keep for yourselves, your partners, and the people in our city," Tyer said, calling the officers protectors.
The mayor congratulated the awardees, those being promoted, and those hitting milestones. She reflected on a ride along she took with an officer and saw the variety of calls the department receives. And she praised the families of officers who worry about their loved ones while they are at work.
"Our community supports you, cares about you, and always wishes for your safe return to your families," Tyer said.
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