Seven Colchester Police officers and staff members were awarded for their efforts and bravery at their annual awards banquet last week, sponsored by the Colchester-Milton Rotary club.
Rotary club member Chris Pingert helped organize the event, and said the Rotary likes to sponsor the award ceremony because they want to honor the officers for their service.
“The services that the police offer our community are so important and you want them to know how much you appreciate the work that they do,” she explained. She said it’s also a good way for the club to stay in touch with the officers and learn about new and exciting updates in the department.
Chief Doug Allen began the ceremony by thanking all staff and first responders for their efforts, no matter if they were awarded or not.
“The time you take to help someone in crisis, to offer a word of support or advice, to hold someone’s hand, to be that voice that they hold on to when they’re crying out for help, or be that hope for safety when all seems hopeless, makes all of you here today shining stars,” he said.
Deputy Chief Jeffrey Barton presented the awards at the ceremony. Two meritorious service awards were handed out for accomplishments that resulted in “a more effective and efficient police department.”
The presentation of one of these awards to Cpl. David Dewey and K9 Tazor left no one in the room with a dry eye. Barton thanked Dewey and the late K9 for their service, which totaled over 1,000 calls outside of normal patrol time.
He said the pair seized numerous drugs and tens of thousands of dollars in cash, captured suspects and saved lives, recounting a service call in the winter of 2015 for a woman threatening suicide at Colchester Pond and suffering from hypothermia.
“Without Dave and Tazor, this woman would not have survived,” Barton said.
Dewey and his new K9 Ozzy accepted the award to a standing ovation and thunderous applause.
Selectboard clerk Jeff Bartley also presented the pair a plaque to hang in the police department in honor of Cpl. Dewey and Tazor’s service.
“I think from the emotion in the room right now, we can all recognize the loss that the Colchester Police Department is experiencing right now,” Bartley said. “It is a small token of our appreciation [for] the support Tazor has given the community as a celebrity and as a family member and as a friend.”
A second meritorious award was given to Cpl. Mark Jacobs for his work as a school resource officer at both Colchester High School and Middle School since 2017. The CHS administrative team wrote a letter of support for Cpl. Jacobs, stressing the positive impact he has on the school community.
“His approach with students is characterized by care and respect, and students respond positively to his approach,” the letter read. “Students regularly seek out Cpl. Jacobs for help, support and guidance.”
Barton also presented two lifesaving awards; the first went to Officer Jeff Bauer for quickly applying a tourniquet to a man’s arm after he was injured. Cpl. Stephen Gutierrez was also presented the life saving award for helping a suicidal woman to safety after she threatened to jump off a bridge in Milton.
Communications specialist Candace Johnson and Sgt. Michael Fish were awarded the first certificate of commendation of the night, which recognizes “a high degree of competence and professionalism” in the department, explained Barton, who presented the awards.
They were awarded the certificate for their “Hello, how are you?” program which gives senior citizens the opportunity to sign up for a daily phone call check-in from the department.
Johnson was also presented a certificate of commendation for her research and work getting a treadmill into the communication center for dispatchers to use on calls, which Barton said has helped the health and well-being of staff.
“The device has been highly utilized with dispatchers walking as many as seven miles during a shift,” he added.
The final certificate was awarded to Chief Doug Allen for his idea to have the department assist Age Well with their delivery of Meals on Wheels to seniors in the community.
“I’m told that the idea for this process came in the shower while listening to VPR,” Barton joked. In all seriousness, he said the program is a great addition to the department’s commitment to community outreach; every type of staff member, from detective to school resource officer and Chief Allen himself, has helped deliver meals in Colchester.
Sgt. Peter Hull and Sgt. James Roy were also recognized at the ceremony for their recent promotions to Lieutenant, as well as Barton for his promotion to Deputy Chief of Police.