John Carlson served as Town Council chairman in Avon for years and frequently recognized the importance of the town’s police officers.
“We are so blessed to have professionals in the police department who put their lives on the line every day. None of us does that,” he said.
Though Carlson said those words routinely, their impact was never more powerful than when he received a call last November from his wife, saying his sister, Jeanne Ambrosio, had been in a crash on Route 6 and had been hospitalized.
Carlson said Ambrosio is now recovering well, since her life was saved thanks to the incredible work Officers Jason Raines and Eric Augustyn did at the scene of her crash.
Carlson was on hand to tell his sister’s story at the Farmington Police Department’s 2012 Awards Ceremony, held Thursday afternoon.
For their actions, Raines and Augustyn received the Life Saving Award.
Thirteen other officers were honored during the ceremony for their outstanding contributions to the department, as well as two citizens and four new officers.
Of the four new officers, Kyle Noddin, Jeff Glaude, Matthew Corcoran and Matthew Cosmos, Corcoran and Cosmos had been hired Thursday and were scheduled to head off to police academy Friday.
Dangerous criminals at the mall
Lt. Colin Ryan and Officer Kory Vincent were recognized for their work arresting two men who were in the midst of robbing a store at the mall using a knife. Ryan and Vincent chased the two suspects on foot into another store and were able to take them from the store without anyone getting hurt, said Police Chief Paul Melanson, who was presenting the awards.
“Because of the outstanding initiative and diligence of Lieutenant Ryan and Officer Vincent, two felony robbery suspects were apprehended,” Melanson said. The pair received Department Citations.
A cat burglary/home invasion
A team of officers, including Sgt. Timothy McKenzie, Officers Anthony Ruggiero, Scott Kennedy, Stanley Lada and Officer Joseph Capodiferro with K-9 Drak was presented with Department Citations for their work solving a rash of nighttime burglaries and removing a dangerous person from the community.
In June, Officers Ruggiero, Lada and Kennedy were sent to a house where a man had awakened to find a man in his house. The suspect fled the house and Kennedy found him on a street nearby, wearing different clothes. The resident identified the man as the intruder, Melanson said. Capodiferro and Drak responded and did a track from the crime scene to some woods nearby. They found the suspect’s clothes, some items taken from the house and items that had been stolen from other nearby homes in previous break-ins.
Once the suspect was in custody, Sgt. McKenzie questioned him and coordinated the effort to determine that he was responsible for a rash of nearby burglaries.
Melanson noted that nighttime burglars are some of the most dangerous criminals, because though daytime burglars attempt to avoid homeowners, nighttime criminals anticipate going into a house where someone will be home. Those encounters, Melanson said, can quickly turn violent and sometimes fatal.
“Because of the outstanding initiative and diligence of these five officers and police canine Drak, the victims were secured, the suspect was apprehended, physical evidence was recovered, and several criminal cases were closed by arrest,” Melanson said.
Vandalized vehicles at Farmington High School
Officer Joanna Blumetti received a Department Citation for her work in identifying three students who vandalized several Board of Education vehicles that were parked at Farmington High School on Nov. 21, 2011.
Blumetti collected and reviewed surveillance video of the parking areas and found footage of three suspects. Unfortunately, the quality of the footage made it difficult to make out the teens, Melanson said.
Blumetti used her knowledge of the students to identify teens she believed were involved and while interviewing them, got confessions that resulted in their arrests.
“Your efforts cleared this criminal act and placed responsibility for the damage on the guilty parties,” Melanson said. “Because of your outstanding initiative and diligence three felony suspects were apprehended.”
A string of landscape equipment thefts
Officer Anthony Ruggiero was issued a Department Citation for solving a string of landscape equipment thefts throughout the state. On May 28, Ruggiero was on patrol checking out Farmington Valley Equipment, where someone had earlier cut a fence to an area containing equipment. That night, Ruggiero saw a truck with a FVE trailer parked near the fence and, though the truck was empty, he noticed it was still warm.
Hearing sounds in the woods, Ruggiero called in Officer Capodiferro and K-9 Drak, who began a track in the woods. They flushed a man from the woods and arrested him. He later confessed he was in the middle of trying to steal a lawn mower from FVE valued at more than $10,000, Melanson said.
The man also admitted to other equipment thefts and the trailer he was towing was found to be stolen from a North Branford company and was worth $2,500.
"Because of your outstanding initiative and diligence this suspect was apprehended and confessed to multiple felony burglary and larceny incidents," Melanson said to Ruggerio. "This appears to have ended a short spree of landscaping equipment company burglaries."
A string of car thefts
Officers Aaron Benham and David Shaker received the Chief’s Letter of Commendation for solving a string of car thefts that took place on Tunxis Street in July of 2009. A stereo radio and other items were taken from several cars during the month. Officer Benham lifted and processed some fingerprints from one of the vehicles and sent them to the state forensic lab.
No results came up until June 27, when Officer Shaker heard that the lab had matched the prints to a suspect in Middletown. Shaker went to Middletown and met with the suspect, who confessed to the thefts.
“Officer Shaker and Officer Benham diligently and thoroughly investigated what many would classify as a simple theft from a vehicle,” Melanson said. “As a result of both of their efforts the suspect was identified by the state lab and cases will be closed through arrest."
Taking drunk drivers off the road
“Statistically, one person is killed every 31 minutes by a drunk driver. MADD takes this time each year to recognize those whose efforts make our streets safer and help fight drunk driving,” Melanson said.
Officers Kory Vincent and Kyle Mortensen received the MADD award for the most drunk driving arrests this past year – 40 and 38 DUI arrests respectively.
Justyna Bieszczad and Dr. Robert Lindenberg were given the Citizen's Award for using CPR to save a life.