From city Communications Director Brett Broesder:
Bridgeport Police Officers received some of the department’s highest honors at the department’s award ceremony this evening.
“We gather to honor acts of valor and bravery. Police officers work extraordinarily hard to keep the kids and families of Bridgeport safe,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “That’s why it is essential to recognize the outstanding police work done every day by the men and women of the department. I’m honored to be a part of this and grateful for all they do.”
At the ceremony, more than 100 police officers and civilians will be recognized for their efforts to make Bridgeport a better and safer place. “You will hear stories of heroism and selflessness. You will hear accounts of officers risking their lives to apprehend armed felons,” said Police Chief Joseph L. Gaudett Jr. “Mainly you will hear about tremendous police work, the kind of outstanding work that shouldn’t go unnoticed or unrecognized.”
Crime in Bridgeport is at its lowest levels in about 40 years. And, when compared to similar sized cities in New England, Bridgeport has seen the largest decrease in violent crime over the past decade, according to Rhode Island based WPRI.
“That doesn’t happen by accident. It is the result of the hard work of the men and women gathered tonight in this room,” said Mayor Finch.
Ø Click here to read a recent CT Post op-ed from Police Chief Joseph Gaudett on crime reduction and police recruitment efforts: bit.ly/1ED6Yha.
Ø Click here to watch video from the awards ceremony: bit.ly/1A29FEm
Ø Click here to see photos: bit.ly/1EpJiyI
Here are some of the officers receiving top awards:
THE MEDAL OF VALOR
The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award and may be awarded to officers who distinguish themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands for police services.
On September 25, 2010, Sgt. Gregg Granello and now-Detective Jason Ferri apprehended two armed suspects involved in a shooting. Sgt. Granello and Detective Ferri attempted to stop two individuals matching the description of the suspects as they crossed the Congress Street Bridge on bicycles.
When the Officers attempted to stop them, both suspects pulled out handguns and engaged the officers in a fire fight. The officers took cover and returned fire. The suspects subsequently ran out of ammunition and then threw the firearms into the water below the bridge. The firearms were subsequently recovered by the Bridgeport Police SCUBA Team.
For their bravery and heroism above and beyond their normal course of duty they were awarded The Medal of Valor.
THE PURPLE SHIELD
The Purple Shield is awarded to those officers whose actions within Law Enforcement have caused them to suffer a serious physical injury, permanent disfigurement, a protracted or permanent impairment of health, or death.
On April 23, 2012, Officer Jorge Larregui pursued a suspect on foot who had stolen a work van full of tools. A violent struggle ensued as Larregui tried to take him into custody. Despite suffering a fractured shoulder as a result of the struggle, Officer Larregui did not give up until the suspect was in custody.
For his service to this Department Officer Larregui was awarded the Purple Shield.
THE POLICE COMBAT CROSS
A Police Combat Cross may be awarded for the successful performance of an act of extraordinary heroism while engaged in personal combat with an armed adversary and facing imminent personal danger in the performance of duty.
On July 6, 2013, Sgt. Stacy Lyons and Officer John Topolski were dispatched to the German Club on the report of a street fight. Information gained at the scene led the officers to believe a large altercation involving gang members was taking place in the club. The officers responded to a chaotic scene within the club, where they identified an individual reaching inside his waistband for a firearm. A struggle ensued as these officers tried to gain control of the weapon. Approximately 60 individuals hostile to the police presence were in attendance. During the struggle the suspect was able to discharge his weapon in the direction of the officers. The suspect was taken into custody with no loss or serious injury to life or property.
For bravery in personal combat these Officers were awarded the Police Combat Cross.
THE MEDAL OF MERIT
The Medal of Merit may be awarded to officers who distinguish themselves by bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of duty, but to a lesser degree than required for the Medal of Valor. The Medal of Merit may be awarded to officers who distinguish themselves by performing well in stressful situations using exceptional tactics and/or judgment.
On July 6, 2013, Sgt. Adam Rozum and Officers Anthony Caiazzo and Keith Hanson assisted Sgt. Lyons and Officer Topolski in apprehending an armed suspect in the German Club who had fired his weapon in the direction of these officers. Several firearms and razors were ultimately recovered. As a result, Adam Rozum and Officers Anthony Caiazzo and Keith Hanson were awarded the Medal of Merit.
THE MEDAL OF MERIT, CIVILIAN AWARD, HONORARY SERVICE CITATION
On November 12, 2014, three individuals burglarized a home on the East End. Two young men who lived there realized the home was being burglarized, hid in a bedroom closet and dialed 911, speaking with dispatcher Lourdes Torres. As the intruders proceeded through the house, the young men stayed on the phone with Torres and provided important information about what was unfolding. Torres then relayed the information in real time to officers who were responding to the scene.
As a result, all three suspects were arrested.
As a result, the two residents were awarded the Civilian Award. Dispatcher Lourdes Torres was awarded the Honorary Service Citation. Officers Anthony Caiazzo, Juan Esquilin, Stavros Mirtsopoulos and Marcus Teixeira received the Medal of Merit.