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Annual Awards Offer 'Snapshots' Into Life of a Police Officer, 'Everyday Heroes'

The 3rd Annual Peabody Police Awards Ceremony was held May 21 at City Hall and recognized 28 officers for their actions in incidents over the past year.

Twenty-eight officers were recognized Tuesday afternoon during the 3rd Annual Peabody Police Awards Ceremony at City Hall. They each received praise and an official commendation from Chief Robert Champagne for "exemplary" actions in the line of duty as individuals and for team efforts in several cases over the past year.

Champagne said they are "everyday heroes."

"These are the things that your officers, your family do every day to keep your city safe, to make life better for those who want to come here and live here, to work here, to play here," he said.

Ten officers were recognized together for their team effort Tuesday in one incident in which they successfully defused a volatile situation and convinced a man to abandon threats to shoot police officers, innocent bystanders and commit suicide in his apartment.

The incident occurred just days after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and tensions were "extremely high" recounted Champagne.

"A tactical plan was effected to take precautions in reducing the risk of life for all involved. Surrounding apartments were vacated, a pass key was obtained, the subject's cell phone was pinged to determine his exact location in the apartment, and his daughter was transported to police headquarters for continued attempted negotiations by phone," said Champagne, reading from an incident report on Tuesday.

The report said that shortly after 7 p.m. on Dec. 16, Peabody officers responded to an apartment at 50 Warren St. to check on a 53-year-old man whose daughter said he was making violent threats after a family disturbance.

The daughter said he threatened to shoot people one-by-one with a rifle before killing himself.

Sgt. Robert Waugh was the officer in charge of the scene and directed officer Nancy Hart to call the man via telephone while notifying Capt. Dennis Bonaiuto to obtain a commitment order to arrest the man in light of mental health concerns.

Bonaiuto responded, along with Detective Eric Ricci, a trained hostage negotiator, and officer Patrick Conrad, who knew the man.

The man, however, refused to cooperate and open his door, leading police to assemble an entry team. Hours passed as the team attempted to force its way inside safely while another team kept a dialogue running with the man.

Eventually, the officers were able to peacefully enter the apartment and take the man into custody with minimum incident. He was then brought to a mental health facility by ambulance.

Champagne said the officers involved showed great "leadership," "professionalism," "restraint" and "compassion" in dealing with the situation and ultimately saving a life and possibly more.

The 10 officers receiving citations were: Bonaiuto, Waugh, Conrad, Ricci, Hart, Sgt. Doug Marcus, officer Justin Cecil, officer Matthew Mason, Detective David B. Murphy and Detective Stephanie Lane.

Peabody Patch will be publishing more of these stories from Tuesday's ceremony in the days ahead.

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