Police Chief Matthew Clancy honored eight Duxbury police officers this week for their distinguished service during a standoff with an armed man in May and during the manhunt after the Boston Marathon bombings in April.
The commendations took place at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting at Town Hall Monday night. Six men and two women were recognized.
"The Duxbury Police Department has a policy to recognize exemplary ser- vice with various levels of awards,” said Clancy. Two lieutenants and the deputy chief review nominations for the awards and make recommendations to the chief.
Clancy awarded two men the department’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. Sergeant Dennis Symmonds and Officer Ryan Cavicchi of the K-9 unit were recognized for their “heroic actions” on May 21 when they followed an armed suspect who fled into the woods in Duxbury after trying to break into a house while waving a semi-automatic pistol at the occupants. The man then opened fire at the officers while in the woods.
Clancy said when pursuing the suspect into the woods both Symmonds and Cavicchi with K-9 dog Zar exercised “extreme courage, selflessness, and restraint” by not firing back when the suspect opened fire. He said their efforts led to the peaceful surrender of the man many hours later.
“It is my extreme pleasure to award you the highest honor that the Chief of Police can bestow,” Clancy said.
The Medal of Honor is awarded for “an outstanding act in the line of duty at imminent personal hazard of life, with full knowledge of the risk involved.” The chief also takes into consideration whether an officer was wounded or exposed to gunfire during the incident.
Clancy commended four other officers for their actions that day. He awarded Officer Mary Ellen Vidito and Officer Thomas Johnson with the Gallantry Star recognizing their “distinguished bravery” in their efforts to try to apprehend the armed suspect. Clancy said that while on patrol Vidito saw the man walking along Temple Street and tried to approach him but he ran back into the woods.
“You knowingly placed yourself in a hazardous situation,” said Clancy.
Johnson entered the woods to pursue the man but after shots were fired he took it upon himself to warn residents in the nearest houses.
Because of both of their actions “the suspect was contained” in the woods and ulti- mately captured, said Clancy.
The Gallantry Star is awarded for “an act of distinguished bravery in the arrest of a person who is a major threat to the welfare of the community and/or the officer.” Clancy also takes into consideration the hazards the officers encountered, their initiative, the level of threat presented by encountering the suspect and if they prevented death or injury to anyone.
Clancy also recognized Officer Dennis McKenney and Lieutenant Rodger Banfill for their “exceptional duty” that day. Their names will be engraved on a plaque at Duxbury police headquarters.
Banfill was recognized for his ability to take charge during the manhunt and McKenney was awarded for his hard work investigating the crime.
“During those first few critical minutes, several Duxbury police officers distinguished themselves,” said Clancy.
Banfill took operational command of all the logistics related to the manhunt including control of all the outside police and arranging their deployment. He also managed a team of officers who responded to residents who reported seeing the suspect.
“You made substantial contributions throughout the evening,” Clancy said.
McKenney conducted “an extremely thorough investigation and built a strong case against the suspect,” said Clancy. “Your attention to detail and thoroughness was evident throughout this highly significant criminal event.”
Citations of appreciation will be awarded to many other Duxbury police officers, Clancy said.
After the April 15 bombing of the Boston Marathon, Duxbury police officers who were assigned to regional response teams were activated to the city and participated in the manhunt for the bombing suspects, said Clancy.
Clancy awarded the Gallantry Star to Detective Daniel Brown and to Cavicchi for their work in helping to search for the Marathon bombing suspects.
Brown was a member of a S.W.A.T. team who was deployed on May 19 to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus to provide tactical support to FBI investigators who were conducting raids and searching the campus as well as a New Bedford apartment.
On the day of the bombing, Cavicchi was sent to Boston with K-9 Zar and he assisted in securing Copley Plaza and the Boylston street area. He also assisted as a member of a S.W.A.T. reaction team for the security of the president of the United States and was deployed to the city again after the killing of MIT officer Sean Collier. Cavicchi also partici- pated in a manhunt by searching individual buildings and homes in Watertown.
“You knowingly placed yourself in a very hazardous situation in the performance of your duty,” Clancy said. “Your actions led to the containment and the eventual arrest of a terrorist who attacked our nation.”
Two men and one woman were also recognized for their assistance after the bombings. Sergeant Dennis Symmonds, Officer Thomas Johnson and Sergeant Kristen Golden were awarded performance recognitions. Symmonds and Johnson were sent to Boston to secure South Station and the harbor after the attack. They also were part of the president’s motorcade, served at Fenway Park and Kenmore Square, and assisted at the funeral services of Collier. As part of the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council’s investigative unit, Golden was sent to Boston to assist in answering calls and following up on tips that came into the investigative command post, said Clancy.
“Your professionalism and enthusiastic efforts in support of the Boston police department and the city of Boston have not gone unnoticed,” Clancy told his officers. “You displayed persistence, initiative, teamwork and overall excellence in your actions that week. I thank you for a job well done and I am honored to issue you this performance award.”
During his presentation, Clancy also read a letter of ap- preciation sent to the Duxbury police department by Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis.