The Irish American Police Officers Association (IAPOA) is pleased to announce that eight active-duty Massachusetts State Police Troopers were honored, and two others were honored posthumously, at a ceremony held on Oct. 25.
The ceremony began with the presentation of colors by the Massachusetts State Police Honor Guard, followed by the National Anthems of Ireland and the United States sung by IAPOA member Deputy Superintendent Pauline Wells of the Cambridge Police Department, and an opening prayer by IAPOA Chaplain the Rev. Paul Coughlin.
IAPOA President Bob Sweetland and Massachusetts State Police Col. Christopher Mason made brief opening remarks. Ten awards were presented.
Those honored were:
Trooper Michael J. Bucca; Trooper Matthew T. Braga; Trooper Vernon B. Hubbard — Lifesaving Award
On Nov. 15, 2019, Massachusetts State Police and Quincy Police responded to a report of a woman who entered the frigid waters off Wollaston Beach in Quincy before becoming distressed as she was swept away by currents. Trooper Bucca spotted the woman about 100 yards from shore. Trooper Bucca borrowed a kayak from an off-duty Quincy Police Department officer, paddled out to the woman and kept her secure until the arrival of the Marine 15 boat operated by Trooper Hubbard. The woman was pulled aboard the boat. Trooper Bucca and Trooper Braga performed CPR as Trooper Hubbard rushed the woman to an ambulance on shore. The Troopers later learned the woman had survived. For their heroism, quick thinking and quick response, Trooper Bucca, Trooper Braga and Trooper Hubbard were awarded the IAPOA Lifesaving Award.
Sgt. Liam Jones — Lifesaving Award
On April 11, 2020, late in the evening, Sgt. Liam Jones was assisting the Springfield Police Department when he overheard firefighters being dispatched to a report of a fire in a home on Parkside Street in Springfield, close to the Springfield Barracks. Sgt. Jones responded immediately and was the first person to arrive at the scene. Sgt. Jones ran inside the home to alert residents, prompting a woman and two men to flee the building. He then raced to the home’s second floor and directed more residents outside before checking every room to ensure no one else was inside. Heavy smoke and extreme heat kept Sgt. Jones from entering the building’s third floor, so the sergeant returned to the first floor to check rooms and then went outside to confirm that all residents were accounted for. Two second-floor residents were transported to a local hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, but all residents escaped. For his speedy reaction and bravery as he entered a burning home to help residents at great personal risk to himself, Sgt. Jones was presented the IAPOA Lifesaving Award.
Lt. Col. R. Scott Warmington; Trooper Cory M. Melo; Trooper Michael P. Moitoza — Medal of Valor
On Sept. 6, 2019, Trooper Melo was dispatched to a report of a white truck that struck multiple vehicles on Route 24 in Raynham. While en route to the scene, Melo was updated that the driver of the vehicle pulled over and physically assaulted a tow truck driver. Lt. Col. Warmington was in the area and responded to the scene as well, arriving first. Trooper Melo arrived at the scene to discover Lt. Col. Warmington engaged in a violent struggle with the suspect, who attempted to grab Lt. Col. Warmingon’s firearm, and then armed himself with a 14-inch, 5-pound metal tow hook that he swung violently. Trooper Moitoza then arrived at the scene, and the three Troopers were able to handcuff the suspect. Lt. Col. Warmington suffered a cut to his hand in the struggle. Once the suspect was in custody, Troopers learned the suspect was wanted for fleeing from a fight in Fall River where the suspect stabbed another individual. For their courage and professionalism in taking an armed and dangerous suspect into custody, Lt. Col. Warmington, Trooper Melo and Trooper Moitoza were awarded the IAPOA Medal of Valor.
Trooper Timothy R. Benedetto Jr. — Meritorious Service Award
On April 10, 2019, Trooper Timothy Benedetto Jr. responded to a call in the City of Chelsea to assist with the search for a suspect who had held a woman hostage and violently raped her after breaking into her home. Chelsea Police Sgt. Myles Coen located the suspect behind an old factory building, and Chelsea Officers Bernard Grayson and Joseph Santiago converged, prompting the suspect to jump into the Mystic River to avoid capture. Trooper Benedetto spotted the suspect in the water near the Meridian Bridge and pulled him from the river. The suspect was arrested and later convicted. For his courageous and relentless work to help capture a dangerous criminal, Trooper Benedetto was awarded the IAPOA Meritorious Service Award. Sgt. Coen, Officer Grayson and Officer Santiago were presented the same award at a ceremony in Chelsea earlier this month.
Detective Lt. William Coulter – Humanitarian Award (Posthumous)
Massachusetts State Police Detective Lt. William “Ironman” Coulter died on Sept. 30, 2019, following a 45-year career with State Police. Coulter was a cancer survivor who used his experience to counsel other cancer victims and to passionately raise money for cancer research. Coulter was known by many for his role as Chairman of Cops for Kids with Cancer, a police-run charity that provides much-needed funds to the families of children battling cancer. His nickname “Ironman” came from Coulter having run more than 150 marathons and 20 triathlons in his life to support charities. On the back of one of his favorite marathon T-shirts was the saying “Be strong. You never know who you are inspiring.” For a lifetime of inspiring the IAPOA and others who knew him; for his tireless work supporting those battling cancer and serving as chairman of Cops for Kids with Cancer, Detective Lt. Coulter was posthumously awarded the IAPOA’s Humanitarian Award. Two of Detective Lt. Coulter’s sisters, along with other family members, accepted the award.
Trooper Thomas W. Devlin — Medal of Honor (Posthumous)
On July 26, 2018, Trooper Thomas W. Devlin — a 35-year veteran of the Massachusetts State Police — was struck by a vehicle that failed to move over while Devlin was conducting a traffic stop along Route 3 in Billerica. Trooper Devlin was seriously injured, but survived for about two years after the incident as he underwent numerous surgeries and treatments. Trooper Devlin, whose family remained by his side throughout his courageous battle, succumbed to his injuries on Sept. 3, 2020. For his years of professionalism, steadfastness, and courage, Trooper Devlin was posthumously awarded the IAPOA’s Medal of Honor. Trooper Devlin’s wife and several members of his immediate family were in attendance to accept the award.
The IAPOA normally holds an annual awards dinner for all honorees, but has been unable to do so for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the IAPOA is recognizing honorees by traveling to meet them and present the awards individually. The IAPOA is hopeful they will be able to host an in-person dinner and awards ceremony again next year.
Individuals and organizations can be nominated for awards in six categories:
- Meritorious Service
- Community Service
- Humanitarian Acts
The IAPOA also recognizes the sacrifice made in line-of-duty deaths with a Medal of Honor presented posthumously to the families of fallen officers.
The IAPOA is a designated 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For further information or to become a member, visit www.irishamericanpolice.org.