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Gomo, the beloved Brockton police dog that died late last year and whose service attracted law enforcement from all over the state, is in the running for the American Humane Society’s Hero Dog Awards.
This is the second year the society is sponsoring the award, which involves hundreds of dogs from across the country in several different category. Gomo has been nominated in the law enforcement/arson dogs group. A winner in each category as well as an overall winner will be named.
Gomo, a 12-year-old Czechoslovakian shepherd, worked as a police dog for more than a decade. His specialty was finding firearms and people.
A street corner drug deal was unfolding, and Brockton police Officers William Carpenter and Matthew Graham jumped into action. The officers knew the suspect well, from a prior cocaine arrest, and also knew him to be a dangerous criminal with a history of armed robberies and assaults.
The suspect fled, and Carpenter chased him for several blocks before forcing him to the ground. In the ensuing scuffle, the suspect pulled a gun from his waistband, pointed it at Carpenter’s head, and pulled the trigger. But the gun didn’t fire, and Carpenter and Graham were able to fatally shoot the suspect.
Yesterday morning in the House Chamber at the State House, Carpenter and Graham received the Trooper George L. Hanna Jr. Medal of Honor, the highest award bestowed at the 26th annual Hanna awards ceremony. Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray honored 27 police officers and one state trooper with awards ranging from Meritorious Recognition to the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery in the past year. The list included 15 Boston police officers, four Brockton officers, and two officers from Springfield and Revere.
Moments after receiving his award, Carpenter said, “When you’re faced with a situation such as that, your training kicks in, and you realize you are the last line of defense against someone who at that moment is extremely dangerous, so you have no other choice but to handle the situation.’’
Ten of the Boston police officers received the Meritorious Recognition group award for stopping a gang-related melee at a Theater District nightclub, where one suspect had been shooting randomly inside the crowded room.
Kevin M. Burke, secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, said during the ceremony, “Today the duties of police officers are greater than ever, and they put their lives on the line every day.’’
As Patrick placed a medal around Carpenter’s neck and handed him a plaque, the officer’s mother, Patricia Reilly, walked down the chamber’s aisle and snapped a picture of her son while he stood at attention.
“I’m so proud of what he’s accomplished,’’ Reilly said. “I was staying at his home when that happened. I didn’t sleep all night, and I cried for the next two days, thinking that my son could have been hurt. And this wasn’t the first time he’s gone through something like this.’’
Two years ago, Carpenter received an award from the Massachusetts Police Association after responding to a call of a man shooting into a crowd at a parking lot outside Progressions Lounge on Montello Street in Brockton. Carpenter and another officer shot the suspect, disarming him in the process.
In addition to the two Brockton officers, five other officers received the Medal of Honor, including Revere police Officer James R. Rose. On Feb. 25, 2008, Rose responded to a call in which a mother was being stabbed by her son. Rose and another officer, Lieutenant John M. Azzari, rushed to the dimly-lit basement where the incident was unfolding, and they were confronted by the knife-wielding son. When the suspect made an aggressive move toward the officers, Rose shot the suspect, causing him to fall. The officers subdued him, kicked the knife out of his reach, and ran to the aid of two children in the basement. The mother died of her stab wounds.
Azzari was awarded the Medal of Valor.
The awards are named for Trooper George L. Hanna Jr. who died in the line of duty. A 10-year veteran of the State Police, he was shot to death in 1983 during a motor vehicle stop in Auburn.
By Brian Ballou