Home » Posts tagged 'labonia'
Tag Archives: labonia
Leonard LaBonia’s grandfather was a Connecticut state trooper in the 1950s, and the 36-year-old father of three can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to be a police officer.
So after nearly 13 years on the job in Danbury, this is just part of what LaBonia has done:
He’s saved two people, one who was choking on food at a restaurant and the second who was threatening suicide by holding a knife to his own throat.
He’s earned two Medals of Bravery, the first for capturing the gunman from a shooting outside a Mill Plain Road restaurant in 1997 and the other for helping rescue people from a burning building after an explosion on Wildman Street a year later.
He’s been the recipient of several departmental citations and awards, and enough letters of commendation and appreciation to stock a small post office.
On May 7, LaBonia will add the Police Officer of the Year award from the Danbury Exchange Club to the list.
“It’s an honor,” said LaBonia, who lives in Southbury with his wife, Tanya, and their children, twin daughters Isabella and Natalie and son Robert. “It feels good to be recognized.”
“We believe is important to honor our police and firefighters, especially since 9/11,” said Joe DaSilva, chairman of the Exchange Club dinner.
LaBonia will also be recognized along with other police officers from across Connecticut at a dinner hosted by the statewide Exchange Club at the Aqua Turf in Southington later next month, DaSilva said.LaBonia grew up in North Haven and “had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into” when he joined the Danbury department in May 1996.
The people he’s worked with also have a pretty good idea of what to expect from LaBonia, Capt. Thomas Wendel said.
“He’s an intelligent, hardworking, compassionate officer who has risen to every challenge presented in modern law enforcement,” Wendel said.
In addition to serving on the crime scene unit and as an evidence technician, LaBonia has been a member of the Bike Patrol, teaches at the Citizen’s Police Academy, and is a volunteer liaison to the Homeless Youth Coalition of Danbury, among other jobs.
He’s also been a guest speaker at Western Connecticut State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in criminal justice.
LaBonia’s most recent lifesaving incident, which also earned him a Real Heroes Award from the Red Cross, occurred at Jim Barberie’s Restaurant on Padanaram Road in June 2007.
A patron was choking on a piece of lobster, and LaBonia, who was on patrol about a mile away, was the first emergency responder on the scene.
The man was too big for the Heimlich maneuver and was seconds from death when LaBonia donned a rubber glove and, after two failed attempts, managed to dislodge the food and save his life.
“It’s an indescribable feeling to be able to help save someone and give them a second chance,” LaBonia said. “That’s a lot of what this job is. It’s not just going out and arresting the bad guys.”
The May 7 dinner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Anthony’s Lake Club. Tickets are $25 and can be obtained by calling DaSilva at (203)744-4136.
Contact John Pirro