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Hero cops save teen from burning building as other teen jumps

Two injured teens escaped from Malden house fire this morning, one with the help of cops who ran into the burning building and the other by jumping out a window, police said.

Around 9 a.m., police responded to 911 calls of a house fire on Burditt Terrace in Malden, where Officer Jack Delaney radioed that there was heavy smoke and the building was engulfed in flames, Lt. Marc Gatcomb said.

Delaney and another officer rushed inside, attempting to evacuate residents on the first floor apartment. One teenage girl had to be helped outside by officers. That girl suffered burns to her upper body and hair.



Patrick names first woman superintendent

The governor has appointed the first woman superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, picking a veteran officer with more than 30 years on the force.

Deputy Superintendent Marian J. McGovern will replace Colonel Mark Delaney, the governor’s office announced today.

“Throughout her broad career on the road, as a detective, at the crime lab, and supervising the Division of Standards and Training, she has demonstrated an unparalleled work ethic, exceptional leadership skills, integrity, tenacity, and compassion,” Patrick said in an email to State Police personnel.

“As the deputy superintendent she has shown her grasp of the complexity of the department. I am confident that she is ready to lead the State Police forward,” the governor said.

The governor also thanked Delaney for his 35 years of service, saying he had “maintained a standard of excellence, and I am confident that Deputy Superintendent McGovern will carry that mission to even greater heights in the future.”


State police trailblazer in K-9 training gets her due at Middleboro dedication ceremony

Growing up, Sean Barrett knew to look closely at the butcher-wrapped parcels in the refrigerator.

“If there was stuff in the refrigerator that said ‘Don’t eat,’ you didn’t eat it,” he said.

And for good reason.

With a state trooper mom who was on the cutting edge of canine searches in Massachusetts, he never quite knew what might be in those packets in the ‘fridge or boxes in the basement.

Sometimes it would be packets of blood. Sometimes it would be something else. Something, he said, you really didn’t want to know.

“Unless it was clearly labeled, I knew to stay away from it,” he said.

It was all part of life with Kathleen Barrett, the first female state police K-9 officer in Massachusetts and one of a handful in New England in the 1980s trained to find the dead.

Barrett died in 2006 at her son’s Middleboro home at age 53 after a long battle with breast cancer.

She will be remembered every time an officer trains at the new K-9 training center bearing her name at the Middleboro state police barracks. The center was dedicated Thursday.

“She was an inspiration,” said state Trooper Kathy Sampson, a K-9 officer.

Her cases ranged from the search for 13-year-old Melissa Benoit, the murdered Kingston girl found buried in a neighbor’s basement in 1990, to the 1989 search for suspected serial-killing victims in the New Bedford area.

Barrett also was among the K-9 officers who combed the rubble for bodies at the World Trade Center in New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

And she and her dog worked in devastated neighborhoods of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Barrett worked with three police dogs over the years: Syrus, Dan and Adam.

The Benoit case in Kingston gave her son the first inkling that his mother’s work was special when the television cameras focused on her and her police dog.

“Everybody else’s mother isn’t on TV,” he recalled Thursday.

Her work went beyond the high-profile cases, however, and she never sought headlines.

When a suspect bolted into the woods off Interstate 95 a number of years ago, Barrett and her dog were there searching.

Rick Brown, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, remembered hearing her voice on the radio that day.

“I got him. I got him,” he quoted her as saying.

“She was always the first one to arrive and the last one to leave,” he said.

Lt. Richard Rollins, commander of the state police K-9 section, said Barrett knew the importance of her work and never gave up.

Barrett was a state police officer for 26 years and in the K-9 unit for 21 of those.

She was, state police Col. Mark Delaney said, one of the top in the field.

Her sister, Madeline Wahlberg of Whitman, said she didn’t realize until recent years in how much esteem her sister was held and how much she had quietly accomplished as she rose through the ranks to sergeant.

What she did know was how much her older sister had taught her growing up, one of five children, including how to cook.

Barrett’s son said that as a child he would “get lost” in the woods so his mother — a single parent — and other state police K-9 handlers could track and find him, often near their then-Halifax home.

The house, he said, would always have dogs, once up to five.

Some were for work. Others had been abandoned, and Barrett would keep them as pets or retrain them for a new home.

“She would always take dogs in,” he said.

There was the dog, “Roadside,” she brought home when he was 9.

“She was on duty and she was driving by and saw a pillow case moving on the side of the road,” he recalled.

The dog was inside.

Barrett continued working after her cancer diagnosis, trudging through woods and swamps searching for suspects and missing children.

The doctors told her to stop. Her son told her to stop.

She kept going.

“What if it were your child who was missing?” she would ask.

Two weeks before her death, Barrett was still working, confined to a desk rather than in the field. When she died, she was surrounded by her family — her last police dog, a German shepherd named Adam, nearby.

A line of state police K-9 officers stood at attention Thursday as the Sgt. Kathleen M. Barrett K-9 Training Field was dedicated in her memory. Several troopers later demonstrated what the police dogs can do.

Her son was given some of the awards that Barrett had received over the years: master trainer of the year award, a state award from the National Association for Search and Rescue.

She was, he would later say simply, a great mom.


Springfield Kennel Club donates money to equip, train new police dog

RIP, Bojar.


The Springfield Kennel Club will provide the money to the Police Department to purchase and train a new  police dog to replace Bojar, a 7-year-old German Shepherd who died earlier this month of cancer.

Susan K. Cohen, director of public relations for the club, said she contacted the office of Commissioner William J. Fitchet with the offer, and had also spoken with officer George T. Flanagan, the handler for Bojar, who will receive the new dog.

“He was moved,” Cohen said Tuesday.

The cost of purchasing and training a new dog suitable for police work can be at least $5,000 and as high as $6,500, said Springfield Police Sgt. John M. Delaney, aide to Commissioner Fitchet

The department is most appreciative of the club’s generosity, he said.

Cohen said the offer is a natural fit for the club, which has worked closely with the police K-9 officers since the unit was formed.

Officers and their dogs regularly work with club members with training and demonstrations for the public. Club members were aquatinted with and fond of Bojar, who served with the Springfield police since 2002.

The kennel club supports police dogs as an example of properly trained working dogs, she said.

“They do things human officers can’t do,” she said.

In addition to purchasing a new dog, the Springfield Kennel Club is interested in starting a charitable fund where people can donate money that would aid the police in paying for costs associated with the dogs.

“It’s for the upkeep of the dogs,” she said. Police dogs, like all pets, require food, medicine, and veterinary care, she said.

“It’s a good chunk of change,” she said. “If people make the donations, that would be great.”

Delaney called the special fund a great idea.

He did not have the cost associated with the K-9 program at hand, but said money for care of the animals comes out of the department’s budget.

The Police Department has eight other K-9 teams. The dogs are in service daily to search for drugs, track criminals and aid in crowd control.

Delaney said it would likely take several weeks to find the right dog and have it properly trained for police work. The dog and Flanagan would have to spend some time together getting used to each other, he said.

This will be the second dog the club has helped purchase. In 2001, the club donated $3,800 toward the purchase of a German Shepherd named Hammer.

Cohen said the Springfield Kennel Club, which is affiliated with the American Kennel Club, is one of the oldest dog clubs in the country. For more information on the club, its Web page is www.springfieldkennelclub.org .

How to help
• Donations to the Springfield Kennel Club’s police K-9 fund may be made in care of Treasurer Dorothy C. Saletnik, Springfield Kennel Club, P.O. Box 637, Ludlow, Ma., 01056.


Boston cop, trooper awarded Medal of Honor

Massachusetts State Trooper Jimi Grasso and Boston Police Officer Stephen P. Romano at the Trooper George L. Hanna, Jr. 25th Annual Memorial Awards for Bravery Ceremony at the State House today

Massachusetts State Trooper Jimi Grasso and Boston Police Officer Stephen P. Romano at the Trooper George L. Hanna, Jr. 25th Annual Memorial Awards for Bravery Ceremony at the State House today

In his first public comments since being shot in the line of duty, Boston Police Detective Stephen P. Romano scooped up his two young daughters today and recalled how he nearly lost his life to a trigger-happy gangbanger.

That he survived after grappling with a convicted felon who was shooting at him was due entirely, he said, to the actions of his former partner, state Trooper Jimi Grasso, then assigned to the BPD gang unit.

“I owe my life to Trooper Grasso,” Romano, now with the fugitive unit, told the Herald after receiving the state’s highest law enforcement award, the George L. Hanna Medal of Honor. “I feel great. I’ve been back for a while. My partner saved my life that day.”

Grasso also received the medal of honor at the State House ceremony that awarded a total of 28 of the bravest in blue throughout the state.

“It was a tough experience,” said Grasso, now assigned to the state’s gang unit. “After the ordeal, Boston police treated me like one of the family.”

On that night in May 2007, Romano refused to release his grip on the suspect, Antonio Franklin, who was shooting at him. Grasso fired back, wounding the 22-year-old suspect in the side and arm and ending the assault. One of the bullets ricocheted off a bone in Franklin and bounced under Romano’s Kevlar vest into his chest.

Eleven of the honorees were Boston cops, including Sgt. Michael J. Linskey, who facilitated a peaceful ending to an armed standoff on March 8, 2007.

“He’s protected me from bullies my entire life, and now he’s protecting the community,” said BPD Superintendent Daniel P. Linskey of his brother.

Six Springfield cops and four state troopers received the medal of valor for a March 13, 2007, gun battle with a fugitive who continued to shoot at cops despite being mortally wounded. Officer David Askins was shot in the thigh.

State Police Col. Mark Delaney said the heroism of cops “demonstrates the type of situations officers find themselves in every day. A lot of these started with routine inquiries.”

Said Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, “It really is an amazing testament to the restraint officers in Boston use when confronted with the use of a firearm.”


SWAT Meets EMT Training in Springfield

The sound of gunfire is not one many would run towards, but for police officers and emergency responders, it is their job. But, fighting crime and taking down the bad guys is only step one. In many cases, there are innocent victims and even the suspects themselves who need medical attention, and that is what several officers from Western Mass. were training for this week.

“It gives the civilian and the downed officer the advantage of having the treatment faster than having the ambulance showing up. So, we’re already starting treatment, recognizing the adverse reactions of something that occurred, and we can correct them in the field prior to the ambulance getting there,” said Eric Stratton, a Hampden Co. Sheriff’s Dept. Tactical Team Medic.

Emergency responders from the State Police, Westover, Springfield, Ludlow, and American Medical Response teamed up for a week-long session at the Springfield Fire Training Center. They are learning Tactical Medical Response.

“This type of training is invaluable to save lives,” said Springfield Police spokesperson Sgt. John Delaney.

By practicing with real life scenarios, the officers are better able to respond to extreme situations where they might find people facing life-threatening injuries.

“What we’re looking to do is up their pulse rate and get the anxiety up so we can make sure that under these extreme conditions, they can still operate while they’re doing their police correctional work, and they’re expected to do certain medical skills,” Stratton said.

Even if that means trying to stabilize a patient while they’re under fire. The trainers said the small-scale training will help emergency crews handle large-scale catastrophes.

“This is only going to help the region… If a Columbine incident happened somewhere in Western Massachusetts, we’re going to have 15 officers here who are trained to respond to an incident like that to treat the wounded right on scene, which is going to save lives,” Delaney said.