Police Officers, Firefighters and EMTs of the Year (Lawrence, Andover, North Andover)


The Lawrence Exchange Club held their annual Police, Firefighter and EMT of the Year awards last month honoring first responders in the valley. Police and Fire Chiefs from Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were allowed to present each honoree with a plaque and explain to the public why each officer was being honored.


Nominated by Fire Chief Andrew Melnikas

McCarthy“For decades a multitude of reports outlining our nation’s fire problems have been published.

One of the common threads of these reports is to place more emphasis on fire education and fire prevention; often times even in today’s society there are fire departments that can find their roles of putting out fires and saving victims. Yet, even today there are still old timers who say ‘eh, you just put water on it that’s all you have to do. Luckily those are people are retiring.

In the quest to reduce the destructive toll that our fires take in lives, injuries and property losses, this mentality is not good enough. Thousands of people annually suffer injuries as the result of fires in the home. Fires and burns are the leading cause of deaths in children aged 14 and under. Fire departments need to expend more efforts and resources in educating society in these dangers. Fire departments need to educate children and adults, and in fact they have an obligation to bring fire safety education, not only to the schools but private homes as well.

The North Andover fire Department has been at the forefront when it comes to fire safety education.

Our programs under direction of Lt. William McCarthy have been delivering the messages of fire safety for the better part of 20 years. Over that time frame his teachings have influenced the lives of thousands of school aged children and senior citizens.


Lt. McCarthy’s teachings cover topics such as smoke detectors, match and lighter safety, a family escape plan, and electrical safety. Perhaps some of you in attendance here tonight remember you children coming home from school excited about having had a visit from the Fire Department that day and being asked by them about a fire escape plan and fire safety.

In a perfect world these students will be the next generation of parents whose students will ask them about the very same fire safety topics. There’s an old saying: “the proof is in the pudding”

A number of years ago a young child was able to lead his grandparent out of a burning home and when that child is asked ‘how did you learn that?’ they would say I learned from the fire department. That one save makes the efforts and teachings of Lt. William McCarthy an invaluable part of the North Andover Fire department.

It’s for these reasons that Lt. McCarthy is our nomination for this year’s firefighter of the year.”


Nominated by Police Chief John Romero

LAWCOP-ColantouniBill Colantuoni is a detective in the Lawrence Police Department. For the last 13 years he has spent his entire career investigating and solving violent crimes committed in this city. While Detective Colantuoni has to deal with these challenges, through his skill and tenacity he has distinguished himself within his profession. I would like to mention just a couple of cases he had recently been involved in.

On December 19, 2012 Detective Colantuoni responded with other detectives to an armed robbery at Sullivan Park. They encountered a male stabbed in the head. They came to the aid of the man who had been robbed by two males. The victim could only give a general description of the assailants. However, Detective Colantuoni knowing the area matched the description with someone he was familiar with and as a result that individual was positively identified by the victim and charged with armed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

On January 18, 2012 at approximately 6:15 PM Detective Colantuoni and other detectives were driving an unmarked cruiser near Tenny and Arlington streets when they heard gunshots. They exited their vehicle and located two men running out of the Arlington School playground towards the detectives. As more shots rang out, they quickly determined the men running towards them were not the shooter but being shot at by the suspect still on the playground.

ColantouniDetective Colantuoni began a chase on foot. Detective Colantuoni maintained visual contact with the suspect and advised others units who could intercept the suspect a couple of blocks away. The suspect Richard Torres was taken into custody at gun point by Detective Jamie Brito, Detective Jay Heggarty and Detective Colantuoni .

Officers searched the area and recovered a firearm along the path where Detective Colantuoni chased the suspect. His actions lead to the arrest and conviction of a drug dealer with several new weapons charges.

On September 10, 2012, Detective Colantuoni was assigned to investigate an armed home invasion that had occurred at 899 Essex Street. During this home invasion two suspects armed with hand guns tackled a 23 year old male resident outside his door. They pointed guns at him, dragged him inside his apartment, threw him on the floor, pistol whipped him and tied him up with electric wire. The victim’s step son was also present and he too was tied up.


The suspects stole a safe that contained $10,000 and a 9MM handgun. The suspects also left behind one of their cell phones while fleeing. Detective Colantuoni secured a search warrant for the phone which was a pay by the minute phone, making it nearly impossible to trace. With the search warrant for the phone he was able to examine images on the phone that included individuals and houses in the background.

Detective Colantuoni was able to recognize what appeared to be a Methuen public housing unit with a male individual in the foreground. He developed further information with other detectives who recognized the individuals from their involvement in a previous drug distribution case.

A photo array of the suspect was shown to the home invasion victim who identified the man as Franklin Salsedo. Shortly thereafter Salsedo was arrested and charged with numerous felonies related to the Essex Street home invasion. In my 40+ years of policing I have had the privilege of working with many fine Detectives. None better than Bill Colantuoni. Therefore it is a privilege to award the 2013 Officer of the Year to Detective Colantuoni.


Nominated by North Andover Police Chief Gallagher

NAPOLICE-2I look forward to receiving a letter from the Exchange Club each December. It gives some time for me and the command staff to reflect on all the accomplishments the officers in the department make during the year.

The Police officers from North Andover that I and the command staff of North Andover have nominated this evening are to be noted for their fast intervention for the apprehension of a suspect who committed a bank robbery, Officer William Lynch and Detective Robert Barter.

Officer Lynch is a 30 year veteran and comes from a family tradition of Law Enforcement. His father Robert Lynch retired from the North Andover Police Department, was a division commander, was a highly regarded and well respected officer. We enjoyed having him with the department.

Detective Barter came to us from the Marine Corps. He has done a lot with defensive tactics and firearms. He is a seven year veteran of the department and is assigned to detectives and is a past recipient of the Officer of the Year.

On June 19th this past year, in the afternoon, a North Andover bank was robbed on Route 114 near Merrimack College. The initial description had the suspect vehicle heading to the North Andover Mall heading onto Route 495. Our responding cruisers headed in that direction. Unbeknownst to us, the vehicle had turned on to Rt. 125 onto the roads. Officer Lynch observed this vehicle and radioed everything in to us at the communication center, and initiated a pursuit. Detective Barter backed up Officer Lynch. The officers continually updated our communication center of the location, speed and conditions pursuant to our policies and procedures.

NAcopGallagher2Our highest priority was the safety for the public. Other agencies assisted by blocking traffic at intersections and exits along Route 125, Route 495 and then on to Route 95 along the New Hampshire border.

State and local departments continued to assist us and deployed stop sticks; which is a device that deflates the tires. They did this on the highway and they did disable the suspects’ vehicle and it went into the median strip. He exited his car and started running, and resisted his arrest.

After a short time he was tasered and surrendered to us. The pursuit lasted 25 minutes and over 20 miles. There were no injuries or accidents. All the stolen money was recovered. The suspect who was arrested that day was a serial bank robber in numerous states and he had just been incarcerated for quite a few years and had just recently been released.

He is now in state prison for the North Andover robbery and he plead guilty without going to trial due to the hard work of those two officers presenting their case to the District Attorney’s office. I am proud as Chief of Police to present our officers of the year Officer William Lynch and Detective Robert Barter.



Nominated by Andover Fire Chief Michael Mansfield.

“Most in public safety do not want to be recognized for the work that they do, especially when the work performed is extraordinary and has a profound effect on people’s lives. It’s events like these that have been brought forward to you tonight that allow the general public an opportunity to see through different media outlets the work that these men and women do each and every day.

The event that occurred on November 18, 2012 at 23:38 hours, where the Andover public safety communication center received a 911 telephone call with a report of a building fire at 8 Crescent Drive. The caller on the phone stated that she thought the fire was in apartment one which was on the first floor of a 3 story multi-unit occupancy.

While Andover Fire Rescue responders arrived at the scene the communications dispatch 911 phones began to ring with multiple calls reporting smoke in the hallways of the building. At 23:51 hours Deputy Chief Connors who was the incident commander at the time, arrived on scene and reported smoke showing from the complex.

Within one minute of arrival Deputy Connors also had performed a size up of the building, identified that there was a fire in apartment one, as had been reported by the 911 telephone calls, and that there were people trapped in the upper floors of the building.

In addition, an occupant was seen standing on a balcony being enveloped in thick black smoke that began to consume the entire building. Upon arrival of the first apparatus, which was Engine 2, Lieutenant Karl Murphy, Firefighter Todd Richardson and Firefighter John Gangi, under direction of Deputy Connors estimated what size ground ladder they were going to need.

They began to not only enter the building, but Firefighter Gangi and Murphy also went to look for the occupant that was in and around the balcony at the time. Richardson returned to Engine 2 to grab the ladder and deploy the ladder to that balcony. At which time the occupant appeared; Firefighter Richardson told the occupant not to move and not to go back into the building. Firefighters Murphy and Gangi were then able to grab her and hand her over to Richardson and another firefighter.

While the balcony rescue was taking place; there was another rescue also taking place by an additional crew inside the smoke filled building; where they were performing systematic searches of each apartment on each floor.

The second rescue was performed by the Ambulance 1 crew where they located a trapped elderly woman who could not get out of the building due to the conditions. Firefighter EMT Christopher Laverty and Firefighter EMT Kevin Farragher notified the incident commander that they located another woman on an upper floor and that they would have to physically remove her from the building to safety.

The ambulance crew was able to convince the woman to go with them even though the smoke was becoming thicker and thicker and there was zero visibility in the building. They were able to get to her and assist her to safety. Once the woman was to safe, Firefighter Farragher went and assisted the Engine 2 crew to assist the other woman.

While these two rescues were ongoing additional Andover Fire and Rescue crews were completed their assigned duties that included additional searches of all the apartments , hallways and balconies; as well as stretching hose lines into the building in place to extinguish the fire in apartment one. If not for the quick action and teamwork of all Andover personnel who responded to this incident and under the direct command of Deputy Chief Connors, this incident could have been a tragedy as many of other fires have recently.

For the last 30 days, for those of you who don’t know there has been 8 fire related deaths in the Commonwealth many with similar occupancies that the crews responded to on November 18, 2012.

With extra ordinary efforts in meeting the mission of Andover Fire Rescue which is “To save lives, property and protect the environment” I would like to congratulate and present to you Lieutenant Karl Murphy, Firefighter Todd Richardson, Firefighter John Gangi , Firefighter EMT Christopher Laverty, Firefighter EMT Kevin Farragher as Andover Fire Rescue’s and The Exchange Club’s 2012 Firefighters of The Year.

Evan Robitaille and Benjamin Ledwell

Nominated by Andover Police Chief Brian Pattullo.

ANDOVERCOPS-201At that time field training Officer Robitaille and his trainee Officer Ledwell (recently out of the academy) where heading back to the station to file a report on a previous incident they had finished. Communication Center had dispatched Officer Murry to a medical call but Robitaille and Ledwell were on Essex St which is extremely close to where the call was. They immediately informed dispatch of their location and headed to the call because they were the closest vehicle. When Officers Robitaille and Ledwell arrived at the scene they found a man in a chair with his head hanging back, his skin was blue and he was sweating. They immediately assessed the situation of the patient and moved him to the floor. They found him unresponsive and not breathing and could not find a pulse. They attached their department issued AED and began CPR. At that time Officers Murray and Cataldo arrived at the scene and assisted them.

Officers Robitaille and Ledwell did a series of 5 chest compressions with assisted breaths. They also revised the shock patient twice per the AED instructions; a third shock was not advised. That is when the Andover Fire Department took over the care of the patient. The patient was moved to the ambulance and brought to Lawrence General Hospital. Paramedics were taking care of the patient and the Officers were informed that the patient did in fact have a pulse. This is a perfect example of teamwork between all our public safety personnel. Officers Robitaille and Ledwell went to work as soon as they arrived on the scene and performed a flawless set of CPR which brought the patient back. Sergeant Moore who is their training coordinator informed me the data card showed that the second shock had actual initiated the patient’s pulse to return. For their actions on that day the Andover Police Department would like to recognize Office Robitaille and Officer Ledwell as The Exchange Officers of The Year.



 Nominated by Lawrence Fire Chief Jack Bergeron.

As a firefighter in Lawrence I can testify that Lawrence Firefighters really feel most comfortable, most suited and best equipped for extinguishing a fire in a three tenement house. We know the layout, we know what to expect and we know how to get it done. (Most of the time) However, Emergency Medical calls are the #1 response for the Lawrence Fire Dept. In 2012, we responded to over 2,000 EMS calls.

For the majority of those EMS calls we arrived on scene either shortly after or about the same time as Patriot Ambulance and the crews from LGH paramedics. There were a couple reasons why this happened, the primary reason is the way 911 calls for emergency medical are processed and the other reason is that it physically takes a bit longer to get the fire crew out the door and move down the road with that big red truck. When we do get on the scene we do provide whatever assistance the EMT’s or Paramedics need. So when Lawrence Firefighters do arrive and there is no one else there it is unusual.

On the morning of January 17, 2012 at 4:48 am, Engine 5 manned by Lieutenant Edward Nutter, Firefighters Miguel Baez, Christopher King, Steve Poley and Raymond Kenyon III responded from the central fire station to 13 Bradford St 1st Floor for a report of a person having a seizure. Arriving on the scene before Patriot Ambulance and LGH paramedics, the crew from Engine 5 found a female unconscious and unresponsive.

They checked for breathing and she was not breathing. They opened her airway and initiated rescue breathing. They checked for a pulse and after finding no pulse they began chest compressions and attached the AED to the patient. As they continued they received a three no shock advice from the AED and continued CPR. A period of 4-5 minutes passed before the ambulance and paramedics arrived on the scene. At that time care was transferred to the Paramedics. Engine 5 crew assisted in getting the patient into the ambulance and drove the paramedic’s vehicle to LGH. On the following day Engines 5 crew was informed that their actions and performance on the previous morning helped the patient to survive a heart attack.

Six months later on July 12, 2012 at 11:52 am, Engine 5 once again manned by Lieutenant Edward Nutter, Firefighters Miguel Biaz and Steve Polly responded to an Emergency Medical report of a person having a seizure and reported to 232 Hampshire St. On their arrival they found an adult male not breathing and with no pulse, Lieutenant Nutter and Firefighter Baez began CPR as Firefighter Poley readied the AED.

After the AED analyzed the person one shock was administered and the crew continued CPR. They continued CPR until the ambulance arrived, then assisted getting the patient into the ambulance, once in the ambulance one more shock was given to the patient and it was after that shock the person began to breathe on his own. The crew continued to assist EMT’s and paramedics in getting the patient safely to LGH.

I am proud to honor Lieutenant Edward Nutter, Firefighter Miguel Baez, Firefighter Steve Poley, Firefighter Raymond Kenyon III and Firefighter Christopher King for their performance for saving the lives of these individuals.


Transcribed by Stephanie Petrow