Valley Patriot of the Month – Hero in Our Midst: Amesbury Police Officer Jason Kooken

From left to right: Groveland Selectman Joe D’Amore, recipient of the 2013 Editor’s Choice Award, Lawrence Firefighter Juan “Manny” Gonzalez, and Amesbury Police Officer Jason Kooken, both recipients of the 2014 Valley Patriot-Officer Tom Duggan Law Enforcement Award with Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan, Jr.

By: Justess Jacobson – April, 2014

Last month The Valley Patriot awarded Amesbury Police Officer Jason Kooken with The Valley Patriot, Officer Tom Duggan Sr. Law Enforcement Award. Officer Duggan’s granddaughter did the presentation to Officer Kooken.

Every year, Jason Kooken bicycle rides his way down to Washington, DC to the National Law Enforcement Memorial to raise money for children of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty.

Jason’s work ethic and morals show that my grandfather, Officer Tom Duggan, still lives in him everyday.

Thomas Duggan, the National Law Enforcement Memorial
Thomas Duggan, the National Law Enforcement Memorial

In 2010, when my father, Tom Duggan, Jr. read the names of Massachusetts police officers who were killed in the line of duty at the Police Memorial in front of President Obama’s Cabinet and 25,000 law enforcement officers from all over the country … Officer Jason Kooken was there and wearing a bracelet bearing the name of Lawrence Police Officer Tom Duggan, Sr on his wrist because he had just biked from New England to Washington DC in my grandfather’s name as he had done previous years.

When the ceremony was over, Jason and my dad met by chance at the memorial wall where my grandfather’s name is etched in stone forever.

Amesbury Police Officer Jason Kooken at the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Wall in Washington DC in 2010
Amesbury Police Officer Jason Kooken at the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Wall in Washington DC in 2010

As Officer Kooken was touching the name of Tom Duggan Sr., on Panel 36W of the National Police Memorial he and my dad stood side by side in awe not having ever met.

As they both stood there silently remembering the tragedy that lead to the murder of Officer Duggan, Jason Kooken recognized my dad and introduced himself.

When my father admitted he was in fact the son of Officer Duggan, Kooken took the bracelet bearing Officer Duggan’s name off his wrist and handed it to him right at the memorial wall in front of my grandfather’s name.

My dad cries every time he tells this story and that’s why he was unable to tell this story here tonight.

As time went by, our family came to learn that Jason Kooken also organizes fundraisers for children whose parents were killed in the line of duty.

He runs events for widows and disabled officers through Law Enforcement United, and then puts on a uniform and goes back to work protecting the public as an Amesbury Police Office Officer.

If anyone deserves an award named the Tom Duggan, Sr., Law Enforcement Award, it should go to the man who, not having met anyone in our family, not having ever met Tom Duggan, Sr., yet honors him every year with his rides to Washington, DC in his name.

Jason Kookan is the true definition of a hero police officer, a hero military man; and Amesbury Police Chief Ouellet … we want YOU to know that the Amesbury Police Department is very lucky to have him on the force.

Justess JacobsonJustess Jacobson is the granddaughter of slain Lawrence Police Officer Tom Duggan. She is a college student at Hesser College and lives in Manchester NH.