Great Barrington — Several Great Barrington and South County police officers were recognized at a ceremony in the Mason Library Tuesday (Sept. 12) for their bravery and commitment to public safety.
In February, Great Barrington Police Officers Jonathan Finnerty and Jason LaForest, along with Stockbridge Police Officer Donald Hopkins, responded to a domestic incident in which the alleged aggressor was intoxicated and threatening violence against the officers.
Following a 40-minute effort to get the suspect to come down from a perch where he had positioned himself, armed with an ax that he later threw at them, the officers were able to successfully take him into custody without further incident. As a result of their efforts, all three were awarded the Great Barrington Police Department’s Medal of Valor.
Also honored at the ceremony were Sgt. Adam Carlotto, Officer Samuel Stolzar, Massachusetts State Trooper Brian Clay and Firefighter Richard Aloisi, all of whom risked their own safety last December by entering a burning Dresser Avenue home multiple times in an effort to rescue a 76-year-old bedridden resident who was trapped inside.
Firefighters had responded for a report of a kitchen stove fire at the two-story, wood frame, single-family home, but before the trio of first responders happened to be in the neighborhood and performed the heroic act.
Heavy smoke and flames engulfed the first floor of the home, extending to the second floor. The men rescued the occupant by pulling him out of the house through a first-floor window. The victim was then transported by Southern Berkshire Ambulance to Fairview Hospital. He had non-life-threatening injuries.
For their work, the Great Barrington officers and the trooper were awarded the police department’s Medal of Valor, while firefighter Aloisi was awarded the department’s letter of appreciation. The four were also honored at a ceremony in Boston in May.
“Each of these individuals earned these honors by going above and beyond the call of duty and put their lives own lives at risk while helping to protect the lives of members of the public,” Great Barrington Police Chief Bill Walsh said. “They all displayed tremendous courage and commitment to protecting their community, and I am proud of them all.”
Recently-retired reserve officer Richard Congdon was also recognized for his 18 years of service to the town.
“Officer Congdon was a valuable member of the department and an incredibly competent officer who will be missed,” Chief Walsh said.
The Great Barrington Police Department also awarded three citizens with certificates of appreciation for their support of the department:
Sandra Lopez; Jane Iredale, president and CEO of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics; and Southern Berkshire Emergency Medical Services and its president, James Santos.