EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 9, 2013

Union: City balks at honoring officers

Says disciplined cops, mayor's election foe deserve praise for rescue

HAVERHILL — The police union wants several officers and firefighters publicly recognized for saving the life of a car accident victim.

The group includes an officer recently suspended and demoted, the head of the patrolmen’s union who’s up for suspension for an incident that led to a man’s death, and the firefighter who ran unsuccessfully against Mayor James Fiorentini in last week’s election.

Police Chief Alan DeNaro said he has no plans “at this time” to publicly recognize the officers and firefighters — something he has been doing somewhat regularly at City Council meetings for officers whose actions potentially saved a life or went beyond the normal performance of their duties, such as responding to an emergency while off duty.

As public safety commissioner, DeNaro also oversees both the police and fire departments.

According to the patrolmen’s union, the actions of off-duty officer Harry Miller and several other police officers and firefighters saved the life of a car accident victim. The man, trapped in his car, was discovered by Miller off West Lowell Avenue while he was driving home from a midnight police shift on Sept. 15.

“Officer Harry Miller had just completed his shift and was driving home when he came upon a single motor vehicle that ran off the roadway and crashed into a tree,” reads a letter from officer Rick Welch, president of the patrolman’s union. He sent the letter to the mayor, DeNaro and city councilors.

“The single occupant was severely injured and trapped inside this heavily damaged vehicle,” Welch’s letter said. “Neither the police nor fire departments had received any report of this crash, nor was it known how long the operator had been trapped in the vehicle.”

Welch, who was also among the rescue team that responded to the crash, credited Miller and the quick action of several firefighters in extracting the victim, Zackary Rivers of Haverhill, from his mangled 2004 Nissan Sentra.

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