Essex County Sheriff’s Staff Receive Honors for Lifesaving and Risking Their Own Lives

Hampden County Sheriff and Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association President Nicholas Cocchi, Department of Correction Commissioner Carol Mici, and Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy pause for a moment of prayer during the 26th Annual Correctional Employees of the Year Award Ceremony at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. (Photograph courtesy of Jay Dias and the Massachusetts Department of Correction.)

Members of the Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger’s office were among those honored during the 26th Annual Correctional Employee of the Year Awards ceremony this week in Worcester.

“Our Administration appreciates the vital experience, dedication and tenacity that county and state correctional teams bring to every shift. I wish to congratulate this year’s honorees for their exemplary service,” Gov. Maura Healey said. “Whether it’s their first day on the job or decades into their public service, we thank the dedicated professionals in the field of corrections for all that they do.”

Honored with Meritorious Recognition for the lifesaving rescue of an inmate with breathing problems were Essex County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Director of Security Jonathan Campbell, Sgts. Brett Feldman and Christopher Walsh, Deputy Sheriff David D’Amico, Registered Nurse Jonathan Wilson and Licensed Professional Nurse Tatiana Bruno.

The incident took place in June 2022 when D’Amico heard an inmate banging on his cell door because of a medical emergency. D’Amico and Feldman entered the cell to find a man non-responsive and struggling to breath. Feldman relayed information over the radio and received assistance from Campbell, Walsh, Officer Dennis Castro, Wilson and Bruno.

Officer Jose Arroyo was recognized for protecting his next-door neighbor who screamed for help as Arroyo was arriving home after working third shift. The woman ran towards Arroyo “appearing severely battered and said that her boyfriend assaulted and threatened to kill her.” Arroyo saw a man approaching from behind the woman and quickly led her into his house to prevent further violence. Police later charged the man with two counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, armed assault in a dwelling and intimidation of a witness.

Sgts, Peter Waldman and Louis Potvin, Officers Ethan Champeau, Max Munyanya, George Dekeon and William Panzini were recognized for actions breaking up an inmate fight last October, where they were outnumbered and facing several combatants who were armed with home-made weapons called, “shanks.” They are credited with using their training to protect the lives of those living and working within the unit, seize the dangerous weapons and regain control.

Meritorious Recognition recognizes an employee who acted beyond the requirements of their position.

For actions during the same fight, the Medal of Valor was presented to K-9 Deputy Sheriff Kyle D. Kidger and, posthumously, to his partner, K-9 Django. Kidger and K-9 Django entered the unit and K-9 Django became the target of an aggressive inmate who squared up in a fighting stance with a homemade weapon in his hand. Ultimately, K-9 Django contained the inmate while Kidger pinned him down and was able to get the weapon. K-9 Django passed away unexpectedly due to a repository infection shortly thereafter.

The Medal of Valor, the second highest honor, recognizes employees who put themselves at risk of injury to protect others.

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