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BUPD Honors Local Heroes

Awards ceremony recognizes courage and good deeds

In the early morning of March 16, 2007, the BU Police Department received a report of a four-alarm fire on St. Mary’s Street in Brookline. Sgt. Larry Cuzzi and Officer Peter McCarron rushed to the scene. As the officers approached, they could see smoke billowing over the trees, and when they turned the corner onto St. Mary’s Street, they saw that flames had engulfed the outside of the building. Witnesses in the small crowd gathered on the sidewalk warned the officers that people were trapped inside.

“I’ve been a police officer at BU for 10 years, and I haven’t encountered anything like that,” McCarron says. “When something like that happens, training kicks in and you just do what you have to do.”

Cuzzi, Bravo Sector supervisor, smashed the window of the locked front door with his baton and the officers rushed inside. They found one BU student in a second floor apartment and brought him outside, then ran back in to search the  third floor. There, a locked door prevented them from checking whether anyone was in the apartment, and they were forced to flee the intense heat of the spreading fire. As they exited the building, the Brookline Fire Department arrived, but firefighters also were unable to enter the locked apartment in time to save the life of  a Pennsylvania teenager who was visiting friends.

Eight months later, at the second annual BUPD Fall Awards Ceremony, Cuzzi and McCarron were each presented with a Medal of Valor, the second-highest honor given by the BUPD and the highest honor awarded this year.

“Had it not been for the quick and heroic actions of Sergeant Cuzzi and Officer McCarron,” says Sgt. Jack St. Hilaire, BUPD community police supervisor, “more lives would have been lost.”

The awards ceremony, held November 15 at the 10 Buick Street Student Atrium, honored police officers and members of the community who demonstrated acts of courage, commitment, dedication, and service to the Boston University community. Recipients were chosen by a committee made up of St. Hilaire, Daryl Deluca, an assistant dean in the Office of the Dean of Students, and David Zamojski, an assistant dean in the Office of the Dean of Students and director of residence life.

“The purpose of [the ceremony] is to recognize members of the department as well as members from other agencies for their superior performance,” says St. Hilaire, who organized the event along with Mary Winters, the administrative coordinator in the Office of the Chief of Police. “We recognize people within the community who contribute to community policing or contribute to the community itself.”

Officer Peter Giannopoulos of the Boston Police Department received a Medal of Valor for rescuing a BU alumna in danger of being assaulted by two men who stole her bike, and arresting one suspect. Giannopoulos also assisted the Massachusetts State Police in establishing a Special State Police Officers Academy at BU. 

The awards ceremony demonstrated that good deeds can come from anywhere — and anyone. Joseph Paul, a Building and Grounds employee, administered CPR to an unconscious BU employee in the George Sherman Union’s second-floor ballroom last November while Officers Thomas Gaffney and Matthew Quinlan were on their way to the scene. “He had no pulse and was not breathing.” St. Hilaire says. “He was, in reality, clinically dead.” When the officers arrived, Quinlan assisted Paul with CPR as Gaffney prepared the automated external defibrillator, administering five shocks before the employee began to breathe. By the time paramedics arrived, the victim had regained a pulse and is expected to make a full recovery. The three men received the Life-Saving Award “in recognition of their quick, decisive, and exemplary conduct as well as their high degree of competence.”

BUPD Officer Kevin Reen, who received the Community Policing Officer of the Year award, worked to make BU a Heartsafe Community, a designation coined by the Office of Emergency Medical Services of Massachusetts and the American Heart Association. Reen also served on the planning committee for the opening ceremony of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, an international grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness tool.

Awards of Distinguished Service were presented to Debra Piehl of the Massachusetts State Police and Officer Peter Shin of the BUPD for contributing to a more effective and efficient police department.

Twenty-three Commendation Awards to recognize exemplary conduct or long-term excellence in service to the BUPD were presented to:

Officer William Campanella, BUPD
Sgt. Robert Casey, BUPD
Mark Coffey, public safety supervisor of the BU Medical Campus Office of General Services
Sgt. Larry Cuzzi, Bravo Sector supervisor, two Commendation Awards
Officer Paul Devlin, BUPD
Perry Forgione, security manager of the Boston Medical Center Office of Public Safety
Sgt. Taso Giannopoulos, Charlie Sector supervisor, BUPD
William Gibbons, public safety operations manager of the BU Medical Campus Office of General Services
Project Manager John Mahoney, BUPD, two Commendation Awards
Officer David O’Brien, BU Medical Campus Department of Public Safety
Officer Michael O’Donovan, BUPD
Detective Christopher O’Shea, BUPD
Officer Kevin Reen, BUPD
Officer Scott Rocheville, BUPD
Officer Joseph Sirignano, BUPD
Officer Kevin St. Ives, BUPD
Officer Jack Struble, BUPD
Sgt. Philip Terrenzi, harbormaster of the Boston Harbor Patrol
Officer Jacob Verge, BUPD
Public Safety Officer Christopher Walton, BU Medical Campus Department of Public Safety
Officer Chris Zengo, BUPD

Nine Citizen Commendation Awards were awarded to members of the BU and Boston communities who have helped the BUPD in some way. Recipients are:

Pam Beale, president of the Kenmore Association
Christopher Burgess, assistant manager of the Media Group
Terrence Guiney, principal and managing director of the Hotel Commonwealth
Beth Krudys, manager of Fenway affairs for the Boston Red Sox
Raymond Levy, manager of BU’s Emergency Medical Services
Maureen Mahoney, crisis intervention counselor at Student Health Services
Kathleen Morley, administrative coordinator for technical operations at the Media Group
James Stone, director of consulting services at the Office of Information Technology
Alan Weinberger, assistant director and facilities manager, athletics

Rebecca McNamara can be reached at ramc@bu.edu.