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Multiple officers thanked for their work

STONINGTON — Stonington police commissioners were presented with copies of correspondence thanking members of the department, and in one case a member of a neighboring department, for their professionalism.

Each of the police officers had, according to those who had taken the time to contact the Stonington police department, displayed exemplary courtesy or provided “outstanding assistance and compassion.”

When a pit bull was attacking a woman on Jan. 12 at the Residence Inn in Mystic, Chief Darren Stewart notes Officer Matthew Capalbo “with complete disregard for his own safety and with himself being attacked,” was able to get the animal away from the victim to get her the medical aid she required. Capalbo was reportedly told upon entering the Residence Inn that a large pit bull had severely attacked a guest on the second floor

The officer, according to reports about the incident, went to the area alone where he encountered the dog’s owner holding the dogs “screaming to Capalbo that she was the owner and she could not control the dog much longer.” Police also said she reported the dog had attacked her friend who was badly injured. The officer reported there was another person screaming for help.

As the dog growled at Capalbo, the dog’s owner allegedly screamed for him to shoot the dog. Capalbo later said he felt he could not shoot the dog without endangering the owner and was concerned the woman who had been attacked was in immediate danger.

Capalbo said he was able to calm the dog briefly and extend his hand toward him. The dog, out of the woman’s control, lunged at the officer at which point he said he struck the dog. Capalbo said he was attacked by the animal twice, but was able to get the dog away from his arm and grab the fur behind his head. At that point, Capalbo said he was forced to shoot the animal, which he then trapped in a stairwell.

When other officers arrived, wrote Sgt. Michael Peckham, Capalbo ignored his own injuries and returned to the injured woman. He suffered minor injuries that required medical attention.

“Officer Capalbo risked his own safety, knowing that he could have been seriously injured, for the life of another person. Officer Capalbo’s personal courage and professional courage competence were directly responsible for the overall successful outcome for the timely treatment of the victim,” said Peckham, in a recommendation to the Stonington Police Department Awards Committee recommending the officer receive a lifesaving medal.

Peckham is also recommending a medal be awarded to a Westerly police officer and his K-9 partner and has sent a letter of appreciation to their boss, Chief Edward W. St. Clair. Timothy Manfredi and his K-9 partner Sipko are credited with helping Stonington police find a 91-year-old woman suffering from dementia who was reported missing on a cold March 1. She had been missing for more than 90 minutes in 20-degree weather when calls were made to police.

Manfredi and his partner were able to locate the woman in a wooded area about 100 yards off a main road where she was on her knees unable to get to her feet. Reports indicate she had knee pain, her clothing was wet and she was shivering from the cold. The woman refused medical treatment and was reunited with her family.

Sgt. Keith Beebe and Officer Ryan Rathgaber were thanked for their quick response to a 911 call in January when the writer’s father became gravely ill and 911 was called. The woman thanked a Stonington dispatcher who remained on the phone with her as the officer rushed to the home. She said EMTs did all they could to save her dad, but were unsuccessful and the officers stayed with the grieving family long after as they dealt with the aftermath of their loved one’s death. The pair were described as a “truly great asset to the town of Stonington.”

Officer Kristy Rebello was also recognized for her actions on March 6 when a resident observed her on Cottrell Street leaving her cruiser to assist a group of about 50 ducks cross the street, “rather than use her horn to move them along.”

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