Cavanaugh is Glastonbury's Officer of the Year

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Feb. 7, 2014
Glastonbury Police Chief David Caron (left) presents Officer Neal Cavanaugh with the 2013 Police Officer of the Year Award, at a banquet presented by the Glastonbury Exchange Club on Feb. 6. Photos by Steve Smith.
Glastonbury Police Chief David Caron (left) presents Officer Neal Cavanaugh with the 2013 Police Officer of the Year Award, at a banquet presented by the Glastonbury Exchange Club on Feb. 6. Photos by Steve Smith.

Officer Neal Cavanaugh was honored as the Glastonbury Police Officer of the Year at a banquet hosted by the Exchange Club of Glastonbury at the Gallery on Feb. 6. According to information from the Glastonbury Police Department, Cavanaugh is highly motivated and has been involved in several high-profile cases.

In 2013, Cavanaugh made 25 criminal arrests and 28 motor vehicle arrests. In that year, he also issued 111 infractions, 135 written warnings and more than 170 verbal warnings. He also made 10 DUI arrests. 

Last October, Cavanaugh initiated a motor vehicle stop for a simple equipment violation. During the routine discussion with the driver, he learned that the operator of the motor vehicle was driving on a suspended license. Cavanaugh also detected an odor coming from the vehicle that was found to be marijuana. While placing the operator under arrest, a large amount of marijuana and cocaine that was packaged for distribution and future sale was also discovered in the vehicle and recovered.

Also in October, Cavanaugh stopped at a Main Street business on his way to work for the midnight shift, where he encountered an individual who was committing a larceny of more than $100 in merchandise. As the suspect left the store, Cavanaugh instructed the clerk to call the police, then chased the perpetrator on foot and took the suspect into custody. The suspect was also found to have several items of drug-related paraphernalia on his person when Cavanaugh made the larceny arrest.

“I love my job,” Cavanaugh said. “I love going to work every night, I love what I do, and the people I work with. I couldn't be here tonight without the people I work with. I thank everyone who, over the years, has helped me get to where I am now. I couldn't have done this on my own. It's more of a group effort.”

Exchange Club President Larry Fleming said it was the 30th annual Officer of the Year banquet, and that Cavanaugh represents the crème de la crème of the GPD.

Town Manager Richard Johnson said he did some research and discovered that Cavanaugh is now the record-holder, having become Officer of the Year in the shortest time since he began his tenure at the GPD. Cavanaugh was hired on Feb. 14, 2011. “Certainly, among 30 officers, very distinguished company of retirees, employees and current members, that's a very good record,” Johnson said.

Cavanaugh was presented with a proclamation from the Connecticut State Legislature and a letter from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. He also received a proclamation from the Glastonbury Town Council, which was presented by his uncle, Town Councilman Kurt Cavanaugh.

Kurt Cavanaugh said his nephew was always very busy, and willing to fearlessly try new things. “He enjoys life – always trying to find some way to experience life and be active and generous with his being – who he is and the way he was brought up,” he said.

State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan (R-31) said he has known Cavanaugh and his family for many years. He joked that he thought about parking illegally outside the Gallery, reasoning that Cavanaugh's propensity for writing tickets would be negated by the fact that he was already inside the banquet.

“I know how busy he is, and how much he writes,” Srinivasan said. “I told myself all I had to do was leave the room before he does.”

Captain Joe Rios from the Newtown Police Department was the guest speaker. Rios thanked the law enforcement officers who came to Newtown, including the 15 to 20 from Glastonbury, to assist with the school shooting in December of 2012. Rios said he remembers that day vividly, and that what he saw, heard and felt will be forever “burned in our minds, hearts and souls.”

“There was no script for the aftermath of Sandy Hook,” he said. “There was no playbook.”

Rios said that some lessons learned by his department from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School (which he refers to as “12-14”) are lessons that pertain to first responders everywhere. “Trust each other, and stay together,” he said. “When you have an event such as 12-14, there is confusion, and there are distractions. Every department has underlying issues, and that can be used as a positive.”

Rios urged the officers to take advantage of services offered within the department, but also to keep an eye on each other, emotionally, on a daily basis, because when a crisis happens, officers will have to rely on each other, and long after.

“If you know of officers, and there are some warning signs, or things they are going through, please stick together, and work with your command staff and supervisors,” he said. “If you have a traumatic event, like that which we experienced, as we have been told by professionals, we will be experiencing these issues for years to come.”

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