A dozen Massachusetts police officers were recently honored for their bravery and excellent police work at the 37th and 38th annual Trooper George Hanna Memorial Awards ceremony at the Worcester Mechanics Hall.
Twelve officers from across the state were selected for their meritorious actions to receive awards presented by Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. This year’s ceremony combined recipients from 2019 and 2020 due to last year’s COVID-related postponement.
The Hanna Awards honor the memory of State Trooper George Hanna, who was killed in the line of duty in 1983 during a traffic stop, and are given to members of law enforcement who demonstrate outstanding bravery.
“These awards recognize police officers who exhibited remarkable heroism in the face of extreme danger,” Gov. Baker said. “Their quick-thinking and decisive actions showed extraordinary courage and a deep commitment to helping others no matter the risk to themselves. Today’s recipients carry on the legacy of Trooper George Hanna, demonstrating exceptional police work grounded in the value of selfless service.”
The ceremony’s two most highly distinguished awards are the Trooper George L. Hanna Medal of Honor and the Medal of Valor.
The Medal of Honor is the state’s most prestigious law enforcement award, and is presented to those who demonstrated extraordinary courage and bravery while risking imminent to danger to their own life.
The Medal of Valor, the second-greatest honor in Massachusetts policing, and is awarded to officers who perform a single act of heroism that goes above and beyond the call of duty, showcasing their selfless bravery in a life-threatening situation.
Massachusetts State Trooper Stephen M. Torosian, and Boston police Officer William Hull and Officer Mark Whalen received the 2019 Medal of Honor awards. Recipients of the 2019 Medal of Valor were Trooper Peter Towle and Westborough police Sgt. Jonathan Kalagher.
2020 Medal of Valor recipients included Trooper Michael Palmer, Trooper John J. Lennon, Pepperell police Sgt. Nick Parker and Officer Justin Zink, Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council Sgt. Christopher Baker, Officer David Schepis and Officer Stephen Wallace Jr.
2019 Medal of Valor recipient Sgt. Jonathon Kalagher, said the ceremony was a humbling experience.
“It’s one of the most humbling experiences of your life. To be mentioned in the same sentence with Trooper Hanna, it leaves you speechless,” Kalagher said.
Kalagher shot and killed a suspect who refused to put down a knife after stabbing his wife. Kalagher had a few seconds to determine whether the suspect was going to endanger others.
Family members of Hanna were special guests at the event. Lt. Gov. Polito reflected on her memory of Hanna.
“I was a junior at Holy Name High School when that tragedy occurred. It stays with us and stays with this community, as it does with the family and the family of law enforcement.”
Also in attendance was the family of fallen Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia, who died this summer trying to save a boy from drowning. Familia will be honored during next year’s ceremony.