Bravery Applauded

by Allan Appel | June 4, 2008 8:00 AM | | Comments (6)

nhiquin%20002.JPGWhen a fleeing criminal with a gun decided to take on the cops, he had the bad luck to encounter William Gargone.

At Tuesday night’s monthly Quinnipiac East Management Team (QEMT) meeting, Officer Gargone (at right in photo) and his partner Mike Torre (at left) were recognized for their service and bravery with a formal citation from the Board of Aldermen and the applause and gratitude of some 35 attendees.

Gargone, when not serving New Haven, is a captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces, with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Quinnipiac East’s district manager, Lt. Jeff Hoffman, said his two officers found themselves on April 3 in pursuit of a man, presumed armed, when he got out of his car on Donna Drive in a hilly area behind Cinema 1-2-3. What followed sounded like a movie or TV series, but it was all too real.

“He fled into the woods,” Hoffman continued, “and the officers chased him. He was clutching his waistband, which prompted Officer Gargone to go down on his knee and draw his gun.”

Gargone said his 18 years of military experience including recent time chasing bad guys in Iraq, made him feel quite at ease in the circumstance. He did say he shouted at the suspect in no uncertain terms what would happen if he drew the gun. “I came very close,” Gargone said, “to pulling the trigger. Fortunately we didn’t have to.”

The man threw down his weapon, which turned out to be a stolen .45 caliber gun, into the woods and fled on foot. The officers continued the chase up a hilly trail, and then pepper sprayed and subdued the man.

nhiquin%20001.JPGQuinnipiac Meadows Alderman Gerald Antunes (at far left in photo) organized the event and made the presentation along with Fair Haven Heights Alderman Alex Rhodeen (at right), who heads the Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee.

It wasn’t so much that Antunes, a retired cop, was troubled that the officers did not receive a formal departmental commendation; in his experience, the action likely didn’t rise to the level where a supervisor makes such a recommendation. Rather he wanted the officers to know that the residents they protect appreciate them.

The life and death moment wasn’t lost on Antunes. “When I was a cop, I used to chase people up into those hills,” he said, “and, believe me, it’s something.”

And there was likely another reason for the public gratitude Antunes organized: The policing district in which Hoffman, Torre, and Gargone serve stretches across three aldermanic wards, from the North Haven border to Lighthouse Point. “It’s the largest policing district in the city. Officers come a long way for back up and to support each other,” Antunes said. “Even with the slight increase in manpower from the recent new class from the academy, there are just not enough officers to cover the district 24 hours a day. We need more.”

Thus when Torre — who also has special training in dealing with the mentally ill and is a new member of the bomb squad — and Gargone performed in this manner, Antunes did not want it to be unremarked upon.

“What I did,” said Gargone, who was the lead officer of the team, “is what any police officer would have done.”

nhiquin%20004.JPGHe said that he and Torre, both nine-year veterans who graduated together from the training academy, share a special bond that day. “We understood what each other was thinking and doing,” he said. “When I had my weapon out, so did Mike. That bond, that teamwork really made a difference.”

The perpetrator was let out of jail shortly after the arrest, it turned out. Yet since then he was rearrested on another gun charge and for possession of 20 bags crack.

Yes, it was “distressing,” to use Hoffman’s word,. “But at least we got one gun off the street, then and hopefully now that guy will be in jail longer.”

(To read other installments in the Independent’s “Cop of the Week” series, click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

(To suggest an officer to be featured, click here.)

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Posted by: BW929 | June 4, 2008 9:41 AM

It's nice to see the officers get such recognition. One correct though, this police district actually covers Five wards or 1/6 of the city.

Posted by: William Doriss | June 4, 2008 10:06 AM

Where's Donna Dr.? Can't find it on my map.

Posted by: walt bradley | June 4, 2008 2:16 PM

I've had the pleasure and honor to know bill gargone as both a friend and as one of his protected citizens when he had the woostersquare beat, this is typical for him, and i expect he'll continue to keep fair haven safe as long as he's out there.
well done beege

Posted by: James | June 4, 2008 3:42 PM

Thanks, guys!

Posted by: Auntie Andrea | June 9, 2008 7:38 AM

NHPD has the best cops in the state

Posted by: 2purpledogs | June 9, 2008 9:24 AM

Donna Drive is off Barnes Avenue, near Ross-Woodward School. Thanks to the officers and the Q team for the recognition.

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