We see them every day. Men and woman in uniform. First responders, who protect our families on a daily basis. On Wednesday the Connecticut State Police made it a point to recognize those efforts.
In a ceremony held at the State Police Training Academy in Meriden, awards were distributed for various acts of remarkable police work and first responder heroism.
“Too often the work that you do is taken for granted,” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz while addressing a room full of award recipients. “You have demonstrated a combination of bravery and selfless in protecting our communities.”
Awards were presented in eight categories, including bravery, meritorious service and the loftiest award, the Medal of Honor. That distinction is awarded to troopers who performs with bravery while engaged in combat with an armed and dangerous person. This year it went to a group of three troopers from Tolland’s Troop C.
“It happened so fast. There’s no way to prepare yourself as it happens. It’s just your training kicks in,” said Trooper Kyle Kaelberer, remembering how the events of December 19, 2017 played out.
Kaelberer, along with troopers Toby Rutkowski and Timothy Benjamin, responded to a domestic dispute in Mansfield that night, which escalated into an exchange of gunfire, before they neutralized the threat.
“It’s nothing that you can totally mentally prepare for until it happens,” said Kaelberer.
As prestigious as the award is, Kaelberer says it’s not about him or his fellow troopers but more a validation for their families, who selflessly allow their loved ones to endanger themselves, to protect others.
“For them it’s a huge burden to know that I’m in danger every day,” explained Kaelberer. “This award ceremony is giving them the relief and realization that the work we do is recognized.”
Troopers weren’t the only ones recognized. Patrick Doherty received a Commissioner’s Recognition Award. While off-duty, this volunteer firefighter responded and saved the life of an injured motorcyclist on Interstate 84 in Danbury this summer.
“I used all my training to kind of help out someone else,” said Doherty, who had to cross three lanes of traffic on the busy interstate to get to the victim who was bleeding profusely before Doherty used a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
“My father rides motorcycle and so do my friends so I’d want someone to do the same for them,” added Doherty.
While awards were distributed in eight categories they all were connected through one common distinction, as explained by Bysiewicz.
“Whether it’s a terrorist attack, a shooting, a fire, you run in when others run out,” she said. “You’re our heroes. We owe you a huge debt of gratitude,” she said.