BURRILLVILLE – An annual event recognizing outstanding achievements in the community – both in and out of the town’s law enforcement ranks – included a few surprises and heart-warming moments on Thursday, Dec. 14, as residents gathered to honor and thank local heroes.
“I want to thank them for doing a job that’s not as easy as it once was,” Town Council President Don Fox said of the assembled members of the Burrillville Police Department during opening remarks.
Col Stephen Lynch framed his remarks around the difficulty of policing, and his staff’s willingness to, “get dirty,” witnessing and addressing some of the town’s most difficult situations, from violence and tragic accidents, to overdose deaths and suicides.
“What I’m really talking about is what they’re exposed to, and what they go home with,” Lynch said. “What is the deciding factor for all of our people is who they go home to. It is that love, that warmth, that support, that gets our people cleaned up. Most importantly, it comes down to their loved ones.”
Major Albert Carlow detailed some of those difficult incidents, pointing to extraordinary acts by local law enforcement. Three lives in town, he noted, were saved over the past year through the use of Narcan, and several officers were recognized for their quick work in the opioid overdoses.
Lts. William Lacey and Ryan Hughes, and Sgt. Brian Pitts, meanwhile, were honored for their work in locating and charging two 15-year-old suspects following an incident in May, where a 17-year-old was struck with a skateboard on the bike path in town.
Acting Sgt. Rebecca Carvalho was honored for her part following an incident in August, where a group of friends were attacked while trying to leave a party on Steere Farm Road. Carvalho was able to identify the suspects, eventually generating photo lineups for the victims to identify them.
“Sergeant Carvalho worked tirelessly,” Carlow said. “This officer’s tenaciousness and diligence is a credit to herself, the Burrillville Police Department and the residents of Burrillville.”
The acting sergeant also joined Det. Lt. Jason Cahill; Officer Jason Nault; Officer Jennifer Baker; Officer Ryan Turner; and Officer Wayne Richardson in receiving an award for the search and rescue of a Burrillville woman who was located in the Nipmuc River in June. Carlow noted that the officers jumped in to rescue her and brought her safely to shore.
Ten local law enforcement officials received honors from the BPD in recognition of their work in the investigation and eventual arrest of Ronald Andruchuk, a Tarkiln Road resident found to have more than 200 weapons and pounds of ammunition in his home. Lynch noted that police became aware of his illegal gun stockpile and improper use of the weapons but were, “frustrated in attempts to obtain evidence.”
Hughes reportedly became aware of the suspect’s, “intense infatuation,” with guns and was able to establish a dialog where Andruchuk divulged information that eventually led to an intense raid on the property. Andruchuk was found wearing a bulletproof vest, and carrying four guns and methamphetamines, and a search of the home that he shared with his wife and three children uncovered the illegal firearms and ammo, a flamethrower, ghost guns, cocaine, amphetamines, and more methamphetamines.
“The subject was taken into custody on a warrant,” said Lynch, noting he has since faced charges including drug possession, domestic violence, cyberstalking and counts related to the ghost guns, as well as federal weapons charges thanks to the BPD’s work. “This was just absolutely outstanding work by these officers standing here tonight.”
And it was not just the officers dodging gunfire, but also those who work behind the scenes who were recognized, including Administrative Asst. to the Chief Lisa Rabideau, who organizes the annual event, held this year in the auditorium of Burrillville High School. Lynch also pointed to the work of Lt. Jason Eddy and dispatcher Keith Mccarthy in debriefing the officers after difficult calls, noting the two have been friends since their youth, growing up in Burrillville.
Lynch also recognized the department’s Accident Reconstruction Team, made up of Officers Vincente Baffoni and Geoffrey Cicatiello, along with Rhode Island State Police Trooper Cameron Cliff. The team, Lynch noted, had an unfortunately busy year, with two fatal, and one near-fatal accidents, including a crash in October on Lapham Farm Road in which extreme speed was determined to be a factor.
“The crash resulted in the loss of life for the two young occupants of the vehicle,” Lynch said, noting the the officers’ work produced a clear picture of what happened, allowing the department to provide answers to families “These are not easy conversations. They conduct their work with a quiet poise and intensity.”
In a special, surprise recognition, Carlow went from award presenter to recipient in honor of his off-duty actions. Jamestown resident Dr. John Graham, an anesthesiologist, was found face down in the water by samaritans over the summer. Eddy was enjoying time on a boat nearby and heard on his radio that was something was happening. The off-duty lieutenant immediately jumped in, swam over and helped to save him.
“Fortunately for Dr. Graham, he is part seal,” said Lynch.
The doctor and members of his family attended the event to thank the Burrillville Police major in person.
“I’m honored to be here to say thank you,” said Graham. “I am so grateful.”
NRI NOW will publish additional coverage from the community event, including citizen recognitions and video from the ceremony, in a separate article later this week.