Portland police celebrate with breakfast of champions

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PORTLAND — The Police Department hosted its eighth annual awards breakfast Saturday at Ocean Gateway, to salute officers, units and citizens for helping to make the city a safer place to live and work in 2013.

“Throughout the year, we ask your loved ones to do so much, and that means that we ask you to do so much,” Chief Michael Sauschuk told the packed room. “Days like Christmas, where the rest of America is shut down, we depend on our officers; we couldn’t do that without (our) understanding families.”

The department handed out 38 awards. Among the civilian recipients was Mike Fink, owner of Guitar Grave on Congress Street.

“Fink has a very collaborative approach with us,” Sauschuk said, “and (when attempting to recover stolen merchandise), we can depend on his help.”

Fink received formal recognition for sharing his security videos with the Police Department. When asked how he zeroes in on certain individuals, Fink said “You just get a feel. People bring in stolen merchandise and through videos, (the police) can identify criminals easier.”

Another citizen award went to Raymond Gauvin, who, on the evening of Oct. 16, 2013, heard sounds of emergency braking on a train that runs by his home. In the darkness, he ran to the scene and eventually found a person who had been hit by the train; he called immediately for help and initiated CPR. Officers Christian Stickney and David Shertz arrived and took over for Gauvin. The victim later died, but Gauvin and the officers never gave up trying to save his life.

One of the unit commendations went to Officers Daniel Hondo, Nicholas Goodman, Mark Keller and Richard Ray, who worked closely with Maine Drug Enforcement Agency to investigate the inner workings of a rivalry between two drug dealers, ultimately identifying members of a large group planning to make Portland a hub for a drug network.

Their work led to the seizure of 67 grams of heroin, a firearm believed to be used in a shooting at the Lafayette Townhouse Apartments on Congress Street, and the arrest of a suspect.

The final award of the morning was for Officer of the Year, which went to Officer Daniel Townsend.

“(Townsend) is someone we all seek to emulate; a great guy and a great police officer. He’s a hazmat technician and  (has been) a senior lead officer,” Sauschuk said. “SLOs essentially lead SWAT-like initiatives. He’s always jumped in with both feet, and has a way about him that makes people trust he knows what he’s doing.”

Sauschuk also noted that Townsend had been promoted to the Crime Reduction Unit, because of his talent for work of a proactive nature.

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Portland Police Department Officer of the Year Daniel Townsend.