By Nancy Rineman
Atlantic News, Thursday, July 31, 2003
HAMPTON — The Hampton Police Department was well represented Sunday evening at the Sixth Annual Congressional Law Enforcement Awards ceremony held at the Police Standards and Training Academy in Concord.
Senator John E. Sununu, (R-NH), along with Representatives Charles Bass and Jeb Bradley, (R-NH), presented the awards to 54 law enforcement officers across the state. Senator Judd Gregg(R-NH), also an honorary chair of this year's event, was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Nine Hampton police officers received awards in recognition of outstanding contributions made in the line of duty. The recipients were chosen by an independent committee of local, county and state law enforcement officers who served as judges for all submissions.
In the category of Dedication and Professionalism, Sergeant Franklin K. "Gus" Knowles, Officer William Cronin, Officer Scott Bates, and Officer Robert Sparkes were recognized for their exemplary actions involving saving the life of a newborn infant at Hampton Beach in August of 2002.
The rescue of the baby followed an ambulance transport to Exeter Hospital of a young lady experiencing massive bleeding, according to Officer Richard Bateman of the Hampton Police Department, a member of the awards committee. "About 1-1/2 hours later, the hospital called asking where the baby was," Bateman recalled. Knowles, Cronin, Bates and Sparkes responded to the Concord Avenue area of Hampton Beach, locating the family who had brought the hospitalized girl to the beach as a guest. The officers then retraced steps and began a "hands and knee" search.
Bateman said that at that point, Knowles' flashlight went out but he refused to give up. It was at that time, according to Bateman, that Knowles said he heard the "faintest whimper," leading to the discovery of the infant lying face down in a pool of water in a tarpaulin, in "serious distress."
Bateman said Cronin, who had a strong background in emergency pediatric care, started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the infant, while Bates took out a knife to cut off one of his boot laces to tie off the umbilical cord. According to Bateman, doctors later said that had the officers done "anything different," the baby would not be celebrating a one-year birthday this August.
Five Hampton police officers received awards for Above and Beyond the Call of Duty regarding a possible suicide attempt of a young woman at Hampton Beach. Coincidentally, the incident concluded very near to the spot where the infant had been discovered, Bateman said.
The incident began when Officer John Donaldson received a call identified as an "unknown problem." Donaldson responded to the scene to find the female in a locked car with a five-gallon container of gasoline with a soaked wick and matches. According to Bateman, Donaldson attempted to engage the woman in conversation in an effort to distract her. At the time, Bateman said, Donaldson was unaware that the woman was also carrying a knife.
"She started running," Bateman said, as Officers Charles Karpenko, Steve Henderson, and Sergeants John Galvin and Joe Galvin responded to the scene. The woman threatened Henderson with the knife as he also attempted to engage her in conversation, Bateman said. At that point, without any communication, all five officers rushed the woman at the same instant, according to Bateman.
"The incident was brought to a successful, non-lethal conclusion," Bateman said.
[Atlantic News Courtesy Photo by Kelly Bateman]
Bateman said the common assumption has always been that police officers on the night beat are "tough," but that compassion is a far bigger component than most realize. He stressed the importance of the awards ceremony program for its recognition of officers from all across the country to promote the work of officers above and beyond the call of duty.
In a statement released on behalf of the New Hampshire Congressional delegation, it was noted that "although Congress strives to pass legislation that will make the streets safer and to protect children from drugs, it is the law enforcement officers working on the front lines each day who take the necessary risks to ensure our safety." The statement continues, "The Law Enforcement Awards are a fitting tribute to our officers and a reminder to all of us of the important role they play in our lives."