BELMONT — The Irish American Police Officers Association (IAPOA) is pleased to announce that a Melrose Police Detective was honored for an investigation into a fatal drug overdose, and two Melrose Police Officers were honored for saving a life.
IAPOA Vice President Brett Rand and IAPOA Assistant Treasurer Ned Shinnick visited the Melrose Police Department on Tuesday to present an IAPOA Investigative Award to Detective Greg Forestell, and to present IAPOA Life Saving Awards to Officer William Higgins and Officer Joseph Stamegna.
Detective Forestell was honored for an investigation that began in January 2017, when the Melrose Police Department responded to a fatal drug overdose involving a resident. Forestell, who is assigned as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Task Force Officer, conducted an investigation into the source of the fatal drugs.
As a result of the investigation, a Lynn man was arrested and admitted to distributing illegal drugs in Melrose, Lynn, Peabody and Malden almost daily. That man was convicted in June 2019 and was sentenced to 150 months in federal prison, due to sentencing guidelines that were enhanced due to the death of the victim.
For his diligence in investigating the death and bring the case to closure, Detective Forestell was presented the IAPOA Investigative Award.
Officer Higgins and Officer Stamegna were honored for their life-saving actions on May 4, 2019, when the Melrose Police Department responded to a report of a resident having a heart attack.
Upon arrival, Officer Higgins and Officer Stamegna found the resident on a couch, unresponsive with no pulse and not breathing. The Officers moved the resident to the floor. Officer Stamegna began chest compressions as Officer Higgins prepared an automated external defibrillator (AED). A single shock was delivered from the AED as Melrose firefighters arrived on scene and began ventilating the patient. Within 15 seconds, the patient’s pulse and breathing were restored. The patient was transported to a local hospital by Cataldo Ambulance.
For their quick and professional response and life-saving actions, Officers Higgins and Officer Stamegna were presented the IAPOA Life Saving Award.
Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle praised all three officers, noting that Detective Forestell, Officer Higgins, and Officer Stamegna used their training and experience to achieve successful outcomes.
“These Melrose Police Department officers used their training, compassion, professionalism and determination to both save a life, and to get some measure of justice for a life that was lost to illegal drugs,” said Vice President Rand. “Law enforcement officers dedicate themselves to helping in a wide variety of situations, and the actions of these officers are a testament to what that kind of determination can achieve.”
The IAPOA usually holds an annual awards dinner for all honorees, but has been unable to do so for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year the IAPOA is recognizing honorees by travelling to meet them and present the awards individually. The IAPOA is hopeful it will be able to host an in-person dinner and awards ceremony again next year.
Individuals and organizations can be nominated for awards in six categories:
- Life saving
- Meritorious service
- Community Service
- Humanitarian Acts
The IAPOA also recognizes the sacrifice made in line of duty deaths with a Medal of Honor presented posthumously to the families of fallen officers.
The IAPOA is a designated 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For further information or to become a member, please visit www.irishamericanpolice.org.