Officers honored for community service

The honorees: Pictured are (from left) Officers Thomas O’Neill and Robert Benzon, Capt. Thomas McLean and state Rep. Ed Neilson. SOURCE: 2ND POLICE DISTRICT

Three officers from the 2nd Police District were presented with Community Service Awards during the monthly meeting of the 2nd Police District Advisory Council on Oct. 13.

Officers Thomas O’Neill and Robert Benzon, along with Sgt. Mellissa Panebianco, helped get a wheelchair-bound homeless man off the street and into a shelter while seeking social services.

It happened on May 25, Memorial Day, when Benzon and O’Neill were called to the area of Castor Avenue and Hartel Street in response to a report of a homeless person in need of assistance. The officers spoke to the man, who said he was partially paralyzed and had served in the U.S. Army. He said he had nowhere to go, but was tired of being sent to hospitals.

The man’s story impacted the officers, particularly considering it was Memorial Day. Panebianco soon arrived at the scene and helped the officers in finding shelter for the man. After making many phone calls, they found a spot for him at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission at 13th and Vine streets. The following day, workers for the Veterans Multi-Service Center picked him up for an assessment.

Capt. Thomas McLean recommended the officers for the Police Community Service Award, noting that they “displayed profound concern for the wellbeing of a man they just met and were adamant on getting him the proper assistance needed. Together they worked as a team beyond the traditional duties of a police officer and they are a shining example to community service.” ••