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Monday night’s Public Safety Commission meeting had an unusually large audience, as police Lt. Leonard Bunnell Sr. was quick to point out.
The Town Council Chambers filled for the 7 p.m. meeting mainly because of tributes to three men. Sgt. Michael Collins and Dave Rowley, both retiring police officers, and Dennis Monahan Jr., a decorated officer who died of cancer in 2007, were honored for their service to the town.
Collins is the retiring resident state trooper. He was applauded by Bunnell, who said he has worked with more resident state troopers than he could remember in his 34 years on the police force. He said Collins was the best of the bunch for the way he backed up his officers and leaned on them when needed.
Rowley, who is the chairman of the Board of Education, worked part-time for the police department for 24 years. He was instrumental in launching the department’s marine unit -- which patrols bodies of water such as Gardner Lake -- and also worked as a school resource officer and science teacher in the town’s public schools.
Monahan was one of seven officers to travel to Ground Zero in New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. With his wife and family on hand Monday, he was also remembered for his bravery and volunteer work in the community. Monahan’s family was presented with a wooden case that displayed all of the late officer’s medals.
It was not your typical town meeting. Rather, it was quite the night – one filled with several standing ovations for three officers who have given a lot to the town and the police department.