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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Top law enforcement award given to Chief Michael Maloney for ‘paying the ultimate sacrifice’

In the eyes of his peers, Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney epitomized the risks law enforcement officers face every day and how they are supposed to act under fire.

As one of Maloney’s fellow officers lay wounded April 12, Maloney ran to his aid and pulled him to safety. As an armed gunman sprayed bullets from his Greenland home, Maloney returned fire, protecting the other officers and the people who lived nearby.

In those moments, Maloney paid the ultimate sacrifice.

On Wednesday, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police awarded Maloney with the Medal of Honor, its highest award. The medal was given posthumously to Maloney’s wife, Peg, the “love of his life.”

“It’s the epitome of the sacrifice we make,” said Pittsfield Police Chief Bob Wharem, president of the Association of Chiefs. “He gave his life protecting the officers around him and the residents of that area.”

It’s the first time Wharem could recall the association giving the award in the 17 years he’s been involved, he said.

Newly sworn in Greenland Police Chief Tara Laurent recommended Maloney for the Medal of Honor for his actions on the night he was killed.

“Chief Maloney’s heroism under life-threatening circumstances embodies courage, strength and selflessness that are beyond measure,” she said in her letter.

Maloney’s fellow chiefs couldn’t have agreed more.

Giving Maloney the Medal of Honor wasn’t even a question, Wharem said. The decision was unanimous.

“Everybody wanted to do something to honor him,” he said. “He’s a law enforcement officer who did what he loved and protected his community. This is what law enforcement is all about.”

Wharem was Maloney’s partner in 1991 and 1992, when they both worked together for the North Hampton Police Department. Maloney, the senior officer on the force, trained Wharem on the department’s policies and procedures.

Maloney was a fun guy, who took his job very seriously, Wharem said.

“I know Mike Maloney, and he would have done the same thing 20,000 times over if he had the chance,” Wharem said.

Laurent was sworn in after the shooting. One of the first things she did was nominate Maloney for the state’s top law enforcement award.

Her letter detailed Maloney’s actions during the deadly exchange with gunman Cullen Mutrie.

“Detective Scott Kukesh was the first officer wounded during the initial volley of fire. As all of the officers retreated for cover, Chief Maloney dragged Detective Kukesh to safety, placed him in a police cruiser, and had him taken to Portsmouth Regional Hospital,” Laurent wrote. “Chief Maloney returned to the immediate vicinity of the gun battle to defend other wounded officers to ensure their safe evacuation.

Wharem was among the officers who went to the Portsmouth Hospital last Thursday night after the five officers were shot.

“We’re very proud as a law enforcement community to have him among our ranks,” he said. “We’re very proud to have the members of the Greenland Police Department among our ranks. They’re a great group of people.”

Jonathan Van Fleet can be reached at 594-6465 or jvanfleet@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Van Fleet on Twitter (Telegraph_JonVF).