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Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom

Milford Police Officer Sgt. Kevin Furlong accepts an award from Governor John Lynch and Chief Fred Douglas Tuesday evening, December 15, 2009, during a ceremony honoring Furlong and fellow officer Eric Wales for their efforts following the Mont Vernon murder of Kimberly Cates in October.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Milford Sgt. Furlong to receive national honor in May

MILFORD – Nine months after he was lauded as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month for his crucial role in saving the life of young Mont Vernon home invasion victim Jaimie Cates, Sgt. Kevin Furlong is preparing for another round of kudos when he and his fellow hero officers gather in Washington, D.C. in May for National Police Week.

Furlong, who in October 2009 broke through the locked front door of the Cates home and rescued the severely injured girl after four youths killed her mother and left Jaimie for dead, is being cited for bravery and for taking quick action in the critical first moments after his arrival on Trow Road.

The four youths, who were eventually convicted on a variety of charges, broke into the Cates home around 4 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 4. Two of them, Steven Spader and Christopher Gribble, slashed a sleeping Kimberly Cates repeatedly then turned on Jaimie, who was 11 at the time. Kimberly Cates died in her bed, while Jaimie pretended to be dead then crawled to the kitchen to call 911 after the suspects left.

Furlong, who was the first officer on the scene, calmed Jaimie while quickly checking the home for suspects. After finding Kimberly Cates dead, he returned to the barely conscious Jaimie, picked her up and rushed outside where he and officer Eric Wales performed first aid until the ambulance arrived.

In October, Furlong and Wales were among several local police officers honored at the annual Congressional Law Enforcement Awards ceremony in Concord. “I am extremely proud of the way they conducted themselves,” Milford Police Chief Fred Douglas said at the time. Douglas, who nominated Furlong for national Officer of the Month last year, referred to Furlong’s propensity to shun the spotlight. “My officers will tell you they don’t consider themselves heroes. But what is easy to forget in this case is Sgt. Furlong did not know whether the assailants were still in the house when he entered.”

Furlong and Wales also were honored in December 2011 at a large public reception at Milford Town Hall. Among those present were various town and state officials, police, residents, friends and family members, some of whom spoke.

“I think if you asked these (officers) if they wanted this kind of attention shined on them, they’d surely say, ‘No, I’m not a hero, I was just doing what any officer would do’,” said then-selectmen’s chairman Tim Finan. “But everyone in this room would say, ‘No, we know better than that … what you did that night was nothing but heroic.’ ”

Town administrator Guy Scaife said he was “privileged to represent all Town of Milford employees in honoring you for your actions.

“We will never know the emotions of that moment, of the intensity you felt as you went about doing your job that morning,” he said.

“Today, an 11-year-old girl, who must have been in clinical shock when you got to her, is alive because of your actions. You made a horrible situation better that morning.”

Furlong’s honors will come at a special National Police Week luncheon May 16, according to the organization’s website. The stories behind each honoree’s award will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s 2013 calendar.

National Police Week goes back a half-century to President John F. Kennedy’s proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week. Between 25,000-40,000 people attend each year.

A memorial service at Senate Park was added in 1982. The Memorial Fund Officer of the Month program began in September 1996 to recognize “federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty,” according to the website.

The National Peace Officers Memorial Service is now part of the week’s activities, featuring a candlelight vigil for fallen officers and seminars sponsored by Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or