Sgt. Thomas Lencki receives the Medal of Meritorious Service from Director Robert Quinn during the annual NH State Police awards ceremony on Friday in Concord. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
CONCORD -- The New Hampshire State Police took time Friday afternoon to recognize and honor nearly 80 troopers for actions deemed commendable in the line of duty.
Col. Robert Quinn called the troopers to the stage by name individually or in groups during a two-hour ceremony at the Police Standards and Training Council and recounted the instances that led to meritorious performances.
“We’re so involved in our day-to-day duties and cases and just life that it’s very important to take one day and pull it all together and recognize the hard work of everybody here,” Quinn said after the ceremony.
Some were called up more than once, as Quinn handed out 88 awards in all, including 10 to a group of retired troopers who were injured while on the job.
“You put your lives on the line every day. It’s a very, very, very difficult job,” Quinn told the group. “For all the Monday morning quarterbacks that are out there in the world, let them put this uniform on and see for themselves.”
Gov. Maggie Hassan made a brief speech to open the ceremony and stayed throughout the proceedings, remaining on the stage to pose for photos with troopers and their families celebrating the occasion.
“Public safety is truly our most important responsibility. Our people our families, and our economy can not thrive without safe communities,” Hassan said. “Thanks to your dedication the well being New Hampshire is consistently recognized as one of the safest states in the nation. I know I can speak on behalf of all the people of New Hampshire in saying thank you for putting your lives on the line every day to protect ours.”
Maj. Russell Conte was one of the first to be recognized, called up to the stage by Quinn with 10 troopers he led on a relief mission to New Jersey to assist in the aftermath and cleanup the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in shore areas and beyond.
“I think any time you recognize any member of an organization that works hard, it’s fitting and there’s a lot of honor and dignity in it,” Conte said. “I think what you have here is men and women who have taken time to do the job to the best of their ability and that’s all we can really ask. This is a special day for the whole division. It’s a special day for the troopers and a very special day for their families.”
Quinn said the annual ceremony was special this year because it recognized troopers injured years ago, some severely enough to force them into retirement.
One was retired Sgt. Benjamin Mozrall, who was wounded in a shootout that killed a priest at a church in Littleton in 1979.
“It’s a good feeling. It just showed the gratitude,” Mozrall said. “I love the state police. I’ve been with the state police for a long time. They look after their own.”