Washington, DC — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Officer Rob Angelo of the Bangor (ME) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for August 2010.
Standing on the edge of the Penobscot River Bridge above the icy waters of the Penobscot River, the distraught woman had made her decision; she was determined to end her life. What she hadn’t foreseen was the determination of Officer Rob Angelo and the dedicated officers of the Bangor Police Department to thwart her plan.
In the early morning hours of December 13, 2009, Officer Rob Angelo responded to a call of a woman standing on the bridge. As he exited his cruiser, Officers Jim Hassard and Joe Baillargeon arrived and began to block traffic. The concrete slab, on which she was standing outside the bridge’s railing, as well as the railing itself, was covered with ice. Officer Angelo’s hope was to keep the woman calm until the Bangor Fire Department’s boat could arrive and pull her from the icy waters if she did indeed jump. He soon realized the rescue boat could not reach his location due to the amount of ice in the water.
In the 20 minutes that Officer Angelo and the woman spoke, he learned that it was the two year anniversary of the death of her children. Officer Angelo recalled, “She wasn’t intoxicated. She was very level-headed. It was clear she had thought about this.” The two had established a rapport; he confided to her that it was his daughter’s birthday. He pleaded with her to come in from the ledge and finally convinced her not to jump.
As she turned, she lost her footing and fell, catching herself by throwing one arm over the railing. Officer Angelo jumped over the Jersey barrier, and grabbed the woman before she fell. An on-board video camera from the cruiser shows Officer Angelo’s feet coming off the ground as he struggled to hold onto the woman. Officers Hassard and Baillargeon helped pull her to safety, after which, she was transported her to a local hospital. Finally Officer Angelo was able to end his shift and go home; after all it was his daughter’s birthday.
After watching the stunning in-car video of the incident, Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia insisted that Officer Angelo be recognized for his heroic actions. In a memorandum to the Maine Chiefs of Police Awards Committee, Chief Gastia wrote “that by leaning over the railings, the officers disregarded their own safety, as they, too, could have been pulled over. The fall and subsequent immersion would likely have been fatal.” Thankfully, the woman has recovered and has contacted the Bangor Police Department and Officer Angelo, to offer her gratitude for saving her life.
Officer Angelo has served with the Bangor Police Department for eleven years. He is a K-9 Handler, a Self Defense Instructor, a Police Cyclist, a Police Physical Fitness Instructor and a member of Special Response Team. He is a member of the Bangor Fraternal Order of Police.
Located in the nation’s capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Officer Angelo, along with the other Officers of the Month for 2010, will be honored at a special awards luncheon in Washington, DC, in May 2011 during National Police Week. In addition, their stories of heroism and service will be featured in the Memorial Fund’s 2012 calendar.