By Bob Salsberg
BOSTON — A Springfield police officer who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance was honored posthumously on Monday with Massachusetts’ highest law enforcement award.
Officer Kevin Ambrose’s widow, Carla, wiped away tears as she and the officer’s son, Kyle, accepted the Medal of Honor award from Gov. Deval Patrick as part of the 30th annual George L. Hanna police bravery awards ceremony at the Statehouse.
Ambrose, a 36-year department veteran, was shot in June 2012 when he answered a 911 call from a woman who said she feared for her life after a dispute with her ex-boyfriend. Police said Shawn Bryan, a New York City prison guard, killed Ambrose and critically wounded the woman before taking his own life.
Ambrose was remembered by his colleagues in a video tribute as a dedicated officer and family man.
The awards are named for Hanna, a state trooper, who was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop in Auburn in 1983.
‘‘Every day, in countless ways, we are reminded of the crucial role police officers play in keeping our neighborhoods safe,’’ Patrick said. ‘‘And we never can forget the dangers they face, the sacrifices they and their families make, and the debt we owe to them.’’
The governor also presented the Medal of Honor to state trooper John Vasquez, who was wounded during a chaotic confrontation with a gunman in Chicopee in April 2012. The 20-year veteran of the state police was shot in the hand and leg after responding to a report of shots being fired from a home.
Three other state troopers and three Chicopee officers who were pinned down by gunfire during the incident were presented with Medals of Valor.
More than 20 officers in all received awards, which honored acts of bravery in 2012.
The two other Medal of Honor recipients were Saugus Lt. Det. David Gecoya and Malden Det. Michael Casaletto, for their roles in a bank robbery, carjacking and shootout that left one suspect dead.
Boston Police Sgt. Edward Norton had the distinction of receiving meritorious recognition awards for two separate incidents.
Norton and police officer Elizabeth Philbin were cited for disarming an out-of-control, knife-wielding woman who was later treated for mental illness. Norton’s second award came for jumping into the frigid waters of the Fort Point Channel last December to help rescue a woman who was clinging to a floating dock after either falling or jumping into the waterway.
Patrick said the Hanna awards reflect the ‘‘professionalism, dedication, devotion and restraint,’’ of law enforcement officers.
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Copyright 2013 Associated Press