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Officer Cavanaugh recognized by MADD

Date: 6/6/2011

June 6, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW — East Longmeadow Police Officer Donald Cavanaugh was recently honored by the Massachusetts chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD).

Cavanaugh, who serves as the department's resource officer for the high school, was recognized with a MADD Heroes award at the chapter's annual Drive For Life breakfast at the Devens Common Center on May 18. He was one of 42 police officers, seven police departments and 32 Massachusetts State Troopers recognized that morning for their commitment to preventing drunk driving and apprehending offenders. The award recognized Cavanaugh's work in getting drunk drivers off the road.

Police Chief Douglas Mellis told Reminder Publications he recommended Cavanaugh for the award for his work and because of the officer's drunk driving-related injuries.

"Don was involved in a car accident while doing a drunk driving detail in [December] 2009," Mellis said. "He had back and neck injuries and was out until April 2010."

Mellis said Cavanaugh had a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation when the drunk driver rear-ended the cruiser while he was in the process of getting out of it.

Mellis said he waited until this year to recommend Cavanaugh because of a pending court case against the driver.

"It was a difficult way to get the award, being hit by a drunk driver while at a traffic stop," Board of Selectman Chair Paul Federici said. "We are all very grateful that he made a complete recovery from his injuries."

The Board of Selectmen also recognized Cavanaugh with a second award at its May 31 meeting.

"It seems that every day we hear of another law enforcement officer who is injured or killed by a vehicle and many times the offender is impaired," Federici said. "This time it hit far too close to home and highlights the need for diligence in enforcing drunk driving laws."

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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