Salem police, dispatchers recognized for 'once in a career' situation

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Oct. 7—SALEM, N.H. — Members of the Salem Police Department have been praised by Granite State Congressional leaders for their bravery and life-saving response during a grisly call for service earlier this year.

After some time to heal, the victims too have expressed gratitude and look forward to meeting their Salem heroes.

It was March 3, a Wednesday afternoon, when Janet Blanchard, 54, and her pregnant daughter, Geena Sindoni, 26, were out walking their dog in Haverhill near the Salem, New Hampshire, line.

Police say 23-year-old Jake Kavanaugh drove his car into the women and proceeded to attack Blanchard with a box cutter.

The multi-department response included quick action from three of Salem's on-duty officers and three dispatchers.

Officer Michael Cummings, the first to arrive at the scene, was able to figure out quickly what was going on and stop the box cutter attack, according to reports. Cummings is also credited with taking Kavanaugh into custody and tending to Blanchard's life-threatening injuries until more help arrived.

Officer Cody Sharpe and Sgt. Stephen Lundquist arrived shortly after to provide additional lifesaving measures, relay vital information and secure the residential neighborhood.

Records, including recorded 911 calls, show how dispatchers Scott Deschene, James Bacon, and Tyler Fournier juggled numerous emergency calls.

Police Chief Joel Dolan said the randomness and violence that day was "one of those once in a career calls."

"There was outstanding effort from our dispatchers and first responding units who had no idea what they were going into," he said. "Quick action and training kicked in."

The original call, Dolan remembers, was for a person hit by a car — a drastically different situation from what unfolded.

The response was acknowledged this month in Concord, at the New Hampshire Congressional Law Enforcement Awards. The Salem team was joined by police from across the state who proved similar, standout performances during their own calls.

Salem's Deschene, Bacon and Fournier — who is currently away on military leave — were awarded citations for their assistance and calm demeanors amid chaos.

Cummings, Sharpe and Lundquist received the Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award, presented by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Since 1998, the congressional award has been used to underscore the service and sacrifice made by those in law enforcement.

The family extended gratitude in a joint statement.

"They're the reason my mom is still alive and we still have her here with us. Officer Cummings was first on scene. I was in a vehicle with the neighbor and told Officer Cummings I was OK and asked him to go to my mom," the statement reads. "I never knew who was who between Salem and Haverhill (police). We want to also thank the Haverhill Police because they were also involved. We're so grateful our mom can hold her grandson. They kept me calm for my baby's sake. I'm feeling good."

Lincoln, Geena's 3-month-old son, is often referred to as the family's miracle baby.

The case against Kavanaugh is ongoing. He has been charged out of Essex Superior Court with a long list of crimes, including armed assault to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, mayhem, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

During a brief hearing in August, Kavanaugh's attorney said he remains at Bridgewater State Hospital, a state facility that houses the criminally insane and those whose sanity is being evaluated.

Reporter Allison Corneau contributed to this report.

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