By Jim Clark
The Somerville Board of Alderman acted last Thursday to approve a Home Rule Petition authorizing the mayor to posthumously appoint slain MIT Police officer, and Somerville resident, Sean Collier to the Somerville Police Department.
Speaking in favor of the appointment, Mayor Curtatone addressed the Board saying, “If anyone has paid attention in the last few days they have learned a lot about Sean Collier, and I learn a little bit more everyday. I knew him. Many of us here know him very well.”
The mood was somber in the Aldermanic Chamber as the mayor went on to explain what Collier’s service meant to the community. “He worked in our police department, in our IT division as an auxiliary officer for several years. He volunteered his time in this community, helping out the boxing club,” the mayor said. “I have learned every day of some new activity or adventure he was involved in. I’m just thankful he didn’t run for mayor, because I’d swear this young man grew up in this city. But he had this incredible spirit and passion about life. Dedicated to his job, and really, I submit, the model of a public servant. He did his duty to his fullest potential, and beyond. He was an ambassador to the community, he wanted to have a positive impact on everyone else’s life. Unheralded in what he did. He did it for no accolade. He did not do it for recognition. He wanted to serve. Above all, he wanted to be a Somerville police officer. Above all.”
“Even after he admirably served us in the department as a civilian and went on to serve with honor at the MIT police department, he still came back and volunteered, managing the website for our police department. He still came back and helped out in the community with our boxing club. He still, from all accounts, from what I hear, across every neighborhood was seen all about Somerville. He really cared about the people in this community.”
“Sean Collier’s name would have been put forward by myself as the appointing authority to you for consideration and confirmation within the next couple of weeks. Tragically and sadly, that won’t be happening. And tonight’s legislation that we’ll vote upon is not typical. But this person was exceptional, as a public servant and as a human being. And my submission of his name to you for consideration is a mere formality at this point. He would have been an outstanding member of The Somerville Police Department.”
“We spend a lot of time, and rightfully so, honoring people who serve country and community. We dedicate many monuments and squares. We go out of our way to make sure we recognize those who put forth themselves for the benefit of others. Sean Collier did that every day while working for the Somerville Police Department volunteering his time. He did that every day as a MIT Police officer. He paid the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his country and his community. His sacrifice led to the capture and take down of two of the most wanted perpetrators of our lifetime. His sacrifice has protected our quality of life, our safety, and secured our wellbeing. I have no doubt that Sean Collier as a member of the Somerville Police Department would not have hesitated to do the same for us. He is a person of honor.”
The mayor acknowledged and thanked members of Collier’s family and his friends who were in attendance at the meeting, and sympathy for their loss.
“Sean will always be a member of the Somerville family. We will never forget him. And I hope this action tonight and what will subsequently occur at the state level will in a very important way memorialize his service and sacrifice. Service and sacrifice of a kid who wanted to do good, who helped other people, and is a national hero.”
Police Chief Tom Pasquarello also addressed the Board and others present. “Last week the world watched in terror as it appeared that evil would temporarily triumph over goodness. As the auxiliary has done every year, they were out there lining the streets of the Boston Marathon. Over 20 officers insuring the safety and security of the visitors and the runners. It was a job that Sean Collier would have done just a few years prior as one of the youngest sergeants of the Somerville Auxiliary Police. When the bombs were detonated, as destiny would have it, two of our Somerville officers were there providing first aid to the critically wounded. When we received the call that officer Collier was shot our officers were there. Deputy Cabral was at his bedside when he passed. The Somerville Police Department has been there every step of the way.”
Chief Pasquarello added, “Sean Collier is the finest. When we interview applicants we ask them ‘What have you done to prepare as a Somerville police officer?’ Sean Collier has been preparing for this job since first grade. In fact, the question we would ask him is what has he not done to prepare for this job. He will set the barometer for every officer that comes forward. His memory will live with us.”
Members of the Board shared some of their personal experiences and memories of Collier, after which time the members present voted unanimously in favor of the action, sending it on to the state level for final approval.
Joseph Rogers, Collier’s stepfather, then took the podium to express some final thoughts. “Even though he grew up in Wilmington, Sean fell in love with Somerville, and he was very determined to become a police officer here. I think the happiest day of Sean’s life was when he graduated the Police Academy and on his shoulder was a Somerville Police Department badge.”
“I just think this is a great thing and I just want to let you know our family’s appreciation for your putting things in motion to get Sean what he wanted and would have made him complete.”