While most people would run out of a smoke-filled house on fire, a group of Southold Police officers were running in, one pushing his limits to bring a former police chief to safety.
Southold police officer Jacob Bodgen, 25, of Orient Point, was honored as the department’s Officer of the Year after pulling Bob Walden, former Chief of Police of Greenport Village, from his burning home in September.
Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley presented officer Bodgen the award at the Southampton Town Kiwanis Club’s 43rd Annual Police Awards Ceremony Saturday night. Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell was also present to show his support.
At about 2:15 a.m. on Sept. 2, Southold Police dispatch center received word of a burning house. Within a minute of the call officer Bogden, along with officers Frank Lyburd, Frank Rogers, Robert Bopp, and Robert Hasse, arrived at the location — one they were all familiar with, officer Bogden said.
The former chief’s home.
“We need to get him out,” officer Bogden said. It was the only thing running through his mind.
As the officers made their way up a stairwell, they were “immediately turned back by the intense smoke,” Chief Flatley said.
“The smoke was very overwhelming but I ran straight upstairs and I was able to find him,” officer Bogden said. “At first I couldn’t see anything, but by putting on my flashlight I was able to see him on the ground.”
Mr. Walden also suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease, complicating his efforts.
Officer Bogden was able to drag Mr. Walden to the top of the stairs where the other officers were. Together they carried the former chief from the home, Chief Flatley said.
“I’m a firefighter,” officer Bogden said. “So that helps, and adrenaline kind of took over.”
Officer Bogden said he became an officer to help people, and that saving Mr. Walden was “rewarding.”
“I’m very happy that the department chose me,” he said. “Also, it was a team effort. All the other officers helped tremendously.”
Chief Flatley also gave a special thanks to Sergeant Edward Cassidy, who was named Suffolk County Court Officer of the Year for helping a Southold officer in distress.
The Southold officer was by himself, trying to subdue a suspect in the woods. The suspect went after the officer’s gun, Chief Flatley said.
“The guy was definitely going after our officer’s gun, and his help made the difference,” Chief Flatley said. “He was there and came out and supported him, and if he didn’t support him who knows what would have happened.”
Sgt. Cassidy, who has been on the force for 25 years, was in the area and saved the officer in distress.
“He yelled, ‘He’s got my gun,” said Sgt. Cassidy. “I was scared for the cops life and my own. I took immediate action to prevent a tragedy from happening.”
Southold police stood up to applaud as Sgt. Cassidy received his award, presented by Suffolk County Court Chief Thomas Honey.
“It’s a great honor,” Sgt. Cassidy said.