Lieutenant Duane Lovello
Darien (CT) Police Department
Washington, DC—The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Lieutenant Duane Lovello, of the Darien (CT) Police Department, as its Officer of the Month for November 2000. Recently promoted to his present rank, Lieutenant Lovello is assigned to the department’s Uniform Division where he is a Shift Commander.
He didn’t always want to be a law enforcement officer, but Lieutenant Lovello knew early on that he would find the most fulfillment and personal satisfaction in public service. Thus, shortly after high school, he became a firefighter in his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut. It wasn’t long before he realized that few opportunities for advancement existed in the department, which at the time had only five paid positions. The personal satisfaction he sought certainly came with the job, but he felt he could do more. When the police department in the neighboring town of Darien began recruiting police officers, Lieutenant Lovello jumped at the opportunity. For the past 19 years has served the people of Darien with distinction in the department’s Uniform Division, as well as in the Detective Bureau. He is the Officer in Charge of the Underwater Recovery Team and is the department’s hostage negotiator.
Those familiar with Fairfield County, know Darien to be a quiet, affluent town with tree-lined streets, where the crime rate is low and the residents feel safe and secure. But, for a police officer, trouble is never more than a call away. Just before dawn on March 3, 1984, then-Officer Lovello responded to one of those calls. It was a burglar alarm at a local restaurant. Knowing that the element of surprise would be in his favor, he entered the area swiftly without sirens or flashing lights. He concealed himself behind hedges at the rear of the restaurant, and waited for the suspects to exit the building. As he waited, it was difficult for him to forget that just prior to his joining the force, another Darien police officer responded to a burglar alarm at that very same restaurant-with tragic consequences. On that date, May 31, 1981 the security of Darien was shattered when Officer Kenneth Bateman was shot and killed while responding to the exact same call.
Officer Lovello forced himself to forget that the suspect wanted for the murder of Officer Bateman was still at large. Rather he concentrated on the task at hand and made the arrest without firing his weapon and without injury to himself or to the suspected criminal. His actions resulted in the recovery of approximately $5,000 in proceeds from the burglary and earned him his first of many department commendations.
By 1988 Officer Lovello had so distinguished himself that he was assigned to the department’s detective bureau. That summer an armed robber victimized commuters at the Darien Railroad Station and was able to flee the area in a vehicle driven by an accomplice. After four months of intensive investigation, Detective Lovello and the investigative team, which included officers from other nearby departments, were able to apprehend and arrest the gunman and his accomplice. Detective Lovello’s reputation as a top-notch investigator resulted in his being elected the President of the Fairfield County Detective’s Conference, an interdepartmental information sharing organization in southern Connecticut. His file is filled with letters of appreciation, much like that received from the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Rhode Island in December 1994, commending Detective Lovello for assisting in the apprehension and conviction of a murder suspect.
Lieutenant Lovello believes that you can always find time to do things that are important to you, your family and your community. Knowing that higher education would benefit every aspect of his life, he returned to school and in 1994, received his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Law in October 1998. He has recently passed the Connecticut State Bar Exam.
Out for a drive with his young son one cold morning in February 1999, Lieutenant Lovello pulled into the Old Mine Park in Trumbull, Connecticut. He had driven by the park hundreds of times before without stopping, but on that particular morning felt the need to check it out. As he drove into the parking lot, he noticed a dog out on the frozen Pequonnock River, and a woman on shore trying to coax him back to her. The dog, an Australian cattle dog named Armani, fell through and immediately his frantic owner, Nicole Santorelli walked out onto the thin layer of ice to save her dog. Within seconds Ms. Santorelli was in six to eight feet of water, and paralyzed by fear and the freezing temperature.
Knowing that he had nothing in his car that could help him reach the young woman, Duane Lovello says now that he did “what anyone would have done”, and waded into the frigid water up to his thighs. He encouraged her to keep kicking her legs and to extend to him the baseball cap she was wearing. The cap’s strap held and he was able to pull her to safety. Lovello credits his training as a member of his department’s scuba diving team for his part in the rescue, but states that Ms. Santorelli’s determination to save her pet was inspiration for him as well. Both Ms. Santorelli and Armani recovered quickly from the ordeal. Lieutenant Lovello has been a member of the department’s scuba diving team for 16 years. Recently a dive he participated in recovered a large stash of jewelry, evidence used in a burglary conviction.
Lieutenant Lovello received his hostage negotiation training through a program administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Earlier this year he spent more than 10 hours negotiating with an individual who had fired at least two shots inside his home. The man had a long history of emotional problems had threatened to take his own life. Chief of Police Hugh McManus of the Darien Police Department acknowledged that Lieutenant Lovello played a crucial role in the ultimate resolution of this situation in which no one was injured.
Lieutenant Lovello is married and is the father of two young sons. In testimony to his commitment to public service, Lieutenant Lovello continues to serve as a volunteer member of the Glenbrook Fire Department.
Chief McManus says of Lieutenant Lovello, “I would like to point out that his 19 years of service to the Darien Police Department have been outstanding in every respect. Lieutenant Lovello has consistently subscribed to only the highest standards of excellence in the performance of his duties.” Of his colleague, Sergeant John Lawlor states, “Clearly an individual dedicated to family and community, Lieutenant Lovello embodies the ideals of service above self.”
The Police Unity Tour is the official sponsor of the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Program.