Police Department says goodbye to 3 officers
It was a first for the Johnston Police Department, but after holding a retirement ceremony last Friday at The Bridge at Cherry Hill, Police Chief Richard Tamburini said they would be back.
While the morningâ€™s event was to honor three veteran police officers who were retiring, Tamburini began his remarks with a request.
â€śToday marks one week since the shooting where we saw the professionalism and compassion of first responders who saw firsthand the terrible aftermath of last weekâ€™s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School,â€ť Tamburini said. â€śI ask that we offer our thoughts and prayers for all 26 victims. Please join me in a moment of silence.â€ť
Tamburini then turned the focus to the guests of honor.
â€śThis is an important day, especially for the family, friends and colleagues of Major Raymond Skomin, Detective Richard Almonte and Officer Phil Viens and his partner Bono â€“ all of whom are Johnstonâ€™s finest public servants who will retire from our department,â€ť he said.
Skomin, a 23-year veteran of the Johnston Police, was unable to attend the ceremony, but Almonte and Viens were presented with plaques to commemorate their years of service.
â€śWhen three senior officers decided to retire at the same time, losing them is a real loss,â€ť Tamburini said. â€śThey have served this department and our town with commitment, compassion and fairness for a combined total of 64 years of dedicated service. They have distinguished themselves as ethical leaders of integrity and character.â€ť
Tamburini also told the audience that â€śRay, Richard and Phil have displayed such devotion to duty, I know this decision to retire was a difficult one to make.â€ť
He noted, however, that each officer has the satisfaction of knowing that the safety of Johnston residents is left in good hands.
â€śWe have a great department with some of the most talented and professional officers in the state who will be able to measure up to your high standards,â€ť he said.
Tamburini emphasized that he indeed had the good fortune of working with all three officers and that they have served the town well.
â€śThroughout their careers, they have been the recipients of countless awards and honors,â€ť he said. â€śNot seeing Richard [Almonte] every morning will be a letdown. I hope retirement doesnâ€™t diminish the light of his smile; I will miss his stand at attention salute and his unfailing courtesy, his trust, attention and expertise have delivered results.â€ť
Almonte served the JPD for 21 years. He worked in detectives and was in charge of the juvenile division.
Viens, meanwhile, worked for 20 years as a JPD patrolman. His greatest achievement came when he carried an elderly woman from a burning dwelling to save her life.
â€śI received a heroâ€™s medal for saving a womanâ€™s life. Iâ€™m no hero; I was just doing my job. Let me introduce you to a real lifetime hero â€“ Cecile Viens,â€ť he said. â€śShe took me in when I was young and she gave me a new life. Sheâ€™s my hero ... forever.â€ť
Viens also founded the JPDâ€™s successful Bike Run for Special Olympics that began a profit of $500 15 years ago, and this time around netted more than $30,000.
â€śWe are going to miss Phil,â€ť said Tamburini. â€śHe is a person who knew just what to do to brighten up your day. From being Santaâ€™s Elf [at the Walk with Cops Christmas Party] to saving a womanâ€™s life, he has done it all.â€ť
Viensâ€™ K9 partner, Bono, has assisted local, state and federal agencies with narcotic- and patrol-related operational calls over the course of three years. Bono is the departmentâ€™s second police canine to retire.
Before closing, Tamburini said he has â€śgreat respectâ€ť for the newly retired officers.
â€śGod Bless and it is my hope that each of you continue to enjoy life at its best,â€ť he said.