NEW BEDFORD _ The event honoring two New Bedford police officers for their sacrifice and dedication began with  moment of silence for a young officer killed Thursday, April 12, in the line of duty.  

The death of New Bedford native and Yarmouth Police Officer Sean Gannon while serving a warrant was a tragic reminder of the dangers that police officers face every day and the sacrifices they are required to make as part of their dedication to the public they serve.

Officer Gannon "didn't dream that yesterday would be his last day,'' Mayor Jon Mitchell said. "But such is the nature of police work.''

 "Today's honorees are prime examples of officers who did things beyond their job description,'' Mayor Mitchell said. "Our city is grateful for their extra efforts. They set a great example.''

 At the award ceremony held Friday, April 13, Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro described the honorees as "two great men who represent a great department.''

 Capt. Dennis Ledo received a life-saving award for jumping into the frigid waters off West Beach March 2 and rescuing a man from a submerged vehicle.

The man had been driving south on West Rodney French Boulevard when his car veered off the road and ended up in the waters of Clarks Cove.

 Capt. Ledo was named commander of station 2 in the south end less than a week before his courageous act.

 Capt. Ledo, who happened to be driving by at the time, immediately jumped into the water to help the man exit his vehicle and lead him safely to shore. He was dressed in his work uniform and had no wet suit or other equipment used for cold water diving.

"Without any thought for himself, he took off his gear and jumped in, because there was a human being in the water,'' Chief Joseph Cordeiro said. "The man is alive today because of the efforts of Capt. Ledo.''

Capt. Ledo is a 24-year veteran of the New Bedford Police Department.

 He worked eight years in the narcotics division, including assignments with the district attorney's office and the Drug Enforcement Agency. He worked as a school resource officer for 18 months and as the director of the professional standards division for four years.

 He was promoted to sergeant in 2010, to lieutenant in 2012 and to captain in 2016. He began working as commander of station 2 in the south end Feb. 25.

The chief also presented Det. Gene Fortes with the chief's award for his collection and distribution of hundreds of thousands of pounds of supplies for survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last August.

 Under his direction and with support from community leaders, a collection drive was held at the parking lot of police headquarters on Rockdale Avenue. Thanks to the public's overwhelming generosity, two teams visited the island with a total of 300,000 pounds of supplies. 

 He personally visited Puerto Rico to ensure that all donations were provided where they were most needed. He was able to provide supplies to 4,000 families in 19 towns in Puerto Rico.

 Det. Fortes has been a member of the New Bedford Police Department since 2000. The 18-year veteran has worked at stations 2, 3 and headquarters. He has worked in uniform patrol, in the domestic violence unit and as a school resource officer. Since 2013, he has been a detective.

 Det. Fortes grew up in Puerto Rico and came to the continental U.S. at age 18 to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has lived here since.

- New Bedford Police Department

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