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MAWLE Awards Recognize 24 Women For Exceptional Accomplishments In Law Enforcement

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The Executive Board of the Massachusetts Association of Women in Law Enforcement (MAWLE) is pleased to recognize this year's Spirit of MAWLE Award honorees and their exceptional accomplishments and contributions.

The 2024 Spirit of MAWLE Awards was held on Thursday, June 20, at the Irish Cultural Centre in Canton.

Six women were honored in the award categories of leadership, excellence in performance, mentoring, community service, courage, and civilian achievement. An additional 18 women received special recognition certificates.

Wellesley Police Lieutenant and MAWLE President Marie Cleary welcomed everyone by reminding them about the first Spirit of MAWLE Awards ceremony held in 2012, which were in memory of Trooper Ellen E. Englehardt who passed away the year prior following a 23-year career with the Massachusetts State Police.

"Since that first year, we have continued to celebrate the significant achievements of women in law enforcement with an annual awards ceremony," she said. "It has been my great pleasure over the past several years to meet some of the most remarkable women in the field of law enforcement through this award ceremony and to watch the number of nominations submitted for consideration continue to grow.

The Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office Color Guard and Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums opened the program. Cambridge Police Deputy Superintendent Pauline Wells sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In her keynote address, Boston Municipal Court Chief Justice Tracy-Lee Lyons told the crowd women make up just 12 percent of law enforcement in the country and 3 percent of police leadership.

“Despite this historic underrepresentation, countless women have overcome barrier after barrier to become pioneers in the fields of law enforcement,” she said. “We must all strive to increase those numbers by supporting fellow women in law enforcement and civilian positions, and helping each other and those that follow in our footsteps.”

Maeve Rose Stipkovich, a 2024 Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School graduate, received the Lt. June Murphy Scholarship, which she will use to study criminal justice at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Award winners are:

Leadership: Director Janice Perez, Massachusetts Department of Corrections

This award recognizes a woman who distinguishes herself through superior accomplishments or continuing long-term involvement, and using leadership skills that make a significant contribution within the agency or to the law enforcement mission.

As the Director of the Division of Staff Development for the Massachusetts Department of Correction, Perez oversees all aspects of training for the department’s 4,500 staff members. She was instrumental in the development of the Leadership Summit, which helps prepare emerging leaders and assists with succession planning. She and her team also developed the first LEAD (Leadership Encompasses Achievement and Dedication) program that will encompass six months of mentoring for prospective managers.

As the Director of the Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Director Perez also oversees the Mentor/Protégé Program, the Commissioner's Diversity Advisory Committee, all hiring packages for the agency, exit interviews, all ADA accommodations, diversity reports (quarterly and annually), the Women in Corrections Program and department-wide training in civility and diversity.

Director Perez has worked tirelessly with the Boulder Crest Foundation to bring the "Struggle Well" Program to the Department to help change the agency's culture. Due to her efforts with this initiative, the Massachusetts Department of Correction is currently the only state correctional department in the country to have this program.

Excellence in Performance: Det. Marivelle Crespo, Boston Police Department

This award recognizes a woman in law enforcement who distinguishes herself through superior attention to duty or outstanding investigative effort, which leads to the identification, location or arrest of a major criminal or criminal activity.

Detective Crespo’s initiative, devotion for duty, sound judgment, professional

knowledge, and keen insight into numerous problems has contributed immeasurably to the effectiveness of the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit.

She joined the Human Trafficking Unit in 2021 and quickly became a recognized leader in the field. Her application of intelligence, sound principles, and mature judgment has earned the respect of her peers and she is a sought-after resource throughout the state. In the last year, Det. Crespo was assigned several complex investigations and her willingness to take on these assignments resulted in over 40 indictments featuring many heinous crimes.

Mentoring: Lt. Susan Murphy Survillo, Massachusetts DCR Park Rangers/Mounted Unit

This award honors a woman who distinguishes herself with her support and assistance to other women in law enforcement, development of programs or policies favorable to women, and/or serving on committees or organizations that review women’s issues.

Those who nominated Lt. Survillo say her knowledge, wisdom, and empathy have lifted them from some of the most difficult times. And they speak of her kindness, love, and selflessness.

A fierce protector of the department’s Mounted Unit she has also provided knowledge and guidance to others looking to start mounted units, inviting colleagues to visit the DCR stables in Canton

She understands the immeasurable value a mounted unit brings to law enforcement, the positive image it creates for the agency, the connection to the community, with disabled children and with everyone. She is a true mentor’s mentor, as one described her.

Community Service: Off. Meghan Jenkins, Dedham Police Department

This award recognizes a woman who distinguishes herself through superior accomplishments by developing, designing, implementing and participating in programs involving communities and law enforcement, which include neighborhoods, schools, community meetings and businesses.

Officer Jenkins, who has been assigned as the primary SRO to the Dedham Middle School and handler of the Community Resources Dog, regularly demonstrates that she can be depended on to do her job independently and always goes beyond to serve the community.

When the Department emphasized foot patrols in and around public housing, and seniors expressed concern due to early morning activity in a particular development, Officer Jenkins made it a habit to walk around early in the morning when assigned to the overnight shift. Residents commented on seeing a female officer walking around during early mornings, which made them feel safer.

SRO Jenkins became involved with organizing and expanding Department events focused on students, including a program that supports students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disabilities and related disorders, and a Buddies vs. Badges charity basketball game to benefit Dedham’s Best Buddies. She is one of three Department instructors on the Project Lifesaver program, has provided gift cards to students in need for holiday shopping, and visits with the Town Nurse to offer resources to those affected by substance abuse.

Courage: Off. Molly Plante, Berlin Police Department (now Framingham Police)

This award recognizes a woman who has distinguished herself by an act of bravery or heroism, at risk of their own personal safety or in the face of great danger, above and beyond the call of duty.

On April 14, 2023, Officer Plante responded to a call for a house explosion and was the first on scene. Neighbors, standing atop of a pile of debris that was once a standing house, called for Officer Plante’s assistance. They had located one of the two victims and were breaking through the debris to get to her as the fire grew.

Officer Plante placed the victim over her shoulder and maneuvered through the fire and across live electric lines, carrying them to safety. A second major explosion left the house in pieces just as Officer Plante placed the victim down behind her cruiser.

Civilian Achievement: Christina LaRose, Foxborough Police Department

This award recognizes a civilian within the law enforcement field who distinguishes herself through outstanding achievements and who has gone above and beyond to support, promote and enhance the criminal justice profession.

LaRose, the Foxborough Police Department’s Public Safety Clinician, works with the police and fire departments to provide clinical social work services to residents and visitors. She has helped modernize the town’s public safety departments by proactively creating new databases for data tracking, which has helped the department analyze calls for service so that they could better apply resources. She attends trainings related to police or fire work to expand her already impressive base of knowledge, and generously works an off-hours schedule while never declining to come while off-duty to help with a call She is currently helping the department establish a human trafficking team and is a fierce advocate for those who have been affected by both domestic and sexual violence.

According to colleagues, LaRose goes above and beyond on a consistent basis, by responding to crisis calls in real time, and always following up with officers and civilians.

In addition, the following were awarded Special Recognition certificates: Sgt. Christine DeFelice, Salem State University Police Department; Criminalist Rebecca Boissaye, Boston Police Department; Sgt. Detective Amyleigh DeVito, Boston Police Department; Sgt. Det. Amy Erlandson, Boston Police Department; Officer Ayesha Lawton, Boston Police Department; Sgt. Lauren Strong, Tewksbury Police Department; Officer Lylana Jones-Henderson, Boston Police Department; Officer Milady Figueroa, Haverhill Police Department; Sgt. Diana Wells,Yarmouth Police Department; Criminalist Alexis Flaherty, Boston Police Department; Chief Detective Clerk Sylvia Zayas, Boston Police Department; Assistant Team Leader Amy Gilliland, Massachusetts TERT; Analyst Jennifer Bencivenga, Boston Police Department; Officer Katie Appel, Norfolk Police Department; Deputy Superintendent Pamela Harris, Boston Police Department; Superintendent Therese Kozmiski, Boston Police Department; Officer Mary Legacy, Boston Police Department; Officer Tana DiCenso, Wellesley Police Department.