Orange officer promoted to sergeant, others commended for seizing illegal guns

  • Orange Police Sgt. Adam Cooley was sworn into his new role during Wednesday night’s Selectboard meeting by Town Clerk Nancy Blackmer. Courtesy photo/ORANGE POLICE DEPARTMENT

  • Orange Police Officer Travis Rushford, right, was awarded a Division Commander’s Award by the Massachusetts State Police Wednesday for assisting State Police Trooper Rabello, center, in getting drugs and a handgun with a defaced serial number off the street. With the two officers, at left, is State Police Col. Christopher Mason. Courtesy photo/ORANGE POLICE DEPARTMENT

Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2019 10:41:09 PM
Modified: 12/5/2019 10:40:58 PM

ORANGE — An Orange Police Department officer was promoted to the rank of sergeant, two others received letters of commendation and a third was honored by the Massachusetts State Police.

The Selectboard meeting Wednesday night highlighted the hard work of local police, specifically recognizing officers who have gotten illegal firearms off the street this year.

Orange Police’s Adam Cooley pledged to enforce the law while being sworn in as sergeant by Town Clerk Nancy Blackmer.

The meeting opened with remarks from Police Chief James Sullivan, himself having been promoted to chief from sergeant earlier this year.

“Today, myself and retired Officer Clay Rushford went to Framingham, so his son, Travis, could receive a Division Commander’s Award at the State Police headquarters,” Sullivan said with pride.

According to Sullivan, back in April, Officer Travis Rushford backed up a State Police trooper on Route 2 during a traffic stop that ended with an arrest. Drugs and an illegal firearm were confiscated.

“With that trooper, he ended up taking a gun with a scratched-off serial number, a bunch of drugs and a bunch of money out of that car,” Sullivan said.

It wasn’t the only example of Orange Police seizing a firearm this year.

In September, Sullivan said, Officer Chris Bisceglia received a tip about a fight planned in Orange between Athol and Orange youth.

What was more concerning about the tip, Sullivan said, was that a youth involved in the planned fight had a gun in his backpack, and was at soccer game at Ralph C. Mahar Regional School.

“Officers (Ben) Kovacevic and Bisceglia got on the scene and as they were figuring out what to do, making their plan, they saw the person of interest leaving the game,” Sullivan said.

“It was a soccer game, so there were a lot of people there between Athol and Orange,” he added. “They encountered him, they were able to take immediate control of the situation, they were able to safely search him. They found a stolen, loaded .45 (caliber) handgun in his backpack.”

According to Sullivan, that case is still going to court. The person with the gun was a male student at Mahar, but Sullivan said more details could not be given since the student is a juvenile.

“(Officers Kovacevic and Bisceglia) were able to take control and safely defuse an extremely dangerous and extremely volatile situation,” said Sullivan, presenting copies of their letters of commendation to the Selectboard.

After delivering the news, Sullivan introduced Orange Police Officer — now sergeant — Adam Cooley, announced Cooley’s promotion and pinned Cooley’s gold sergeant badge on him.

“It’s an honor to be able to pin this badge on you today,” Sullivan said. “You have gained my respect and the respect of the entire Orange Police Department.”

Cooley graduated from Mahar, and has worked for the Barre and Athol police departments, in addition to Orange.

“I look forward to working with you as a sergeant,” said Sullivan, before joking, “And you have some nice big broad shoulders, where I’m going to be able to pile a whole bunch of work.”

Selectboard member Bill Wrigley recognized the local police, calling police work an often “thankless job” that is “invaluable to civil society.”

“There’s a unique and uncommon devotion to purpose that you’ve got to possess in order to spend a career doing what they do, which is to protect our public safety,” Wrigley said. “The town of Orange should be very proud to have officers like this and others in our community.”

Reach David McLellan at or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.

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