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2015 NH Congressional Award

Chief Michael Fitzgerald

The Brattleboro Police Department was recently recognized by the New Hampshire Congressional delegates for their response to Keene, NH during the October 2014 Pumpkin Fest riots.

The letter from Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office read in part, “The Brattleboro Police Department displayed tremendous courage during the events of October 18th, 2014 when responding to the rioters in Keene, New Hampshire. Your department’s participation helped defuse this dangerous situation and was recognized by the New Hampshire law enforcement community when they nominated and selected your department for this award.”

The annual Keene Pumpkin Festival, a family oriented event, was one of the largest organized events in the State of New Hampshire.  Preparation for the event was a year-long planning process and involved not only public safety personnel from the City of Keene, but from all over New Hampshire.

Public Safety planning was a critical component, requiring numerous police, fire, EMS, and others to ensure the family event was secure and that personnel were on hand to respond to any emergency that may present.

On October 18, 2014, the event took place with more than 100 law enforcement personnel scheduled in shifts to ensure the safety and security plan was carried out.  At approximately noontime, large groups of college-aged persons began to congregate into what would become a riot on the perimeter of the Pumpkin Festival area, lasting more than 9 hours and requiring the response of more than 135 additional law enforcement personnel from around the State, Vermont, and Massachusetts; a total law enforcement response of 235.

Numerous Fire and EMS personnel responded to assist with injuries and medical emergencies resulting from the riots. 

Law Enforcement personnel, while containing the riot and keeping it from impacting the Pumpkin Festival footprint, were subjected to having bottles, rocks, and other debris thrown at them.  Fires were started in the middle of streets and large amounts of property damage occurred as a result of vandalism and other like acts.

It was the response of those already on scene, and those who came to assist, that ensured the protection of some estimated 70,000 people who were enjoying the festival, completely unaware of what was occurring just blocks away.

Brattleboro Police Chief Michael Fitzgerald said, “We were pleased have been able to assist the Keene Police with protecting the guests of their city.  Small and medium sized agencies such as ours rely heavily on each other to manage larger and more significant incidents.  We have always enjoyed a great working relationship with Keene PD and were happy to help.  BPD officers are well trained to respond to such emergencies quickly and were able to join the larger law enforcement team that provided much needed help.”

This event is one of the largest organized law enforcement and public safety responses in the history of the State. The professional conduct and leadership displayed by all involved resulted in a successful conclusion to an otherwise devastating event.

There were 31 agencies that responded to this event and they were recognized for their extraordinary display of unit skill and teamwork by being awarded the 2015 New Hampshire Congressional Law Enforcement Unit Citation Award.

Accepting the award on behalf of the members of the Brattleboro Police Department were Chief Michael Fitzgerald and Captain Mark Carignan.