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MANCHESTER, NH – As always, New Hampshire Fisher Cats fans got way more than their money’s worth June 7, as each and every game includes a segment where the community is the focus and special events abound – whether it’s birthday kids tossing pitches from the mound, community music groups showcasing their talents, a fun encounter with Fungo, the team mascot, or local heroes honored for their service.
On Sunday, it was all that and more at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium during Law Enforcement Day, as the crowd gathered under clear skies not only for the Sunday matinee against Richmond Flying Squirrels, but to honor slain Brentwood Patrolman Steve Arkell, and to see Manchester Police Chief David Mara receive the annual Officer Michael Briggs Community Hero Award.
Pre-game entertainment included several tunes by members of the NH Police Association Pipes and Drums; a medley of “America the Beautiful” by the Derry Village School choir, led by Pat Sullivan; and a police motorcycle parade.
Mara donned a custom jersey delivered by Fisher Cats staffers and threw out the ceremonial first pitch, an honor he shared with Officer Arkell’s daughters, Kimberly and Lauren Arkell, who opted to hurl pitches over the plate using lacrosse sticks, a nod to their dad, who was a dedicated high school lacrosse coach.
Fisher Cats Mike Ramshaw, Senior VP of Sales, introduced the main event, which was the presentation of the Community Hero Award to Chief David Mara.
“We show our appreciation for all the great men and women who serve and protect our communities. They don’t seek attention or praise for doing their jobs, but it is appropriate for us as civilians to thank them for their hard work and dedication,” said Ramshaw, leading the crowd in a round of applause.
Ramshaw explained the award, named for Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs, who was killed in the line of duty in 2006, is given annually to a recipient who displays dedication to community service.
Assistant Chief Nick Willard, who has been named as Mara’s successor, joined Mara at the podium for a few words of thanks as they also acknowledged Officer Arkell, whose family was in attendance for the baseball game. Arkell was killed while answering a domestic call in 2014.
Willard said he and Mara were honored to be able to celebrate the life of Officer Arkell in the presence of his family.
“We mourn his passing and celebrate his life; what an amazing person he was in his community,” Willard said.
Willard then shifted gears and presented Mara with the Briggs Award.
“Chief Mara has taken the Manchester Police Department to places it’s never seen before. I often say he’s given me the keys to a shiny new Cadillac and all I gotta do is not wrap it around a tree,” Willard said. “In honor of you chief, and all you’ve done for the city of Manchester, this is for you – for not only being a cop’s cop, but a chief’s chief.”
Mara thanked Willard, saying of Willard that he leaves the department with a sense of “peace” knowing “we have somebody who will take the Manchester Police to the next level.”
The pre-game ceremony concluded with a giant American flag unfurled by Belmont Police Explorers a & Windham baseball/softball team members as honor guards from both NH State Police and Manchester police took the field.
After a moment of silence for all fallen officers, the National Anthem was performed by students from Bedford’s Riddle Brook Elementary School.