Hanrahan receives state award for dedication to duty

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, University of Rhode Island Community Policing Liaison, Officer Paul Hanrahan, was honored during the men’s basketball game as this week’s “hometown hero.” Familiar with accolades, Officer Hanrahan was also recently recognized by the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association and awarded their first individual Community Policing Award on Dec. 13, 2017.

Officer Hanrahan has been with the URI Police Department for nearly 13 years and was assigned to his current position as Community Policing Liaison two years ago. “Our philosophy on community policing is to get as involved as possible with the entire community to make it a safer place to work and live,” Officer Hanrahan said.

“Initially, I issued the challenge of being creative, coming up with progressive community policing programs and working with the community effectively for a positive difference,” Major Michael Jagoda explained, “and Paul took that challenge and went and started right off with the food truck.”

“We adopted the food truck idea as a way to interact with students and staff,” explained Officer Hanrahan. “People wouldn’t normally come up and talk to a police officer, so when you break the barrier with food you’re able to build up a rapport.”

Free hotdogs are not the only way in which officers are more visible on campus. URIPD has held 192 innovative events in the past two years for student and police relations. One program students may have noticed is the bike squad, run by Officer Hanrahan.  

Proud of the work Officer Hanrahan has done in his position, Major Jagoda teased Officer Hanrahan saying, “He really rejuvenated our bike program. I know he’s getting a little bit older and can’t manually pedal so he likes the motor assist; it’s never easy for him.”

Major Jagoda and Public Safety Directory Stephen Baker nominated Officer Hanrahan for the community policing award, sending letters to the Police Chiefs Association. “He saw the need to interact with our community members and help them with their concerns,” explained Major Jagoda. “He came up with a lot more creative programs with our Rhody Outpost food pantry and brought it to a new level.”

“What happens when you run a food drive is that you can’t get everything you’re looking for through donations,” said Officer Hanrahan. “For instance, you get 200 cans of beets, what are you going to do with 200 cans of beets? So this year we switched it up and ran a raffle to collect money so they can buy the food items they need.”

“He started off getting involved with the programs, saw the potential of them, and brought them to new heights,” said Major Jagoda. The 2017 URIPD holiday toy drive collected over 5,000 unwrapped toys and affected over seven social services providers, Hasbro Hospital and a majority of those in need in South County.

Officer Hanrahan mentors other officers and departments about the importance of the community policing philosophy both on and off campus. He received his credentials from homeland security and has become an active shooter instructor to our officers as well as officers in South Kingston and at Brown University.

Through his positive effect in the local community, Officer Hanrahan was honored as the “hometown hero” in the Ryan Center at Tuesday’s basketball game. “They organized it with my wife,” explained Officer Hanrahan, “and being the great detective that I am, I never picked up on it.”

Officer Hanrahan recounts working his post behind the home team’s bench guarding Coach Hurley when the Ryan Center crew approached him saying they needed his help. “I said ‘sure what do you need’ and they said ‘you see that camera over there? In 10 seconds you’re going to have to go out onto the floor because you’re the hometown hero for tonight’s game.’”

“I could literally feel my face becoming redder by the minute,” said Officer Hanrahan on being on camera as the announcers read a brief statement about him and his accomplishments.

After the spotlight, Officer Hanrahan talked with his wife who had known, “I asked her what she was doing and she said, ‘no you deserve it, you put a lot of effort into it and I think you should be recognized,’ and it was a great honor being out there, but I don’t do it for that reason.”

“I enjoy doing it and I enjoy the work,” said Officer Hanrahan, “I think it’s making a positive change, I know a lot of students by name and face, and I think it’s becoming a safer campus.”

“I guess I’m on the hook now to try and come up with something new,” Officer Hanrahan said in regards to all the recent praise for community policing. “The Major says all the time that he wants us to be the leaders not the followers in terms of what other departments are doing.”