Local Government and Politics, News

Police Horse ‘Lynn Strong’ honors five officers

The five Lynn Police officers who received the Trooper Hanna Award for bravery, from left, Matthew Coppinger, Josh Seaman, Michael McEachern, John Bernard, and Joshua Hilton stand with Lynn Strong, who was named in their honor, and founder of the Horses (and) Heroes Foundation Skyllar Mullvaney. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — The city’s police department has a horse named after it.

Lynn Strong, the 7-year-old ex-race horse weighing in at 1,200 pounds, is the newest member of the U.S. Park Police Mounted Unit. The horse and his new name were introduced during a ceremony on Saturday in front of the police station, which was put on by The Horses (and) Heroes Foundation as a way to honor five officers who are each a recipient of the Trooper George L. Hanna Award for bravery.

Officers Joshua Hilton, John Bernard, Michael McEachern, Josh Seaman and Matthew Coppinger were celebrated during the event and had a chance to meet the horse named in their honor.

“It’s pretty special,” said Seaman. “It means a lot being able to protect the city of Lynn, where I was born and raised. Knowing this horse will be used for policing makes it even more special.”

Police Chief Michael Mageary said, to his knowledge, this is the first time anyone from the department has had a horse named after them, at least in the time frame he has been on the force. He said the name is a great honor for the officers, the department, and the city.

Skyllar Mullvaney, founder and executive director for the non-profit The Horses (and) Heroes Foundation, said the thoroughbred will go to work as a mounted unit with a department in Washington D.C. Karen Benson, the foundation’s board director, said it took about six months to a year for Lynn Strong to be trained for his new job.

Benson said the situation with Lynn Strong was unique, as the five-year-old foundation usually honors one officer at a time with a name.

“We look at situations and try to reach out to people or departments in areas that don’t have enough exposure to horses,” Benson said. “With all the things going on in the world, law enforcement doesn’t always get the acknowledgement they deserve.”

Lynn Lieutenant Michael Kmiec said, during the ceremony, that this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. He introduced the officers one by one and gave attendees some background information on all five of them.

Hilton is a 14-year veteran of the Lynn department, currently a member of the Patrol Division. He spent time as a member of the Special Response Team and worked temporary assignments with the Drug Task Force and the Criminal Investigation Division. He received a number of awards over the years, but he was honored with the Trooper Hanna Award in 2014.

Bernard is the only officer of the five who is a two-time recipient of the Trooper Hanna Award, receiving it once in 2014 and again in 2017. He is a 12-year member and is considered an asset to the department as a firearms instructor, given his extensive military training as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

McEachern, a department member for nine years, has worked on the Patrol Division, with the Drug Task Force and with Professional Standards as a background investigator. He has received a number of awards over the years, particularly the Trooper Hanna Award in 2017.

Seaman has been with the department for six years and is a current member of the Patrol Division. He was also assigned to the department’s Warrant Squad where he worked with the Massachusetts State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Squad and the U.S. Marshals Service. Along with a slew of awards over the years, he received the Trooper Hanna Award in 2017.

Coppinger joined the department in 2015 and is a veteran of the U.S. Army where he served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Joint Guardian in the Balkans. He continues to serve in the Massachusetts Army National Guard as a Chief Warrant Officer and a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot. He was awarded the Trooper Hanna Award in 2017.

“These officers dedicate their lives to keep others safe,” said Benson. “Every day they stand on the line that separates good and evil … We call these people heroes.”

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