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July 2008

Detective Eric M. Kovanda

Bloomfield (CT) Police Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Detective Eric M. Kovanda of the Bloomfield (CT) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for July 2008.

Each major television and cable network has a series regarding police cases that, although thoroughly investigated at the onset, went cold. These programs illustrate the tenacity and passion the officers exert, particularly when the case involves a missing child.

In late 2006, Detective Kovanda was assigned to the Connecticut State's Attorney Cold Case Squad. His first assignment was that of a missing fourteen-year-old girl who had been reported missing nine months previously. A primary suspect had been identified shortly after her disappearance; however, he had consistently thwarted efforts of investigators to locate the juvenile. The case stalled as there was little probable cause to proceed without additional evidence of the suspect's involvement.

Detective Kovanda was determined to find the missing teen. He studied the old file notes and sought additional resources from multiple local, state and federal agencies. He sought assistance from local non-governmental agencies and employed the fundamental investigative techniques he had acquired during his eleven years in law enforcement. Finally, on June 16, 2007, Detective Kovanda obtained a search warrant for the suspect's residence. As he had hoped he would, Detective Kovanda and fellow officers found the 14-year-old held hostage in a locked, barricaded crawl space where she had been kept for nearly one year. More than 40 felony charges have been brought against three persons responsible for harboring and molesting the victim. On May 7, 2008, Detective Eric Kovanda was awarded a 2008 National Missing Children's Award by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for his efforts in the investigation and recovery of 14-year-old Danielle Cramer.

Rewind to March 28, 1997, when rookie Officer Eric Kovanda's short law enforcement career came harrowingly close to ending. While responding to a domestic disturbance call, he was shot, suffering wounds to his right hand, wrist, and bicep, all requiring extensive surgery and rehabilitation. Some might have considered a career change after an incident so early in one's career; however, Eric Kovanda knew his time as a law enforcement officer was far from over.

In preparation for his return to duty, Officer Kovanda scored three perfect 300 police pistol qualifications with his off hand. On his first day returning to active duty, his heroism was tested again as he chased down an armed carjacker who had pistol whipped a priest while stealing his car. Officer Kovanda captured the suspect and recovered a loaded, stolen handgun from the suspect's waistband.

He began intensively studying police involved shootings and their psychological and physiological effects. Using his own personal experiences and academic knowledge, Officer Kovanda became a peer counselor for those injured in duty-related injuries. His expertise in this area has become invaluable, and, on several occasions, other departments and agencies have sought his assistance. He is a regular instructor at the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council.

On December 26, 2001, Eric Kovanda was promoted to the rank of Detective. In the fall of 2003, he began working with neighboring Hartford (CT) Police Department detectives after a burned, decomposed body had been discovered in a shallow grave. The primary suspect in the case was unwilling to cooperate with Detective Kovanda. Again, employing extensive resources and exhausting research of phone records and phone cards used by both the victim and the suspect, Detective Kovanda was able to produce a timeline of the victim's movements correlating to the movement patterns exhibited by the suspect. The ensuing investigation led to the arrest of the suspect two years after the death of his victim. While awaiting trial, the suspect was arrested for attempting to hire a hit man to kill Detective Kovanda and members of his family.

A short time later, following this major case, Detective Kovanda was selected to be the first municipal officer in the state to be assigned to the Connecticut Intelligence Center (CTIC). The CTIC was formed as a result of a nationwide effort to improve the exchange of intelligence between law enforcement agencies. Detective Kovanda drafted policies and procedures for the CTIC's operations and assisted in training those who would eventually be assigned to the unit. For his excellent work on improving intelligence sharing, he was awarded the first annual New England States Police Intelligence Network Service Award. Detective Kovanda was additionally recognized for his efforts with the CDIC by Director Robert S. Mueller of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Detective Kovanda continues to serve with the Bloomfield Police Department and is an active member of the Greater Hartford Fraternal Order of Police. He is married and has two children.
 
Located in the nation's capital, the NLEOMF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The NLEOMF Officer of the Month Program began in September 1996 and recognizes federal, state and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.