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SHIRLEY — Police Officer Samuel Santiago, who was named “Top Cop” for helping to rescue a Shirley woman from her burning home, has been promoted to sergeant.

The ceremony took place Nov. 1 before a meeting of selectmen.

Santiago started his law-enforcement career in 1990 as a private security guard, a campus police officer at colleges in Worcester and Boston and as a security officer at Devens. He became a reserve officer on the Shirley Police Department in 2003 and was hired full-time in 2006.

He graduated from the reserve Police Academy in 1997 and from the full time Police Academy in Lowell in 2006. He has received several certifications and was honored for bravery. Last year, he received a “Top Cop” award for helping rescue a Shirley woman from a burning building, saving her life.

Santiago took the sergeants exam in September, and scored highest among five officers. A committee of three police chiefs interviewed and unanimously voted for Santiago to be promoted, based on the test and other factors.

Selectmen, acting on the recommendation of Police Chief J. Gregory Massak, unanimously voted to promote Santiago, one of three in the department to hold that rank. He joins Sgt. Peter Violette and Sgt. Alfreda Cromwell.

Selectman David Swain was on the screening committee when Santiago was hired. “He has impressed us ever since,” he said.

Santiago’s uncle, Angel Rosario, director of public safety for the Worcester Housing Authority, pinned on his sergeant’s badge. “He always wanted to be a police officer,” Rosario said of his nephew. “I’m very proud of him.”

Dennis Rafferty, a retired officer, said he was proud, too, as a friend and former colleague who has known Santiago for 20 years and helped train him for his first job in law enforcement.

“I have never seen anyone so dedicated,” he said. “He has the highest standards.”

After Town Clerk Amy McDougall swore him in, Santiago thanked a room full of friends, family members and fellow officers for coming and credited his uncle — whose law-enforcement career spans 30 years — for inspiring him to become a police officer. He also said his success dates back to a “strict” mom who helped him from the start.

Citing the helpful example set by his supervisors, Violette and Cromwell, he said he plans to do the same. “I want to lead by example,” he said.