PEPPERELL — Dozens of local police officers were joined by brother and sister colleagues from other departments across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in honoring a veteran member of the police department who unexpectedly died while on duty Sunday at police headquarters.
They came to this small Nashoba Valley community Tuesday morning to show respect to Lt. Alan Lessieur.
Lessieur passed away on Sunday, unexpectedly, from a medical emergency. He was on duty at the police station. Lessieur was 60 years old.
As a hearse carrying Lessieur’s body arrived in Pepperell shortly after 11 a.m, activity on Main Street came to a silent halt.
The procession led by Massachusetts State Police and Pepperell Police stopped at the town’s police station. A group of onlookers, which included a handful of the town’s police officers in uniform, respectfully saluted.
Even the noise from the State Police motorcycles fell silent as they paid their respects to their colleague and friend.
After a little more than a minute, the procession continued onward toward the McGaffigan Funeral Home about a quarter of a mile west on Main Street.
Lessieur was a resident of Dracut and had served the town of Pepperell since 1989. Earlier in his career, he was well known as the D.A.R.E. officer and for his cooking abilities at the annual Veterans Breakfast. Throughout his career he had many accomplishments, including in 2018 when he was named the department’s Officer of the Year.
Before that, he worked to the north in Milford, N.H. He was also a veteran of the Air Force before his law enforcement career.
Just past the police station, members of the Pepperell Fire Department gathered at the entrance of the Fitzpatrick Collaborative. A few of the department’s vehicles were parked along the street with their lights flashing.
Fire Chief Brian Borneman said he knew Lessieur and added he was a “great guy.”
In a small community like Pepperell, everybody knows everybody, he said.
After the procession went by, Lessieur’s colleague, Police Sgt. Jay Friend, said he had a big impact on the community he served. He said it had already been a challenge thinking about how the department would carry on without his contributions.
But it was Police Chief David Scott who best summarized his late colleague’s impact on himself, and the department.
“Al was one of a kind. I was an auxiliary officer in 1989 when Al join the force as a full-time officer. He was hilarious. I remember riding with him and most nights that I did my face was sore by the end of the night from laughing for the entire shift. Back then we didn’t have a field training program (which he later started and led), but he would guide young officers. He even helped me study for college exams while we rode together in the cruiser,” Scott recalled.
Scott said Lessieur had a special way with people. “He loved mentoring the younger officers but was also hard on them when he needed to be. I don’t think a morning roll call went by when his laughter couldn’t be heard throughout the building. He would greet someone who needed assistance in our police station lobby and within seconds you could hear laughter.”
Scott said Lessieur was a trusted member of the department. “I knew if I wasn’t at work and Al was the shift supervisor, that things would get done correctly every time. He was a fellow officer that you trusted with your life and you felt safer going to the most dangerous of calls with him by your side,” Scott said.
Lessieur was Pepperell’s second DARE officer, teaching 5th-graders in the early 1990s the dangers of drugs and how to avoid them.
“I took over as DARE officer after he was promoted to sergeant and his shoes were very big to fill. All the teachers, administrators and students loved him. He even started a Sunday afternoon pickup-style basketball league at one of our schools to give kids a safe, healthy option to stay busy. I took that over from him and he continue to play with us on his own time,” Scott said.
In reference to the late selectman and former police officer Bill Greathead who passed away earlier this year, Scott said: “He, like Sergeant Greathead, always volunteered for public events like cooking at the Veterans Breakfast, playing in charity sports and most recently speaking at Sergeant Greathead’s Celebration of Life in June.”
Scott said the police department recently had a change in its command structure that was done for multiple reasons – one major reason was to promote Lessieur to lieutenant to hopefully keep him from retiring.
“He was such a valued member of the department that we knew we needed extra time for him to share his institutional knowledge with the other supervisors. He was so well-respected by his peers that the other supervisors who were eligible for the promotion to lieutenant all declined the opportunity for promotion because they thought Al deserved it most,” Scott said.
Visiting hours for Lessieur will be held in Our Lady of Grace Parish worshipping at St. Joseph’s Church, located at 28 Tarbell St. on Friday, Aug. 13, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. Funeral services and interment will be private.