Sergeant Steven Melaragno, Providence (RI) Police Department
Sergeant Steven Melaragno of the Providence, Rhode Island Police Department, is NRA's 1999 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, not just for his accomplishments over the last 12 months, but for a 22-year career of tireless and effective activism in the preservation of our Second Amendment rights.
Like many police officers, Sergeant Melaragno came from a family where responsible gun ownership was a priority. His father, Pasquale Melaragno, is a retired Providence police officer, former coach of the M.I.T. pistol team, and a winner of NRA's Distinguished College Coach of the Year Award.
Following in his father's footsteps, Steven was appointed to the Providence Police Department in August 1978, and later became the department's firearm instructor and armorer. In Providence, it is the police armorers duty to review firearm purchase applications for compliance with the waiting period and background checks. Sergeant Melaragno has been praised for "going the extra mile" to ensure that approvals and rejections are made according to the letter of the law, and that no one is denied the right to purchase a firearm without a valid, legal reason.
He has also been instrumental in defeating many anti-gun bills introduced in Rhode Island, going so far as to testify before the Senate and House in numerous public hearings -- the only active police officer to do so in many cases.
In 1993, Melaragno was appointed to a committee formed by the mayor of Providence, to propose legislation to combat gun violence in the city. Judges, lawyers, city officials, and the police chief were also on the committee. While various gun bans and gun restrictions were discussed, Melaragno was able to convince the committee that the illegal use of guns was the real problem. Working closely with the Rhode Island State Rifle and Revolver Association, Melaragno submitted a proposal calling for tough enforcement, no plea bargaining, and short court dates for offenders. At Melaragno's urging, NRA's offer to provide input on the final bill was accepted by the mayor and the bill passed.
Sergeant Melaragno's long record of service, his commitment to public safety and his personal commitment to protecting the Second Amendment exemplify the finest qualities of American police officers. NRA takes great pride in naming him our Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
The NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award was established in 1993 and recognizes exceptional Valor, Public Service, or Dedication to the Principles of our Constitutional Heritage.