Detective Sergeant Kyle Kassa was named Deputy of the Year at the annual York County Sheriff’s Office awards ceremony Friday, Feb. 9. Shown here are Chief Deputy Jeremy Forbes, York County Sheriff William L. King, Kassa, and jail administrator Major Nathan Thayer. Courtesy photo

ALFRED — York County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Alex Markellos and Kittery Police Officer Ryan Sanford, both members of the county’s regional Special Response Team, have earned Meritorious Service awards for their response to a 2023 situation in a Saco hotel room where it was reported there were hostages inside, including a child.

The two officers breached the door lock but had to overcome a second lock, working partially exposed to those inside the room, said York County Sheriff William L. King. They were able to overcome the lock and the door and cleared furniture that had been put in their way to block entry. They secured the child and a woman, the latter who was uncooperative, removing them from a dangerous situation. Two people, the woman, and a man, were arrested.

This award, and numerous others, were conferred Friday, Feb. 9, at the York County Sheriff’s Office annual ceremony recognizing the work of all divisions — those employed in Police Services, York County Jail, and Civil Process.

“This is an opportunity to highlight and recognize the outstanding work and longevity of our staff – an agency’s staff is its most valuable resource,” said King.

Also earning a Meritorious Service Award was York County Jail Corrections Officer Sarah Janes for her role in successfully resolving a tense situation in a jail pod, when one resident used a handcrafted weapon on another. Janes is credited with placing herself between the aggressor and the victim inmate, stopping the assault, King said.

There were lifesavings awards, commendations, and more.


Kyle Kassa was named Deputy of the Year; Keith Merrifield, Corrections Officer of the Year, and Natalia Morneau, Reserve Corrections officer of the Year.

Kassa, approaching 20 years with the department, holds the rank of detective sergeant and has carried out a number of roles over the years, including a recent stint with the FBI Safe Streets initiative, as a case agent on a number of high profile cases. He was the lead agent on a case in a home invasion designed to rob the homeowner of marijuana and money in the town of York involving gang members, said King. News reports of the incident noted that victim of the home invasion was wounded by a perpetrator’s handgun. One of four people charged was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. As well, Kassa was lead agent on the case involving Kyle Fitzsimons, 39, a Lebanon resident who traveled to Washington, D.C., taking part in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Fitzsimons was sentenced to seven years in federal prison and had been described by prosecutors as “one of the most violent and aggressive” participants.

“Det. Sgt. Kyle Kassa is a consummate professional and we are lucky to have him leading our detective bureau,” said King.

Merrifield, a 24 year veteran of the corrections division, heads the community works program that sees qualified jail residents perform volunteer tasks under his supervision — events like setting up and taking down equipment and for the LaKermesse festival in Biddeford. King said Merrifield is the officer who knows the jail very well and has been able to diagnose and solve building issues. “He has taken ownership of the safe and efficient operation of the jail, evidenced by his interrupting his vacation to return to work to fix the boilers when they stopped working abruptly. His work continues to be extraordinary,” said King.

As reserve corrections officer of the year, Natalia Morneau was recognized for her dedication to duty and knowledge of the court system. “With our current staffing shortage, reserve officers have become vital members of our workforce, consequently, we believe recognizing outstanding work of our part time corrections staff is important,” said York County Jail Administrator Major Nathan Thayer. “I have personally witnessed Reserve Officer Morneau’s outstanding work and ‘get it done’ attitude.” King, when presenting the award, said court personnel will often ask specifically if Morneau is working because of her knowledge of the judicial process.

Lifesavings awards were presented to Corrections Officer Gabriella Carpenter, Sgt. Kurt Martin, Corporal Donovan Cram and CO Faith Blanchette after Carpenter noticed a female jail resident appeared to be in distress. They commenced CPR. The woman was in the throes of an overdose, said King. It took eight doses of Narcan to revive her – and she lived.


In another situation, three new arrestees were brought to the jail, and one collapsed in a holding cell. Sgt. Jason Druin, and COs Ken Hamilton and Keith Seymour came to the resident’s aid. Alfred Rescue was called, and Narcan administered, saving the person’s life. The three officers received Lifesaving Awards.

In Police Services, Deputy Travis Jones was called to the scene where man who was despondent was in the process of trying to take his life. Jones was able to intervene and prevent the act from taking place and was given a Lifesaving Award.

Deputy Alex Markellos received a commendation for stepping in to help a motorcycle crash victim who had sustained a severe injury and, said King was in danger of succumbing. Markellos applied a tourniquet which held until rescue services were able to step in.

Deputies Jason Solomon and Darren Cyr received commendations for their roles in apprehending a man who attempted to enter a parked postal service vehicle with the operator inside. When deputies arrived the man was no longer in the vehicle but talking to someone in a driveway. The deputies learned the suspect was wanted in New Hampshire on several charges, and was a registered sex offender who was prohibited from entering Maine. He ran into a nearby home, but deputies were able to catch up with him.

Commendations were also awarded to deputies Stephen Broy, Troy Chenard, Stephen Gould, Cody Frazier, Sgt. Mathieu Nadeau and to Administrative Clerk Stacy Thistlewood.

York County Jail receptionist Marion Bedard received a commendation as a result of being suspicious of one of the envelopes of legal mail addressed to jail residents she was sorting through.


“Her instincts kicked in,” said King. With proper authorizations given to open the envelope, it was shown to contain illegal drugs.

Other corrections staff receiving commendation included Sgt. Colton Sweeney and COs James Foote, Kara Jones, Melissa Higgins, Jon Simmonds, Matthew Sanborn, Gerry Therrian, Tyler Stone, and John Nardelli.

Civil Process Supervisor Brad Paul received a commendation for his management of the Civil Process Division.

CO Jason Gaudette was awarded the Mathew Baker Award, named in honor of the late chief deputy. Gaudette is reliable, a team player, and demonstrates initiative and professionalism, said King.

Several York County Sheriff’s Office employees were recognized for their years of service.

Gerald Therrian has 35 years of service, Carl Ronco, 30 years and Michael Leary, 25 years. Marking 20 years were Stacy Thistlewood, William Elliot, Jason Gaudette, Eric Daigneault, Richard Lane, Michael Perry, Kelly Burnham, and Colton Sweeney. Fifteen year recipients include Lori Marks, Robert Carr, and Jason Drouin. Receiving five-year honors were Dennis Chagnon, Martin Harmon, Roger Nagy, Brad Paul, and Matthew Fitzgerald.

After the official ceremony, staff and guests were invited to enjoy refreshments.

“I look forward to these events every year because it allows us pause to recognize the outstanding work being done on a daily basis,” said King.

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