As the national spotlight continues to shine on Watertown, the suburban town now known for the manhunt that unfolded after the Boston Marathon bombing, residents are feeling a newfound pride.
“Whenever we used to go out of town and people asked us where we’re from, we used to say Boston,” Police Chief Edward Deveau said at last week’s Town Council meeting, to appreciative laughter from councilors and audience members. “Well, no more. Everyone knows where Watertown is now.”
After the violent shootout early on April 19 between police and the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, and then a daylong search for Dzhokhar that ended with his arrest, Americans across the country now recognize Watertown and its central role in the drama.
Deveau said that although the recognition for his officers came in the aftermath of a terrible tragedy, he feels proud that his department has been receiving applause from nationwide dignitaries, beloved local sports teams, and the residents the Police Department serves.
He said the department provided a Watertown Police hooded sweatshirt to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, which the football coach received in time to wear during last week’s NFL draft.
“That’s no joke,” the chief said after the meeting, clearly amused.
An official “Watertown Strong” shirt is being sold by Three Twins Productions, a local screen-printing company. Watertown officers were among those honored at a recent Red Sox baseball game, and were invited to a Boston Bruins hockey game.
Police officers from Watertown also met with Vice President Joe Biden at the memorial service Wednesday for a Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus police officer, Sean Collier, allegedly killed by the bombing suspects, Deveau said.
The officers directly involved in the violent shootout were given the most time with the vice president.
“He was a real gentleman,” Deveau said of Biden. “He told the officers that he followed events on TV, heard how the situation was described, and commended them on how they handled it.”
At the meeting Wednesday night, Town Council president Mark Sideris also praised the first responders, including Fire Chief Mario Orangio, and the Department of Public Works director, Gerald Mee.
“We as a town will have an appropriate ceremony at an appropriate time,” Sideris promised the room. “We’re extremely proud of your efforts, and we’re all proud to call Watertown our home.”