Working Felines: Police Cats 3
It was in 1998 that a handsome black cat first came to the attention of police officers in Hamilton, Massachusetts, after he was struck and seriously injured by a motorist. A local veterinarian patched him up and the officers attempted to reunite him with his previous owners. After placing advertisements to try to trace them, it was discovered eventually that they had cruelly just dumped him in the street, moved out of the Boston suburb of some 8000 residents and relocated to Florida. Consequently, the officers took him in at the station house. They called him Eco, short for the department's Emergency Center Operations.
Although it apparently wasn't love at first sight, Eco soon became 'one of the family'. In addition to serving as the station house's head mouser and official mascot, Eco helped the officers to relieve some of the daily stress that comes with wearing a badge and carrying a gun. He also provided comfort not only to the victims of crime, but to those who had run foul of the law as well. 'Eco wasn't a problem,' said detective Stephen Trepanier. 'Everybody loves pets, and he would kind of calm the situation down here.' Furthermore, it was not unheard of for Eco to crawl into the cells of lawbreakers and fraternise with them. His lack of prejudice was not to be construed to imply that he was soft on crime; on the contrary, his pursuit and apprehension of rodents intent upon fouling the officers' food supplies disproved that notion. Trepanier said the animal could be useful in helping to diffuse tense moments with victims or angry prisoners.
Officers grew accustomed to the cat's daily routine passing in and out of the station with the changing shifts, lapping up donated food and dozing through department meetings. By the time the officers were ready to move into new headquarters in 2007, Eco had become such an important part of their lives that they elected to take him along with them. Possibly the change in scenery could have played a part in what was to happen.
In mid-February 2009 a Hamilton officer was dispatched to the scene of an accident, knowing only that a cat had been struck by a vehicle. The officer soon realised, however, that the victim was the same animal that had woven itself into the day-to-day operations of the department. It seemed he had been struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. So after around 11 years the litter box and dish, which had sat in the corner of their station, were solemnly packed away by Eco's colleagues.
Eco was buried at an undisclosed location near Hamilton Cemetery and several officers later held a small memorial service in his honour. There was no denying, that his passing left a big hole in the officers' lives. 'What they're going to miss is the cat kind of just being around,' said Detective Trepanier 'It's like losing a pet at home.'
Sources: The Boston Channel (page at the Internet Archive) and Cat Defender.