TRA Police Award for 2016 Sponsored by Roosevelt & Cross, Inc.
This prestigious award is presented annually to a police officer who has overcome a handicap, as Theodore Roosevelt triumphed over the physical handicaps of his youth, and who continues to render outstanding service to his/her police department, as Roosevelt did in his years as president of the Board of Police Commissioners of New York City. The award is presented annually in Western New York, New York City, Long Island, Boston, Dallas, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. This year’s recipient is Captain Eric L. Laughton of the New York State Police.
Captain Laughton was appointed to the rank of Trooper with the New York State Police in March 1989 and was subsequently promoted to Sergeant in July 1997. He received an appointment to Investigator in January 1998 and promoted to Lieutenant in March 2005. In addition to his work in law enforcement, Captain Laughton also serves in the New York Air National Guard. On February 5, 2010, Captain Laughton was performing his military drill weekend with the Air Force at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Schenectady, New York when he developed an intestinal blockage and perforation and then suffered from septic shock. The perforation was surgically repaired, but he incurred a life threatening infection. All of his life systems – heart, lungs, liver and kidney - began shutting down. He also experienced acute respiratory distress syndrome, and during surgery he slipped into a coma and was placed on life support. The doctors did not give his family members much hope. Miraculously, the life support was removed 13 days later and he regained consciousness. While in the hospital, he lost 42 pounds as well as the ability to walk and talk. Doctors advised him that it would take at least a full year to recover. Captain Laughton was released from the hospital on March 4, 2010 and despite the severity of his illness, he returned to work as a Lieutenant in the Internal Affairs Bureau on April 4, 2010. He then competed in a bodybuilding contest on October 23, 2010; he eventually became a professional bodybuilder.
Captain Laughton continued his work in the Internal Affairs Bureau conducting audits and internal personnel investigations. He subsequently transferred into the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in March 2013 where he supervised investigators tasked with investigating public corruption, narcotics and organized crime in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. On July 5, 2014, he was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned to Troop “E” Headquarters in Canandaigua, New York where he was responsible for the troop’s administrative functions involving more than 450 employees who provide patrol, investigative and support services throughout the Finger Lakes Region. On December 7, 2015, he transferred into Troop “A” assuming command of uniform patrol operations within Niagara, Genesee and Orleans Counties. He has routinely instructed Situational Leadership to newly promoted supervisors at the State Police Academy and has served on Oral Assessment Center Exercise Boards evaluating candidates seeking promotion to the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant.
Captain Laughton has been a member of the United States Air Force 107th Medical Group, serving in the New York Air National Guard for 32 years as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Medical Service Corps. His numerous duties include leading his unit to earn “excellent” scores in intense accreditation inspections; instructing leadership courses to Airmen; adeptly managing complicated computerized inspection systems; and primarily assisting in the overall leadership of the Medical Group. Captain Laughton became a Certified Speaker, Trainer, and Coach for the John Maxwell Team in 2011. He gave a keynote presentation to the NY State Department of Corrections regarding his medical incident. He is the President of “Laughton Leadership” and has written and published three books, The 4 M’s of Success: From Coma to Competition; The Success Equation; and Decisions and Consequences. His continuing goal is to bring hope to those who have suffered serious medical setbacks; to learn how to live and thrive despite what life throws at you; and how to use your attitude to succeed in life.
Above and beyond his many professional accomplishments, Captain Laughton is a dedicated husband and father. He resides in the town of Lockport with his wife and five outstanding young sons.
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