Reading Detective Michelle Halloran was given the Officer of the Year award for 2012. Halloran was nominated after being an integral part of an attempted rape case last year.
Halloran graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in Criminal Justice. She joined the police academy in November of 2001 and then became a patrol officer the next year. Halloran wanted to get into police work because it’s active, challenging and she wanted to help people, she said.
“I liked the whole idea of helping people, getting my hands dirty and doing investigations even before I was a detective,” she said.
She went back to school and graduated from the Massachusetts School of Law with a Juris Doctorate in 2007. She currently lives in Reading, where she was born and raised, with her husband and one-year-old son.
Throughout her time on the force, she was a patrol officer, safety officer and is now a detective. Being a detective is her favorite rank of the three.
“They all have different pros and cons, but absolutely detective has been my favorite rank,” she said.
She enjoys being able to take a case and “follow it all the way through.”
“It’s kind of like the stuff you see on T.V., but not exactly,” she told Patch.
She enjoys being challenged and solving cases. Sometimes you hit a dead end, she said, but it means a lot to the victim that you spent time on the case.
“I’m proud of all my cases,” she said.
Something as simple as solving a credit card fraud case or handing someone back jewelry that was stolen from them is rewarding, she explained.
She once pulled a small dog out from under a house and remembers it fondly, as she loves animals.
Sometimes, “it’s the little ones I like,” she said, referring to cases.
“Michelle is a compassionate, hard working detective,” Sergeant Detective Mark Segalla said. “She goes above and beyond on a daily basis.”
Halloran was nominated for Officer of the Year for a case she worked on with Detective Holmes.
“I cringed that I was nominated because there were so many people involved,” she said humbly. “Unfortunately, you can only pick one detective for Officer of the Year.”
The attempted rape case involved a 15-year-old Reading Memorial High School student. The female student met a male online and they exchanged phone numbers. The male said he was a teenage boy from another nearby town.
After texting for a while with the student, the male admitted that he was older than he claimed to be. He said he was in his late 20’s, another lie. Now uncomfortable with the situation, the student went to the school resource officer at the high school and told him about it. The school resource officer got the police involved, and was able to get the female students’ family to give police permission to use her phone.
Halloran used the students’ phone to communicate with the male as the teen.
“I had to basically pretend I knew what he was talking about when I didn’t, and had to act like a 15-year-old girl,” Halloran said.
Halloran researched emoticons, a pictorial representation of a facial expression using punctuation marks, and looked at Twitter accounts to see how teens were communicating with each other.
She had to build a relationship with the male, pretending to be someone else, without entrapping him or jeopardizing the case.
The male would send text messages to the student’s phone from the time she got out of school until 1 or 2 in the morning, Halloran told Patch. Then he would check in with her the next morning before she went to school, all the while Halloran was fielding the texts and responding.
“This guy had this girl’s schedule down pat,” she said.
All he wanted was photos of the student, or to sext, which means texting that is sexually charged, she explained.
The communication between Halloran and the male was only supposed to last a week. Halloran scheduled a time for the two to meet, but something came up and they had to reschedule. The communications ended up lasting about a month before they were able to meet face to face.
Halloran was able to build rapport with the male, and he eventually told her who he really was and where he lived. When the male finally agreed to meet with Halloran, who he thought was the student, police were able to arrest him.
The male was indicted on charges of attempted rape of a child under the age of 16 and enticement of a child.
According to Halloran, every detective participated in the case.
“It was a team effort, everyone had their part,” she said.
Halloran is a Reading resident and has been an officer for 12 years. By Ashley Troutman