Safety for All: The Battle of Watertown with Sgt Jeff Pugliese

Our inaugural Safety for All podcast features Sgt Jeff Pugliese, of the Watertown Police Department, reflecting on the ‘Battle of Watertown’ that followed the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 and forms a key scene in the recently released movie Patriots Day.

Notice: This podcast contains explosions, the sound of gunfire and a number of actual radio transmissions. The podcast is also available in audio-only form on SoundCloud.

Watertown, on the outskirts of Boston, became the backdrop for the eventual takedown of the two Tsarnaev brothers behind the hideous events at the Boston Marathon and what followed. Sgt Jeff Pugliese has served Watertown Police Department for more than 30 years and played a pivotal role in what some have called the ‘Battle of Watertown’. We ask him to share with us a little of his journey, his experiences that night and reflections for routinely unarmed British police officers who may find themselves confronted by serious criminals (including terrorists) intent on causing death:

“I’m not trying to be heartless or anything like that, but number one you have to do what you have to do to survive. I don’t care what you do. If that means that individual is out in the street with a firearm, run them over, that’s a deadly weapon, run them over. You have to do what you have to do to survive and protect the public.”

Given the results of the Metropolitan Police Federation’s recent taser and firearms survey, it is apparent that attitudes towards Britain’s police being routinely unarmed are changing – both in the workforce and the population. It should come as no surprise given the threats facing the public and police – and it is an area we shall continue to explore.

The real story of Sgt Jeff Pugliese (played by J.K. Simmons) features in the movie Patriots Day, documenting the Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath. It was released in the UK on 23 February 2017.


Sgt Pugliese at the scene, with some of the bullet holes from shots fired at him

As I'm going around the corner, a pipe-bomb explodes and I'm like whoa - what the heck was that!

Sgt Jeff Pugliese, Watertown PD

I look down and to my right are the two brothers ... and they are shooting at the officers

Sgt Jeff Pugliese, Watertown PD

I know I'm hitting them, but no reaction - what's wrong? I know I'm hitting them but it just didn't seem to be phasing them

Sgt Jeff Pugliese, Watertown PD

The Centre for Public Safety
The Centre for Public Safety
The Centre for Public Safety is a UK-based non-profit supporting frontline professionals and advocating for world-class policing and public safety. Find out more about The CfPS and our Founding Director. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and subscribe on YouTube. We also encourage you to subscribe to our email updates.

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