Former Milford Police Officer and spokesman Edward F. Kelly has died, local law enforcement officials said today.

Kelly, much loved in the community before retiring more than 10 years ago, had been battling an illness in recent years, sources said.

Kelly was appointed to the Milford Police Department in 1972 and served the department and the community until his retirement in 1999. He served for seven years in the patrol division and in 1979 he was assigned to the Crime Prevention Unit, becoming director of the unit in 1982. He also served as the public information officer.

During  his 27-year career,  Kelly served with distinction, receiving the Medal of Merit, a Meritorious Service Medal, seven Certificates of Commendation, eight Letters of Recognition and hundreds of complimentary/appreciation letters from the public, other law enforcement agencies and civic organizations.

Under his leadership, the Milford Crime Prevention Unit was presented with the Outstanding Crime Prevention Unit of the Year Award by the International Society of Crime Prevention Practitioners in 1985 and 1989, as well as the United Way Gold Award in 1989.

He also received the National Burglar Alarm and Fire Alarm Association's Police Officer of the Year Award (1989), was named the Crime Prevention Association of Connecticut Officer of the Year (1996), as well as receiving the Milford Elderly Services Public Service Award.

“Ed was instrumental in establishing the department's Neighborhood Watch Program, Drug Free Milford Coupons, safety programs for the elderly and a host of other programs that promote  safety within the community,” the police department said in a prepared release.

In 1999, Kelly was chosen by the Milford's St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee to be the Grand Marshall of the parade.

“Ed retired Jan. 1,  as a Deputy First Class working the Disney Sector 6 for the past 10 years and, as only Ed could tell it, had the greatest job on earth and loved every day of it,” police said.