(Editor's Note - the following comments were made by Waterbury Police Chief Fred Spagnolo (pictured above) after he was sworn into office by Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary on December 13th in a ceremony on the stage of the Palace Theater in downtown Waterbury. The photographs of Chief Spagnolo were taken by Jennifer Rose)
Thank you. These are my three beautiful children. Kids what is dad’s favorite number? 15. Dad is changing that and my new favorite number is 22, because I am now the 22nd police chief of the great city of Waterbury.
I started my career in 1992 at the Waterbury Police Department. It was all new to me as I did not come from a family of law enforcement or public service. My family is of Irish and Italian decent and immigrated to this country during my generation. I grew up learning to be acceptant and respectful of others and their traditions.
The most valuable lesson I learned from my family in the early years was to help one another, no matter who that person was, always help your neighbor in need. As I was walking in the door of police headquarters for my background investigation with Sergeant Neil O’Leary, some icons of the Waterbury Police Department were walking out, like Superintendent William Lamb, Chief Inspector Bob Deely and Detective John “Pudgy” Maia to name a few. Their prosperous careers were ending here in Waterbury as mine was beginning. I remember it like yesterday and I remember one common theme I was told by all of these men, that was to treat the job and the city right, and it would take care of me. Well boy that could not have been better advice.
As hard work and a little help would play a role, I have enjoyed a very fulfilling career here at the Waterbury Police Department. I have had the opportunity to work with, be mentored by, looked out for, scolded by (when I needed it) and all in all supported by some of the best law enforcement professionals in the business, hands down. Like these men here retired Superintendent Ed Flaherty, retired Chief Neil O’Leary, retired Chief Mike Gugliotti and retired Chief Vernon Riddick. Men, thank you for your guidance and support in leading me down this road of opportunity. Many more members of the police department both past and present are here tonight, and I am honored to have your continued support.
Through my career I have had some wonderful opportunities at the police department and in this City. I have worked in many different divisions within the department learning all facets of what it takes to run a great organization like the Waterbury Police Department. I have made some incredible lasting friendships both in the police department and in our community. From Bunker Hill to East Mountain, from Bucks Hill to the South End and all the neighborhoods in between I have learned about the rich, diverseness of our City and the strength of our community. This is what drives me every day to come into work charged up and ready to go. I love this city and all that it represents.
I believe in partnerships, face to face personal communication, transparency and always having the welcome shingle out. This will be the foundation that we will continue to build our police department’s community relations efforts on. We have done a great job with community relations through the years and I know we can do better. We will focus on community outreach and providing service to our citizens outside the boundaries of traditional police work. We will hone our skills as a multi-faceted social service resource. We will accomplish this by regular meetings with all community leaders and unfettered access to police leadership. We will meet collectively and in open forum for all to participate and bring issues or concerns to the table. We will continue to work in partnership with our city’s youth.
PAL, our nationally recognized youth servicing program reorganized by Chief O’Leary in 2006 and now serving 4400 members through 30 plus different programs… what an accomplishment. PAL will continue as our flagship program and will be the catalyst for change in our community reaching deep into our neighborhoods as part of revitalization and support for all children and their families focusing on our most at risk youth.
We want to know all the problems that exist in our community and we want to address them before they become worse. And we will work on stopping the problems before they occur. Our mantra will become “the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
We have a lot of work to do here in Waterbury. We are haunted by the ongoing opioid crisis in our community and in this country. Overdoses in Waterbury continue to rise at a disproportionate rate. And as part of this epidemic the ripple effect of family’s being torn apart and acts of violence continue to occur. We will remain vigilant in our efforts with our partners in the United States Attorney’s office, the DEA, the FBI, the ATF, the Waterbury States Attorney, the Connecticut State police and the Waterbury Health Department to assist in education, assist our community members who desire treatment and investigate all opioid related incidents in our City and our message will be clear – “If you need help we are here for you and will go to lengths to provide resources to assist you in getting help with an opioid addiction. If you are fueling the problem, if you are part of the violence we are here for you in a much different much more aggressive way. We will vigorously investigate, arrest and assist to prosecute dealers of opioid addictive drugs and committers of violent acts in our community with a zero tolerance approach.”
I am very excited to go to work tomorrow morning.
• I want to thank all the speakers here tonight, It is high praise for me to have you take the time to attend and address this event. I am honored and I thank you.
• I want to thank our State delegation for your continued support and I look forward to working with you to address some of the more serious issues that are currently impacting our community.
• To our local elected officials, you have been very supportive of me and I am happy to serve our great city alongside you.
• To my fellow Department Heads I thank you all for you years of support and I look forward to working in partnership with you to provide the best available services to our community.
• To our religious leaders, especially our police chaplain Father Ronald Ferrero, thank you all so much for your guidance, your assistance and for helping me with my faith. You are all truly motivational influences in my life.
• I want to thank our corporate community represented very strongly here tonight. In support of each other we will work to make downtown and this great city the place to be.
• To the men and women of the state and local law enforcement community that are here tonight. I thank you for your guidance, your partnership and your support. I am excited to continue to grow our relationships.
• I want to recognize Mr. John Durham our United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut and his staff that is here tonight. These men and women provide unwavering support to our city in an effort to make it a safer and better place to live.
• There are two police officers here tonight that are distinct and deserving. Retired Sergeant Domenic Moffo who is one of the oldest members of our department. Serg, thank you for being here and for always being there for me. And Sergeant Harry Moore of the Lisbon Maine Police Department. Lisbon is where I was a police officer for a short time prior to joining the department here in Waterbury. Sergeant Moore has been a mentor and a true friend for 30 plus years. Harry, thank you for being here tonight.
• States attorney Gail Hardy taught me how important testifying in criminal cases is. As an assistant Waterbury State’s Attorney Gail and I spent hours preparing for cases and Gail prepared me for the distinct privilege of being recognized by the court as an expert witness in narcotics investigations. Gail thank you for your years of guidance.
• Waterbury States Attorney Maureen Platt and her entire office of staff thank you for your daily support of our department and this administration. Your assistance in community support and outreach is so valuable to our mission.
• And to the men and women of the Waterbury Police Department. From the cadets to my command staff, you put your best foot forward every single day for this city and for me. Tonight would be impossible for me if not for your support. I recognize and thank you for that. I also recognize the demands of a law enforcement career. The long hours away from family, the high stress climate and the risk we take each and every day. I ask you all to work hard with me to police this city in an open minded, thoughtful, compassionate manner in order to protect our community and make it a place for all to enjoy. I want to recognize my aide Sergeant Daniel Ferrucci and administrative staff Charlotte Williams and Lisa Fernandes for the days of excellent work planning and preparing for this event tonight. You did it and I am so proud and grateful to you all.
• Mayor O’Leary, It’s been a challenging and rewarding road. I know that a tenant for you in measuring leadership is to look at the success of the people surrounding that leader. Sir, I am honored to be part of your team and I thank you for the confidence and for the position you have selected me for. I will be a positive factor in the measurement of your leadership.
• I have some extended family here tonight. Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Russo, their daughter Marcy and her two children. They have been a rock for me. They have been by my side in good times and in bad times never once looking for anything but to provide love and support. I am most grateful to have you all in my life. My second mother is in the audience tonight Georgiana Depausqualle. I have known her since I was small child and she has been a maternal figure for me all my life. Thank you for always being there for me especially tonight.
• Lastly my three children. Joseph, Meaghan and young William, You are my inspiration, you are my world, you are the foundation of my happiness and all that I achieve in my life. I love with all my heart and cherish you for eternity.
This city and its people have taken care of me all my adult life. You all have my word that I will do my best to take care of them now. Thank you all, goodnight.