North Haven native climbing the ranks at Wallingford PD

WALLINGFORD — After nearly 15 years of work in the department, this month, Wallingford police promoted Lt. James Cifarelli to the rank of captain in a decision higher-ups hope will evenly distribute responsibilities of the position.

Cifarelli’s promotion marks a turning point for Wallingford policing, as the department will now have two captains.

In assuming his new role alongside current Captain Michael Colavolpe, the position of captain was split in half, with Cifarelli taking on the role of Support Services Captain and Colavolpe working as Operations Captain. 

Wallingford police are reimagining the department’s chain of command, in part to alleviate the heavy burden of duties once resting on the shoulders of deputy chiefs.

Chief of Police John Ventura said the department’s deputy chief position juggled administrative tasks which belonged, in his mind, in the hands of a specialized post built to handle similar duties.

Cifarelli will enter his new role with years of multifaceted experience to draw on. A native of North Haven, he launched his Wallingford career in 2008 after befriending police officers in his social circle.

Though he did not initially intend to take up a career in law enforcement, Cifarelli said his interactions with contemporaries in policing persuaded him to enter the field.

“Before I took a job in law enforcement, I had some odd jobs,” Cifarelli said. “I was in college, I had met people that were police officers, and when I started to get to know them and see kind of what the job entailed, it really kind of motivated me to pursue this as a career.”

After four years working as a patrol officer, Cifarelli was named a field training officer in 2012 before moving up the ladder and working as a patrol sergeant, detective sergeant, lead negotiator, lieutenant and detective lieutenant ahead of his recent promotion.

Reflecting on his roughly decade and a half long career, Cifarelli struck a tone of confidence that his jack-of-all-trades status would serve as an ideal launching pad and training ground for his tenure as a captain.

“I think the experience I have in different areas of this police department [helps],” Cifarelli said. “So, I think the ability I have to adapt to different situations based on my experience, is what’s really going to help me propel this new area we're going into to success.”

Cifarelli set his sights on captainship prior to the recent promotion but was originally prevented from throwing his hat in the ring due to a requirement that applicants obtain a bachelor’s degree, which he did not have, Chief Ventura said.

To meet application standards, Cifarelli moved to secure his degree and took courses while simultaneously working as a full-time officer, a move which Ventura said caught his eye when searching for a new captain.

“He identified that he wanted this position and the captain’s position required a bachelor’s degree,” Ventura said. “He worked to attain one so he would be eligible to take the test. So, that right there just shows that not only is he dedicated to bettering himself, but he took it upon himself to attain that so he can be in a position to take the test, which would ultimately benefit the agency.”

Now, as he takes up the mantle of captain and embraces a new slate of duties, Cifarelli looks to bring his hands-on style of leadership to his next post and hone his approach through real-time observations on mentorship tactics.

“I consider myself a kind of a student of leadership,” Cifarelli said.

“It’s something I really kind of study and am frequently looking at,” he added.

“I’m big into servant leadership. I like to give the people who work for me the tools to succeed, and then guide them along that path so they can continue to succeed.”


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