WALLINGFORD — Anthony DeMaio’s first thoughts as the town’s new deputy police chief on Thursday included the officers who guided and accompanied him through 26 years as a town police officer.
There was one of his bosses, retired Police Chief William Wright. Officers Carm Ticino and Christian Evans, his colleagues and friends. Lt. Stacy Sacharko, who graduated with DeMaio from the Connecticut Police Academy and retired Deputy Chief Marc Mikulski, his first field training officer.
All of them are different people with dissimilar approaches to police work, but they all, DeMaio said, helped impart to him one of the most challenging and valuable lessons of leading or just working in a municipal police force:
“Life is not a planned event. You have to work with the people around you,” DeMaio said. “You have to trust them and get through it. You have to lean on the people around you and learn from them. Everybody has something to contribute. It’s a family.”
DeMaio succeeds recently-appointed Police Chief John Ventura. Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. congratulated the 55-year-old DeMaio on his promotion from lieutenant commanding the department’s Traffic Division.
In a brief speech, Dickinson welcomed DeMaio to his new job and the three recruits also sworn in on Thursday — Talia Williams of Stratford, Nour Khoury of New York and Michael Kozlowski of North Haven. The trio will start field work when they graduate from the academy in spring.
DeMaio and other police face the challenge of constantly evaluating a host of people and situations for violations of law as they work to maintain the peace, Dickinson said.
“It’s that judgment and decision making. There is nothing simple about it,” Dickinson said. “It takes judgment. It takes intelligence. It takes compassion. Upon all of that rests the peace and tranquility of Wallingford and the reputation of the department you are now a member of. We know that you take that responsibility seriously and we are thankful. We welcome the new deputy chief and the recruits and we know that you will do a great job.”
DeMaio becomes the department’s No. 2 at a time of transition. Besides the replacement of Wright by Ventura on July 1, police are planning to move to a new headquarters in two or three years. In April, the Town Council voted 7 to 1 to purchase a Barnes Road office building for police for $1.76 million.
Police also have to keep pace with a host of changes required by a police accountability law signed by Gov. Ned Lamont in July 2020. The law has expanded bodycam use to all municipal uniformed police and will require bodycams on all sworn officers and dashcams in all marked state, municipal and tribal law enforcement cruisers by July 1, 2022.
The department had five promotions in April, the first time in years that so many climbed the leadership ladder simultaneously. Lt. Michael Colavolpe was prompted to captain, Sergeants William Merriam and Shelly Cafasso to lieutenant and Officers Owen Davidson and Henry Cadette were promoted to sergeant.
Ventura also plans to upgrade the department’s Training Division and maintain the department’s accreditation while continuing to build relationships within the community. All these are tasks that DeMaio is well-suited to help lead, Ventura said.
DeMaio joins Ventura and Colavolpe as a department administrator. DeMaio will help oversee day-to-day operations and the training overhaul. He finished first on the deputy chief’s exam and worked hard to put himself in a position to succeed, Ventura said.