Promotions, New Faces in the Police Department as Long-Service Officers Retire

Familiar faces in new positions and new officers joining the force are changes unfolding over the next several weeks at the Bedford Police Department.

“We are going through a period of transition here because people are nearing retirement age,” Chief Robert Bongiorno said Tuesday. “We are trying to hire quality candidates for entry-level and ranking officer positions. It’s a vibrant time to be a police officer now.”

Officer Robert Abajian has been appointed to fill the vacancy resulting from the June retirement of Sgt. Jeffrey Wardwell. Abajian is scheduled to be sworn in on Thursday.

Abajian’s promotion and an existing opening resulted in the hiring of two prospective patrolmen. Matthew Piccirillo and Mary Ann Brickey are undergoing training at the Municipal Police Training Commission Academy in Lowell.

Piccirillo is the son of Bedford firefighter Tom Piccirillo and the nephew of Officer Eric Isnor. His great-grandfather, the late Henry C. Isnor Sr., was a selectman in the 1940s. Brickey worked for several years as a dispatcher for the Police and Fire Departments. Both new officers are expected to graduate in October.

Civil Service rankings include a preference for local connections. “It is really important for police officers to know the community and for the community to know the officers,” Bongiorno said. He added, “But we don’t take that for granted; we want to earn the public’s respect.”

The retirement of Lt. Jim Graham resulted in an opening for which any of the department’s seven sergeants is eligible. That will be filled by the end of September, Bongiorno said, primarily through the results of an assessment center. (A minimum of four applicants is required to conduct the process.)

“An assessment center is a test of knowledge, skills, and abilities,” Bongiorno explained. “It is a series of exercises, written and performative, in which a team of police professionals run our applicants through real-life scenarios which will be part of the functions of a lieutenant.” These range from a resident’s complaint to a budget question to a personnel matter.

The assessment center, scheduled for Aug. 24, is a Civil Service process, so the appointment will be from the top three scorers, the chief said. Since there is an educational and experience component, seniority will be part of the formula. Bongiorno noted that the appointing authority is the town manager.

A similar assessment process is scheduled for Sept. 18 to fill the vacancy that will result from the promotion to lieutenant. (Bongiorno noted that the Abajian promotion to sergeant was from a previous eligibility list that will soon expire.)

All patrolmen who have been on the force for at least one year are eligible to take a weighted and graded statewide Civil Service exam for sergeant on Sept. 18, Bongiorno said. He explained that the written result will be combined with competencies determined in the assessment.

The chief said he prefers this hybrid approach because “I believe it’s very important for sergeant candidates to have a written test on their knowledge of the law.”

He said another two entry-level officers are scheduled to enter the Police Academy in September. “We are finalizing the hiring process right now.”

Bongiorno also delineated several new appointments to stipend positions within the department:

Sgt. Ronald Undzis succeeds Graham as accreditation manager, in charge of overseeing all written policies and procedures and making sure they comply with the department’s accreditation certification;

  • Paul Saunders and Patrick Towle succeed Graham as crime prevention officers, working with both the residential and business communities;
  • Officer Jared Weisenborn has been designated senior liaison, working with the Council on Aging.
  • When classes resume, Officer James Hunt will succeed Wardwell as school resource officer.

Bongiorno encouraged young people interested in a law enforcement career to look into the department’s internship program, a partnership with Middlesex Community College. “You don’t need to be a criminal justice major,” he noted. “We are always looking to recruit residents who have an interest in law enforcement.”

Mike Rosenberg can be reached at mike@thebedfordcitizen.org, or 781-983-1763


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