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Chief Ciccalone left the department on October 30, 1973, to become Chief of Police for the University of Connecticut. Clarence A. Drumm, an Inspector (one step below Chief of Police) with twenty two years of service with the Hamden Police Department in Connecticut was hired as the Town’s 6th Chief of Police, and the first Chief from outside the department. Chief Drumm is credited with modernizing the department closer to what it exists today as compared to its roots.
The East Hartford Police Explorer Post 497 was founded in 1973 by Officer Albert Kerling with the support of Chief Drumm. The Post number was adopted from the department’s numerical street address at that time (497 Tolland Street.) The Police Explorer program is part of the Boy Scouts of America, and provides young men and women from ages 14 to 21 with a chance to view a future career in law enforcement by assisting the police department in uniform at non-hazardous duties, such as traffic and crowd control at accidents and fires, parking cars at events, and community policing projects. Post 497 was the first such group in the United States to allow a car patrol program utilizing a marked vehicle where explorers were unaccompanied by a police officer while patrolling parks and schools, assisting at fires, disabled vehicles, traffic accidents, medical calls, and checking vacant houses. For several years the Post also had a very successful Ride-Along program where four days per week explorers were allowed to ride with police officers and accompany them on non-hazardous calls. Numerous Post members have gone on to successful careers with the East Hartford Police as well as other federal, state, municipal, and military law enforcement agencies. The Explorer Post disbanded in 2002.
Chief Drumm implemented the four days on / three days off patrol work schedule in 1974. Chief Drumm also began assigning “employee numbers,” rather than badge numbers, as a control number for his sworn officers. The employee number retires along with the officer. Officers assigned to the Detective Bureau were allowed to use the title “Investigator,” until 1980. In 1975 Chief Drumm abolished the existing foot beats and patrol districts and implemented “Team Policing,” which involved all officers actively patrolling the whole town and answering calls by rotation. This patrol plan lasted for five years, at which point the Chief implemented a new beat system comprised of the current eight patrol districts.
The department, under Chief Drumm, purchased its first portable two-way radios in the mid-1970’s. These radios were large and unwieldy, with a long telescoping antenna which had to be manually pulled out and pushed in. In 1980, the department’s two-way radio system switched to the UHF band with a frequency of 460.250 Mhz, call sign KCA-460. Also in 1980, the Circuit Court moved out of 497 Tolland Street to a renovated supermarket building in Manchester, and the department took over the whole structure at 497 Tolland Street.
Due to increased training costs and liability considerations, the department retired the supernumerary, or part-time, officer program in April of 1984. Supernumerary officers had been used in the department since the early 1900’s, and in the early days this was the first step for a man to seek employment as a full-time police officer, prior to the implementation of the Civil Service system. John P. Lavoie and Romano I. Ratti, Jr. were the last two supernumerary officers appointed.
Chief Drumm retired on October 1, 1984. Deputy Chief George F. Dayton, Jr. was promoted to Chief of Police, the Town’s 7th Chief, on January 17, 1985. During Chief Dayton’s tenure, under the direction of Assistant Chief Anthony Land, the computerization of the department began. Initially the computer system was an IBM mainframe, which included Computer-Aided Dispatching, and eliminated the punch-card system of case logging and dispatch. The computer system has evolved to a Microsoft Windows-based system with report writing, records management, dispatching, and many other capabilities.
In 1988, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) undertook a study of the East Hartford Police Department which, upon its completion, named several ways in which the department could improve itself and its service levels. Chief Dayton retired on August 25, 1988. David L. Gorski, Chief of Police in Appleton, Wisconsin, was named Interim Chief of Police, the Town’s 8th Chief, and began serving on September 19, 1988, until a search could be conducted to find a new chief. Chief Gorski left on December 10, 1988. Sergeant Kathleen McNamara was elected President of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO), Local 386, which the officers and supervisors union had affiliated with. Sergeant McNamara was the first female police officer voted to a police union presidency in Connecticut.
Grover Howell, the Director of the New York City Police Communications Center, was hired as the Town’s 9th Chief of Police after a nationwide search, on April 3, 1989. After a shots fired incident at night on Tolland Street, Chief Howell decided to have officers change from wearing light gray uniform shirts to dark blue for officer safety. White shirts worn by Lieutenants and above at the time were eliminated. Police cruisers changed from gray to two-tone white over dark blue, returning to a more traditional look. Chief Howell served for eleven months, leaving on March 30, 1990, and was succeeded by Acting Chief Richard Brazalovich, the Town’s 10th Chief. The department started a formal Field Training Officer (FTO) program in 1989, whereby a recruit officer, upon graduating from the police academy, would ride with a police officer / trainer and eventually increase his level of participation and decision-making to the point of being self-sufficient.
Interest in a police canine program at the East Hartford Police Department began as early as 1962. After an incident where a shotgun was fired at a domestic dispute, a local resident, Viola Anderson, offered to purchase a police dog for the department to train and use. The offer was not acted upon at that time. In 1970, Officer John Wright and his personal canine, “Shep,” a German Shepherd, attended and completed the Glastonbury Police K-9 Training Program, at his own expense. It is unknown how often Officer Wright utilized Shep before he left the Department in 1971. In 1987, Officer Robert Kornfeld began researching the feasibility of the department having a police patrol canine program. Officer Kornfeld obtained his first patrol dog, a German Shepard named Luke, and after completing training with the Connecticut State Police, they began patrol on December 21, 1990. The department has had several patrol and narcotics or explosive canine / handler teams since then. The handler / canine teams and the year they started have been:
Officer John Wright and K-9 Shep
Officer Robert Kornfeld and K-9 Luke
Officer Robert Kornfeld and K-9 Friday
Officer William Proulx and K-9 Bruno
Officer William Proulx and K-9 Dakota
Officer John Zavalick and K-9 Raven
Officer John Zavalick and K-9 Axel
Detective William Turley and K-9 Miranda
Officer Pietro Cortese and K-9 Meko
Officer Stephen Grossi and K-9 Odin
Officer Stephen Grossi and K-9 Hades
Officer Jay Malley and K-9 Max
Officer Todd Mona and K-9 Primo
Officer Todd Mona and K-9 Casus
Officer David Rhoades and K-9 Charlie Brown
Officer Juan Rivera III and K-9 Capo
The handlers and their canines have been the recipients of many Connecticut K-9 Olympics awards over the years. Officer Kornfeld and K-9 Friday placed 2nd overall in the 2001 Las Vegas K-9 Trials.
In November of 1989, at the request of Chief Howell, the first formal EHPD Honor Guard was established. The original members of the Honor Guard were Kenneth Combs, Clifford Leonard, Ellen Stoldt, Frederick Paquette, and Timothy Juergens. The unit is utilized to officially represent the Department at parades, funerals, ceremonies, and other occasions where a formal presentation of flags, or flags and long guns, is desired or requested.
The East Hartford Police Department took over town-wide communications for all police, fire, rescue, and emergency medical calls in May of 1989. Prior to that, the town hired “dispatchers” and “information technicians” (also called info techs or call takers) who could not cross-task their jobs. The combined public safety dispatch center is housed within the police department.
Over the time period of 1989 into 1990, the East Hartford Police Department began the transition from .38 caliber revolvers to Glock 9mm semi-automatic handguns. Due to cost (pistols, leather gear, ammunition, etc.,) one-half of the officers were transitioned at a time, by seniority. The transition was completed within two years.
During the summer of 1990, Chief Brazalovich authorized the start of the first bicycle patrol officer program. Officers Robert Kornfeld, Peter Slocum, and Ellen Stoldt were the first bicycle patrol officers whose job was to patrol Main Street, Connecticut Boulevard, and all Town parks, in addition to other areas assigned by the Watch Commander, during the summer months. Although a specific bicycle patrol program no longer exists, the department uses bicycles for certain special events such as the Riverfest.
Chief Brazalovich served from March 31, 1990 until January 13, 1991. At that time Chief James W. Shay, a retired Lieutenant from the Connecticut State Police, was appointed head of the department, the Town’s 11th Chief.
In the Spring of 1994, the East Hartford Police Department’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) was formed. The team consisted of the Entry (Tactical) Team, Snipers, and Hostage Negotiators. The ERT Team Leader was Lieutenant Paul Lakenbach. The Department purchased a truck and command trailer combination to bring to the site of incidents. The original ERT personnel were:
Sergeant Thomas McDermott
Officer Jonathan Stosuy
Detective Curtis Stoldt
Officer James Leonard
Detective Gary Willett
Officer Anthony Piacenta
Officer Steven Syme
Officer Timothy Juergens
Officer Philip Serkosky
Officer Jilber Altounian
Detective Juan Rivera
Officer Charlie Sandberg
Lieutenant James Hankard
Sergeant Anthony Lupacchino
Officer Richard Rohner
Officer Timothy McConville
The team trained monthly, was involved in several incidents during its lifespan, and was disbanded in 2001. The ERT was succeeded by EHPD officers being assigned to the regional Capitol Region Emergency Services Team (CREST.) In 2010, the department again formed its own Tactical Response Team (TRT,) consisting of SWAT operators and negotiators.
The Centennial of the founding of the East Hartford Police Department was in 1995. The Department formed a Centennial Committee which consisted of its Chairman, Sergeant Jack Egan, along with Lt. Greg Zigmont, Sgt. Bob Rioux, Sgt. Rich Vibberts, and Officers Gerry Tomkiel, Jim McElroy, Tim Juergens, Mike Morelli, Sharon Eiter, and Town Councilwoman Marylee Hickey. Sergeant Egan drew up a Centennial logo, which Officer Juergens had made into a cloth patch. Other items such as coffee cups, t-shirts, baseball caps, pins, and bumper stickers, were made up using the logo and sold by the Centennial Committee. Officer Juergens began to formally document the history of the Department. Articles on the centennial appeared in the Hartford Courant and the Journal Inquirer newspapers. The Department held a Centennial Ball on Saturday, November 11th, at the Marco Polo Restaurant at 1250 Burnside Avenue, which was attended by approximately 100 people, including Chiefs Bushnell, Drumm, Howell, Brazalovich, and Shay.
Officer Brian A. Aselton, employee #251, was working the evening shift on Saturday, January 23, 1999, when, at 9:15 PM, he answered a Noise Complaint at 454 ½ Main Street. Unbeknownst to Officer Aselton, he was walking into a home invasion robbery at an apartment. Officer Aselton confronted two suspects in the hallway as they tried to leave the scene. A female suspect fled out the rear stairwell. Officer Aselton was able to grab hold of the male suspect, Alex Sostre, and the two struggled. Sostre pulled out a .38 caliber revolver from his pants pocket, which he had stolen during the robbery, and shot Officer Aselton once in the head, killing him. Sostre then fled the scene. Officer Aselton’s funeral and burial was held on Thursday, January 28, 1999, with over (estimated) 10,000 law enforcement officers from across the United States and Canada in attendance. After a joint investigation by the East Hartford Police and Connecticut State Police, assisted by numerous other law enforcement agencies, Sostre and three accomplices, Erica Vilchel, Nency Forty (who had been in the apartment with Sostre,) and Jose Gonzalez, were arrested in less than a week. Sostre pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole; his accomplices all received long prison terms. Officer Aselton was the third East Hartford police officer killed in the line of duty, and his name is memorialized on both the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Law Enforcement Memorial in Meriden, Connecticut. Numerous positive activities, including a Red Cross blood drive, charity motorcycle run, and scholarship fund, have been established in Officer Aselton’s name.
Chief Shay departed on March 22, 2000, and Commander Mark J. Sirois was named acting Chief of Police. Chief Sirois was sworn in as the 12th full time Chief of Police on February 16, 2001. In 2001 Chief Sirois implemented a new shoulder patch, and in 2002 new badges for the Chief, Commanders, Lieutenants, and Sergeants. He also allowed Commanders to resume wearing white uniform shirts. Chief Sirois also reinstituted the title of “Investigator” for personnel of the rank of officer assigned to the Criminal Investigations Bureau. The “Class C” uniform, consisting of uniform shirts with sewn-on insignia, BDU (battle-dress uniform) pants, and baseball caps, was developed and established as the primary uniform for officers working Patrol and Private Duty Jobs.
In 2000, the department transitioned from Glock 9 millimeter pistols to Glock .40 caliber pistols, to improve the performance provided by the department’s issued handgun.
On Monday, September 13, 2004, the new East Hartford Public Safety Complex at 31 School Street was opened. The complex consists of the renovated former Burnside School plus new wings for police Operations, and Fire Station 3 / fire administration offices. The formal dedication of the complex occurred on Thursday, June 16, 2005, with a dedication ceremony, open house and tours, and refreshments. The old Police Headquarters at 497 Tolland Street was torn down, and the land became part of the grounds of the Public Safety Complex.
The department held its first Citizen Police Academy in the Spring of 2006, coordinated by Sergeant Timothy Juergens. Twenty three town residents and business owners attended a three hour class every Wednesday for twelve weeks from March to June, each week taking up a different topic of police work as related to the East Hartford Police Department. The class was well received by the attendees, the media, and the department, and a similar Academy has been held almost yearly since then.
In April of 2007, the rank of Commander was eliminated, and the three remaining Bureau Commander positions were retitled Deputy Chiefs.
In the Summer of 2011, the Department transitioned from Glock .40 caliber pistols to Smith & Wesson M&P .45 caliber pistols, to greater improve the performance and stopping power provided by the Department’s issued handgun.
In March of 2012, Officer Sharon Eiter became the first sworn female officer to retire from the Department in good standing after serving over 25 years. Officer Eiter worked for two years as a Dispatcher from 1984 to 1986, then worked as a sworn Officer from 1986 to 2012 (25 years, 10 months.) During her years of sworn service, Officer Eiter worked in the Patrol Division, Juvenile Division, Community Outreach Division, School Resource Officer at the East Hartford Middle School, and as the Department’s Information Officer.
Chief Sirois retired on January 1, 2014, and Scott M. Sansom, formerly the Deputy Chief of the Hartford Police Department, was appointed the 13th Chief of Police for the Town of East Hartford. Chief Sansom then appointed his four Deputy Chiefs: Beau Thurnauer (Criminal Investigations;) Mack Hawkins (Field Operations;) Robert Davis (Professional Standards;) and Timothy McConville (Support Services.)
In 2015, the Class C uniform was eliminated and officers returned to shirts with metal insignia, traditional uniform pants with a black stripe on the sides, and “crush”-style uniform hats with metal hat badges bearing the officer’s employee number.
The East Hartford Police Department re-instituted the Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO) Program in 2016 with four officers designated as part-time NROs. A full-time Community Service Officer (CSO) position within the NRO Program was established and, after an interview process, filled by Officer Theodore Branon. Today the NRO Program consists of 1 full-time officer and 8 officers who work in the program part-time in addition to their regular assignment.