|By Chris Maza|
WILBRAHAM The Board of Selectmen voted to appoint Sturbridge Police Lt. David Diogo to a full-time position in the Wilbraham Police Department after a pair of final interviews at its June 24 meeting.
Diogo, a Fall River native who spent the majority of his career as an officer on Henderson, N.C., has served as an administrative lieutenant for the Sturbridge Police Department for the past two years, but said he "still had some road blood" in him and wished to more actively serve the public.
Diogo explained that he first went to North Carolina in 1996 to pursue law enforcement opportunities when they were few and far between in the Commonwealth. He came back to the Bay State in 2011 when his mother fell ill.
Wilbraham Police Chief Roger Tucker told the selectmen that the town received 101 applications and 22 of those applicants were academy trained. Diogo was one of five selected to interview with Tucker, Town Administrator Robert Weitz and Human Resources Director Herta Dane. Monson Police Officer Nicholas Gasperini was the other finalist.
Gasperini, a lifelong western Massachusetts resident, has been a member of the Monson Police Department since 1999.
Tucker recommended Diogo for the position, pointing to his broad experience and philosophies, which were in line with his own as the primary reason.
Diogo also said he believed his knowledge was his greatest asset, but admitted that his understanding of Massachusetts General Law was his biggest weakness, partially due to the fact that he was behind a desk during his tenure in Sturbridge.
"I know North Carolina law by heart, but I would like to have a little bit better understanding of Massachusetts law," he said. "For example, there's a big difference when it comes to misdemeanors. In North Carolina, all misdemeanors are 'arrestable' offenses, but in Massachusetts, there are only five."
Tucker said Diogo's admission did not concern him because he had the experience and instincts to do well.
"The experience he has is not what we often would see out of applicants," he said. "He's also taken the initiative to better understand those laws and his experience will allow him to pick up on things quickly."
Diogo told the selectmen that Henderson, a town of between 15,000 and 16,000 people, had a high crime rate and he was exposed to a variety of different scenarios while walking a beat.
"Henderson is the commercial district for the surrounding communities and for its size was a very violent city that would usually average four to six murders a year," he said.
Tucker also said Diogo had completed approximately 2,500 training hours in addition to the experience he gained through 16 years of police work.
When asked how co-workers would describe him, Diogo said he had been told he was "the hardest worker they'd ever seen" and a "working horse."
Diogo's appointment is contingent upon certain criteria, including psychological and physical tests. Once those are completed, he will begin work at a date to be determined by Tucker.
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