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Selectmen approve promotion of two policemen

Aug. 15, 2013
By Chris Maza


WILBRAHAM – The Board of Selectmen voted to promote two officers on Aug. 5.

Sgt. Robert Zollo was promoted to captain, while patrolman Shawn Baldwin was chosen to fill the sergeant’s vacancy left by Zollo’s elevation in rank.

Zollo was the lone candidate for the captain’s position after a second candidate removed himself from consideration for personal reasons, Police Chief Roger Tucker said.

Zollo said his primary goal in seeking the position of captain was to help the department improve.

“I have between five and seven years left before I retire and I believe I can do more for the department teaching the sergeants and patrolmen,” he said. “My goal, like in life, is to leave this department better than when I got here.”

Zollo, 50, will begin his 20th year with the department on Aug. 18. He possesses a masters degree in criminal justice and is a part of the team within the department that conduct’s the hiring process.

He is also in charge of issuing licenses to carry firearms in the community, has served as a D.A.R.E. officer and is a certified school resource officer.

Zollo said he embraced the opportunity to be in a supervisory role, explaining that since being in his family’s painting business he has built a set of leadership skills.

“I’ve always had supervisory skills,” he said. “No matter where you are in the game … you have to treat people the way you want to be treated. I’d like to go back on my history to reach newer officers and a lot of the newer officers are people I’ve personally hired, so I already know what makes them tick.”

Zollo described himself as hard-working and a self-starter who likes to lead by example.

He added that one aspect of the department he would like to improve is its emphasis on community policing.

“When I first came in, that was a big thing and we were able to do it because we had enough people and not enough calls. It’s been tough the last four or five years because our call demand has been a lot higher with less folks,” he said. “There was a time when we actually got paid to go into the community. That money has dried up, so now you have to want to do it.

“The new guys have heard about community policing and think it’s a nice term, but they don’t know what it is. In a year I’d like to be able to say we’ve made a real effort to get into the community and get to know people,” he continued.

Baldwin beat out fellow patrolmen Derek Florindo and Jeffrey Rudinski for the sergeant’s spot.

While the board voted unanimously in favor of Baldwin, Selectman Robert Boilard admitted he initially had Rudinski ahead of Baldwin because of his advanced training in social media and Internet crimes. Tucker said that while Rudinski’s experience in that area was valuable, when looking at years of service, experience and strength in multiple aspects of the department’s workings, Baldwin appeared to be the best candidate.

Baldwin, 39, has been a police officer for 21 years and joined the Wilbraham Police Department in 1997. Currently he is the department’s officer in the courts as well as the officer in charge of follow up investigations and a member of the dive team.

He described himself as someone who would be an active leader who already has good relations with other officers because of his frequent interactions with them during investigations.

When asked in which areas he would like to see the department improve, he said first and foremost he would like to see everyone get settled into their roles, something that hasn’t been possible given the frequent staff changes within the department recently.

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