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Selectmen choose two new police officers

Date: 12/4/2012

By Chris Maza

EAST LONGMEADOW — The Board of Selectmen selected two East Longmeadow High School alums to fill two vacancies on the Police Department's roster at its Nov. 27 meeting.

Joseph Dalessio and Matthew Lecuyer were chosen from a field of six finalists who interviewed for the two positions, which became open due to the promotion of Sgt. Daniel Bruno and the upcoming retirement of Officer Amico Barone.

The six candidates were presented to the board after a vetting process conducted by Sgts. Patrick Manley, Denis Sheehan and Steven Manning, Police Chief Douglas Mellis said.

Dalessio and Lecuyer will next be required to take part in a training academy with the hopes that they will be ready for duty by the middle of 2013.

"We're hoping to get them into the Western Massachusetts Police Academy at STCC [Springfield Technical Community College]. It's an 800-hour training, or about 20 weeks," Mellis said. "Then what we do is a department training where we get them acclimated with our internal policies and procedures.

"They will be out of the academy in middle to late June and we hope to have them on the street by early August," he added.

The additions of Dalessio and Lecuyer give the department a full roster, but Mellis said it's never clear how long the department will stay at full strength.

"When they get through the academy and training, it will make us full," he said. "But you never know when someone is going to retire."

The son of Sgt. Jeffrey Dalessio, Joseph Dalessio said he felt East Longmeadow police officers had the important responsibility first and foremost of keeping the peace.

"Right in the East Longmeadow Police Department's mission statement it says the Police Department is there to preserve the public peace and I think that's an important part to policing," he said. "Policing is not all about making arrests, which I learned through my training experience."

Dalessio was recently hired as a member of the of the South Windsor, Conn., Police Department, and is currently taking part in a five-month training at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden, Conn. He said, however, joining the East Longmeadow Police Department makes sense for him.

"I'm born and raised in East Longmeadow. I feel like this is where my heart is. This is where I belong," he said. "It's a great place to raise a family, it's a great school system, we have some of the more prominent businesses in the area, which says a lot about our commercial industry and our industrial section in town. Even through tough economic times, they're holding up strong and I think that says a lot about our town."

Prior to being hired in South Windsor, Dalessio graduated Phi Theta Kappa from STCC and the achieved a bachelors degree in criminal justice from Westfield State University and went on to the academy for reserve officers in Longmeadow.

"That academy is about 300 hours of training and I got experience in things such as defensive tactics, use of force, [and] dealing with children with special needs," he said. "I got to work in Longmeadow for approximately three to four months, so it helped me transition from the classroom to the field."

For Lecuyer, who graduated from Springfield College in 2010 with a degree in criminal justice, this is his first opportunity to serve as a police officer. He currently works with special needs students in the East Longmeadow School District as a paraprofessional.

"It's been tough to find a job with the economy and whatnot," he said. "I went to school for criminal justice, but just haven't been able to get anything."

Lecuyer has also been active in the community through sports. The former Spartans football player who earned Defensive Most Valuable Player honors at the Shrine Chowderbowl Classic in 2006, was the junior varsity football team's head coach during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Lecuyer said the involvement of East Longmeadow police officers in his life during his youth gave him the drive to become an officer.

"At a young age, it was the D.A.R.E. [Drug Abuse Resistance Education] program," he said. "Growing up, I looked up to police officers since second or fourth grade and I always had an interest [in policing] growing up . Growing up, if anyone asked me about my career and what I wanted to do, the only thing I could think of was criminal justice."

The selectmen also chose Michael Calcasola as an alternate. Should Dalessio or Lecuyer be unable to complete the academy or fail the required physical, Calcasola, provided he was to accept the offer, would act as their replacement.