It was standing room only at Borough Hall’s council chambers Monday evening, where police officers and their families packed the council chambers at the beginning of the mayor and council’s regular meeting. On the agenda was the ceremonial oaths of office, badge ceremony and police department promotions.
New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro recognized Ret. Lieutenant Bruce Raffo for 30 years of service to the town, after which Mayor Ann Subrizi administered the oaths of office to six newly promoted lieutenants.
Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant at Monday's meeting were the following New Milford police officers:
Thomas Johnson: 26 years of service
Robert Jones: 19 years of service
Kevin Kiene: 25 years of service
Stephen Littlefield: 19 years of service
John O'Malley: 30 years of service
Frank Ramaci: 19 years of service, is now Detective Lieutenant
"It's my pleasure to swear these gentlemen in," Subrizi said prior to administering the oath of office, "Be safe and keep New Milford the sleepy little town it is."
Upon taking their oaths, Papapietro congratulated each newly promoted man as he handed them their gold lieutenant's shield.
Papapietro told Patch that these promotions are an "important first step in the rebuilding process."
During January's work session, Papapietro appeared before the mayor and council requesting permission to promote six sergeants to the rank of lieutenant and authorize administering the sergeants exam for patrol officers.
"The current rank structure no longer supports this organization," he told the mayor and council during that meeting. Papapietro explained that low staffing numbers due to attrition— particularly among the higher ranks — have left shifts without the necessary chain of command and proper supervision requiring officers to perform tasks outside of the scope of their rank, a practice, he stressed, that could open the town up to a potential lawsuit.
After the promotions were made, Papapietro said, "I'm grateful to the Mayor and Council for their support of the Department and to the PBA for their continued hard work through the past few lean years."
"They never lost their focus through those times and kept their high work ethic evident."
Subrizi closed the ceremony by saying, "I'm so proud to know [these officers] and so proud to be able to do this."