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Police Commission Promotes Bahamonde To Lieutenancy



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After having worked 24 years at the police department, the Police Commission has promoted Aaron Bahamonde, 45, from the position of administrative sergeant to that of lieutenant, marking his entry into the organization's five-member command staff.

Following closed-door interviews with three sergeants vying for the post of lieutenant, Police Commission members on January 3 unanimously approved Sgt Bahamonde's promotion. That promotion will take effect late this month, along with the promotion of Lieutenant Christopher Vanghele to the rank of captain, and the promotion of School Resource Officer Liam Seabrook to the rank of sergeant.

The three simultaneous promotions will mark the largest shift in the police department's hierarchy in many years.

Since joining the police department in early 1993, Sgt Bahamonde has served as a patrol officer, a field training officer for recruits, a member of the state police's Statewide Narcotics Task Force, and as a sergeant. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2003, and has served as the administrative sergeant for the past six years.

The administrative sergeant at the police department handles various managerial tasks, such as fleet management, traffic services, animal control services, staff scheduling, and press liaison duties. While serving as administrative sergeant, Mr Bahamonde started the police department's participation in social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Also, the sergeant helped develop the graphic design used on the police patrol vehicles.

Sgt Bahamonde, who is the third-longest serving person among current sworn police officers, remarked this week on how the specifics of policing have changed since he started work.

"When I got here, we did our reports on paper," he noted, describing how the continuing digitization process has affected the information-handling aspects of police work. Police reports are now produced digitally. Police have the use of desktop computers in the police station and laptops in their patrol vehicles for report writing. Police spend much time writing reports while on the job, documenting the cases that they investigate.

Digital information handling often comes more easily to the younger officers, and typically poses a steeper "learning curve" for the older officers, the sergeant said. Overall, digitization has made the data-handling aspects of police work more efficient, he said.

Years ago, police would use large camcorders, which contained VHS videotape cassettes, mounted within in their patrol vehicles to record interactions with the public. Now such interactions are more simply recorded on compact digital devices, which store audio/visual information on tiny data storage cards, he said.

Also, Newtown police are field-testing compact body-worn cameras, also known as bodycams, to record their interactions with the public while on the job, the sergeant said.

When compared to those hired in the past, the police recruits who are hired today have a more extensive education, he said. New hires now often have bachelor's degrees in psychology, social work, or criminal justice, Sgt Bahamonde said. Also, some police recruits have military backgrounds, he added.

Sgt Bahamonde said that he will look toward Lt Vanghele and Lieutenant David Kullgren to serve as mentors for his lieutenancy in the coming years. When he becomes a captain later this month, Lt Vanghele will be the second-in-command at the police department.

Sgt Bahamonde credited Police Chief James Viadero with freshening the local law enforcement agency after he became the chief in January 2016, exerting a positive influence on the rank-and-file members.

Chief Viadero, who has broad experience, addresses various problems as they arise, efficiently and effectively, while seeking out the views of police department members, Sgt Bahamonde said.

Among the major goals facing the department in the coming years is the creation of new police station better suited to meet the need of a law enforcement unit than the current police station at 3 Main Street, Sgt Bahamonde said. The police station, which has been in use for that purpose since 1980, was modified from its former use as an agricultural equipment dealership.

"It's really needed," Sgt Bahamonde said of new facilities. Recent public agency discussions have focused on building a new police station at Fairfield Hills.

Of Sgt Bahamonde's promotion, Chief Viadero said, in part, "It was a difficult choice that was made by the [Police Commission] due to the quality of all three candidates."

Sgt Bahamonde's long police service and his tenure as a sergeant were determining factors in separating the candidates, Chief Viadero said.

"I have had the opportunity of knowing Aaron for several years. During this time he had demonstrated his ability to show compassion and integrity in his dealings with both the public and department members. His candor, personality, and abilities have made him a valued member of the department and I am honored to work with such a good officer and person," Chief Viadero said.

"I am quite confident that he will be an integral member of the command staff," the chief added.

 Sgt Bahamonde, a Monroe resident, is married and has two children.

The Police Commission has promoted Sergeant Aaron Bahamonde to the rank of lieutenant. He will serve as one of the five members of the police department's command staff. (Bee Photo, Gorosko)
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