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Five Members of West Hartford Police Department Honored at Promotion Ceremony

Five members of the West Hartford Police Department were honored Thursday at a promotion ceremony. From left: Asst. Chief Dan Coppinger, Det. Brandon Dudzinski, Lt. Dan Moffo, Sgt. Ed Jacovino, Sgt. Dave Michael, Lt. Aaron Vafiades, Chief Vernon Riddick Jr. Courtesy photo

Five members of the West Hartford Police Department were honored in a ceremony Thursday.

By Ronni Newton

Family, friends, and members of the West Hartford Police Department gathered in the Town Hall auditorium Thursday as Chief Vernon Riddick Jr., and Assistant Chief Dan Coppinger hosted a ceremony honoring officers who have been promoted effective July 26.

All were given the oath of office by Assistant Town Clerk Madonna King.

Two department members have been promoted from the rank of sergeant to lieutenant.

Lt. Aaron Vafiades is now assigned to Patrol “A” Squad.

Lt. Aaron Vafiades was pinned by his wife, Marissa. Courtesy photo

Vafiades is a native of Dexter, ME, and moved to Connecticut to attend the University of New Haven. His older brother is a sergeant in the Bangor Maine Police Department, and Vafiades followed in his footsteps. Following his graduation with a B.S. in criminal justice, he joined the West Hartford Police Department in May 2007.

Vafiades, who is currently a member of the Honor Guard, has worked in the Patrol Division where he received multiple unit citations, merit awards, a life-saving award, and two MADD awards. He has also been a member of the bike squad and a police mountain bike instruction.

He is a member of the Emergency Services Unit (ESU), a police sniper, represented the town in the Connecticut SWAT Challenge and has attended the Direct Action Resource Center’s Law Enforcement counterterrorism course in Arkansas and the Southern Police Institutes Command Officer Development course hosted in West Hartford along with other police leaders from around New England.

Vafiades was promoted to sergeant in 2015, and has been a patrol supervisor, an FTO sergeant, and the department’s domestic violence liaison.

He will leave the detective division to become the lieutenant in charge of day shift patrol.

Vafiades was pinned by his wife, Marissa.

Lt. Dan Moffo is now assigned to Patrol “B” Squad.

Lt. Dan Moffo was dubbed by his wife, Amanda, and three children. Courtesy photo

Moffo, a West Hartford native who still lives in his hometown, is a Conard High School graduate who grew up playing multiple sports and earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

He graduated from Drew University in New Jersey with a bachelor’s in psychology and sociology, but was undecided about his plans until a mentor suggested he explore a career in law enforcement.

Moffo was hired by the West Hartford Police Department in December 2006, and joined the Patrol Division when he graduated from the Police Academy in 2007. He has received departmental and unit citations for his work apprehending fugitives, and has been a Field Training Officer assisting new officers.

He has worked in the Traffic, Detective, and Community Relations Divisions, and was promoted to detective in 2014. As a detective, he assisted with successful investigations into multi-jurisdictional commercial burglaries, home invasions, and fraud.

In 2015, Moffo was promoted to sergeant and returned to the Patrol Division where he supervised field training, dispatch, and served on multiple committees. He also became certified as a Public Information Officer and Police Motor Officer, and briefly was a supervisor in the Community Relations Division. While a sergeant, he received a merit award and unit citation for his involvement with a violent domestic incident and a fire at an apartment complex.

Moffo was pinned by his wife, Amanda, and three daughters, Evelina, Lorelei, and Amelie.

Two officers have been promoted to sergeant.

Sgt. Ed Jacovino is now assigned to Patrol “A” Squad.

Sgt. Ed Jacovino being pinned by his wife, Maria, and granddaughter, Emily. Courtesy photo

Jacovino, a lifelong resident of West Hartford, started his law enforcement career as a New Britain police officer and joined West Hartford Police in 2004, serving as a patrol officer primarily on the second and third shifts.

He was a member of the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) from 2007-2014, trained as a sniper and entry specialist. He responded to incidents throughout the Hartford area, assisting with hostage situations and serving high risk arrest and search warrants.

As a member of the Traffic Division since 2014, Jacovino became an Accident Reconstructionist, and assisted in the investigation of several fatal crashes.

He has been a Field Training Officer and assisted with training officers from other towns, and is a POST-certified firearms instructor, patrol rifle instructor, sniper instructor, simunitions instructor, Glock armorer, Colt armorer, and Remington armorer.

Jacovino, who has received a merit award and two unit citations, has also won several military and police sniper competitions, and along with Lt. Chris Chappell has taught sniper classes in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Multiple members of Jacovino’s family attended Thursday’s ceremony, and his wife, Maria, and granddaughter, Emily, pinned him.

Sgt. David Michael is now assigned to “B” Squad.

Sgt. David Michael was pinned by his wife, Jennifer. Courtesy photo

Michael grew up in Granby, where this mother, Laurie, worked as a police dispatcher.

After graduating from Granby High School in 2001, Michael enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving until 2007 and attaining the rank of sergeant. He received several awards and letters of commendation, and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michael left the Marines in January 2007, and was hired by the West Hartford Police Department that May. He has served in the Patrol Division, Traffic Division, on the Community Interaction Team, and is a member of the Emergency Services Unit. He joined the Capitol Region Explosive Breaching Team in 2013, and was part of the sniper team in 2014 and 2015.

He was American Legion Police Officer of the Year in 2015, and has earned two merit awards, six unit citations, and the Police Academy Shooting Award.

Michael has attended multiple schools and police training programs related to drug enforcement, interrogation, explosives, shooting, and counterterrorism.

His wife, Jennifer, pinned him on Thursday.

Brandon Dudzinski was promoted from officer to detective, and is now assigned to CSU.

Det. Brandon Dudzinski with his wife Kimberly and children. Courtesy photo

A native and current resident of Bristol, Dudzinski earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology with a minor in criminal justice from UConn. He’s currently completing his master’s in criminal justice at Central Connecticut State University.

He was hired by the West Hartford Police Department in December 2008 and has been assigned to the Patrol Division since completing the Police Academy in May 2009.

Dudzinski has been a Field Training Officer, and became a member of the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) in 2014, where he is a sniper. He has attended counterterrorism training in Arkansas, and was a member of the Community Interaction Team from 2014-2017.

In 2017 Dudzinksi was named American Legion Police Officer of the Year for West Hartford, and also earned the honor for the state of Connecticut.

During his career, Dudzinski has helped recover weapons, apprehend armed robbery suspects, seize drugs, and has earned eight unit citations, three departmental citations, and two merit awards.

He has been a mentor for West Hartford Public Schools for the past three years.

Dudzinski was joined Thursday by his wife, Kimberly, and their children, Logan, Liam, and Olivia, as well as many other family members. Logan and Liam were given the honor of pinning him with his detective badge.

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