The West Hartford Police Department honored six members who have been promoted effective Monday during a ceremony that was split into two waves due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Ronni Newton
The promotion of six members of the West Hartford Police Department was celebrated Monday, in a bifurcated ceremony inside the Town Hall Auditorium.
The ceremony was originally scheduled to be held outdoors on the steps of Town Hall, but due to the weather it was moved inside and split into two waves to allow for family, friends, and other department members to attend while complying with COVID-19 regulations for occupancy and distancing.
Assistant Chief Dan Coppinger served as master of ceremonies – the last time he will serve in the role before his retirement on Dec. 8. At the end of the ceremony, Coppinger was also honored for his 30 years of service with a proclamation by Mayor Shari Cantor and received a plaque from Chief Vernon Riddick.
The following department members were honored Nov. 23, with the promotions effective that day.
Lt. Kerry Cloukey
Cloukey, who has been promoted from the rank of sergeant to lieutenant in the Patrol Division’s A Squad, is a New Britain native and 1984 graduate of New Britain high School.
He served on active duty as a Wideband Communications specialist with the U.S. Air Force for four years, earning his associate’s degree in electronic systems, and following his service he worked as a computer technician.
“Kerry missed the camaraderie he had in the military and knew he wanted to still serve his community,” Coppinger said, and applied to the New Britain Police Department where several of his family were already members.
He joined the New Britain Police Department in July 1990, and during his career served in roles that included being a member of the Honor Guard, bicycle patrol, PR-24 Baton instructor, and as a community officer in a subsidized housing developments. He also collaborated with the FBI and other organizations to conduct gang investigations that led to hundreds of arrests for weapons and narcotics charges.
“After serving the residents of New Britain for over 10 years, Kerry decided to apply at other police departments that offered more room for movement and opportunities,” Coppinger said. He was hired by the West Hartford Police in January 2001 and since then has been a firearms instructor, Field Training Officer, and an accident reconstructionist with the Traffic Division.
He worked in the Traffic Division from 2006-11, and even though he returned to the Patrol Division, he has continued to be called upon to assist int he investigation of serious or fatal motor vehicle crashes.
Cloukey has also been involved in grant-writing and data compilation for grants including DUI and Click It-or Ticket enforcement as well as working on the planning committee to launch the Distracted Driving enforcement campaign with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Connecticut Department of Transportation. He has spoken about the efforts at several conferences.
He has been involved with training for the Citizens Academy and College Academy, as well as in-house training efforts.
Cloukey was promoted to sergeant in 2016. He has received multiple unit citations, both at the New Britain Police Department as well as with the West Hartford Police.
Det. John Cardone
Cardone joined the West Hartford Police Department 15 years ago – just four months after he turned 21 and was eligible to work in law enforcement.
He trained as an active interdiction officer, and eventually worked the midnight shift where he remained for about six years, becoming known for organizing squad breakfasts at the end of the shift.
Cardone worked as a Field Training Officer, a LOCKUP instructor, an IPMBA-certified bicycle officer, and a member of the department’s Peer Support Team.
“As he progressed through his career, he began to find his niche within police work as an effective communicator, and verbal de-escalator,” Coppinger said. “These skills were recognized by his supervisors and he was recommended to fill the West Hartford Center beat position – an assignment where success is dependent on the ability to form relationships and rapidly develop rapport with strangers. Because of his calm personality and reputation as a good communicator, John was recently selected to be a negotiator on the crisis negotiation team.”
Cardone has received a life-saving award for performing the Heimlich maneuver on someone who was choking, and has also earned a merit award and numerous unit citations.
“John also holds the title of ‘fittest person’ in the department,” Coppinger said, and is an avid practitioner of the Wim Hof Method and focuses his free time on mental conditioning, meditation, and cold exposure.
Cardone lives in West Hartford with his wife, Lynette, and their four children.
Det. Jennifer Roman
Roman, who was promoted Monday from officer to detective, grew up in Deep River, CT.
“She always knew she wanted to live a life of service and dreamed of joining the armed forces,” Coppinger said. After graduating from Valley Regional High School in 2000, she enlisted in the Army National Guard as a combat medic and trained at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
When she returned to Connecticut, she enrolled at Central Connecticut State University and worked at New Britain General Hospital as a nurse technician.
Coppinger shared the following story: “On Sept. 11, 2001 Jen was getting ready to attend classes at CCSU. While watching the news her phone rang and it was her Connecticut Army National Guard unit commander asking her to respond to Stratford, CT. When Jen got to Stratford she volunteered to get on a helicopter and head to the NY/NJ Port Authority to help with the victims in the towers. Her and a few others waited at the Port Authority for the word telling them to go in and use their medical training and help the victims. Due to the chaotic nature at the time and constant change in leadership, Jen was never able to deploy into the hot zone to utilize her skills.”
It was a day she never forgot, and a particularly vivid memory was leaving the Port Authority in a helicopter with hundreds of people watching, thanking the soldiers for their service.
Roman left her job as a nurse technician after that, and joined the CTARNG’s Counterdrug Division, which involved work with the Hartford Police, and sparked her interest in law enforcement.
“All of her coworkers told her that West Hartford Police Department was the best place to get hired and that Jen should go for it. Jen did go for it, and was hired on May 9, 2004. Before leaving her prior job, she sat down with a captain from the Hartford Police Department who gave her some advice. He told her: ‘No matter what you do, treat everyone with respect.’ Jen never forgot that and after 16 years of service always tries to treat whoever she comes in contact with as if they were her family,” Coppinger said.
Since joining West Hartford Police, she has gotten involved with the Peer Support Team, and spearheaded a change in the department’s Employee Assistance Program to include greater focus on responders and their families. She helped update the department’s peer support policies, and Coppinger said she has recently championed for the department to take on an “Officer Wellness Dog” through the Puppies Behind Bars program.
Since 2019, Roman has worked in the Community Relations Division focused on elementary and middle schools, and has been trained as a National Child Passenger Safety technician, and for certification in Physical Security Assessments.
Sgt. Raymond Narciso
Narciso, who has been promoted from officer to sergeant, is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Army National Guard.
He joined the Marines in 1998, and served as a rifleman, radio operator, and mortarman in a local reserve infantry company. In 2003, he was deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom at the rank of corporal, where he served as a team leader in an Anti-Terrorism/Force-Protection Detachment.
He later re-enlisted in the military, this time with the Army National Guard as a paratrooper in a long range surveillance detachment. In 2012, as a sergeant, he deployed with his unit to eastern Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terror.
“There he served as a team leader, assistant patrol leader, and platoon sniper/spotter. Upon completion of his time overseas, Ray was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for his work with the Afghan youth outreach program operated by the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s Civil Affairs detachment. Upon returning from this deployment, Ray attained the rank of staff sergeant and continued service with this unit in the roles of squad leader and platoon sergeant on multiple overseas training missions. Ray currently serves as an Operations NCO in a brigade-level assignment within the Army National Guard,” Coppinger said.
Narciso’s law enforcement career began in January 2000 when he was hired by the Brookfield Police Department. On Sept. 11, 2005, he was hired by West Hartford Police.
Narciso has served in the Patrol and Traffic divisions, and has also been a member of the SWAT team, the Capitol Region Underwater Recovery Dive Team, and in the FTO program. He is also trained as a court liaison officer, and an instructor with the Police Officer Standards and Training Council in 14 different subject areas.
Narciso has earned the Life Saving Award, a unit citation, and a commendation from the West Hartford Fire Department.
Sgt. Amanda Martin
Martin, who has been the School Resource Officer at Conard High School for the past three and a half years, was promoted Monday from officer to the rank of sergeant.
She grew up in Rowley, MA, and after graduating from Triton Regional High School in 2005 she earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Connecticut where she participated in track and field as well as softball. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science in 2010.
“The ability to overcome obstacles and strive to be the best she could be was instilled in her at an early age by her parents, Debbie and Scott,” Coppinger said.
A desire for a career in public service led Martin to pursue a career in public service, and she was hired by the West Hartford Police Department in August 2010.
Martin was assigned to the Patrol Division after graduation from the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden, and remained in Patrol for seven years, working the midnight as well as the day shift.
She has received multiple unit citations, a merit award, and a life-saving award, is a certified bicycle officer and member of the Honor Guard.
“She has attended numerous trainings through the National Association of School Resource Officers pertaining to juvenile law, juvenile crisis intervention, and juvenile education. She is very passionate about community policing and enjoyed the opportunity to bridge gaps and work with the youth of West Hartford,” Coppinger said.
Martin expressed her appreciation to the Conard High School staff for attending her promotion ceremony.
Sgt. John Begin
Just days after being recognized as Exchange Club 2020 Officer of the Year, Begin was again honored, this time for his promotion to sergeant.
Begin, a Connecticut native, grew up in Newington. He was active in town sports, and captain of the Newington High School football team as a senior in the fall of 2003. “The lessons of teamwork, dedication, and overall hard work gained from his athletic endeavors helped shape John as he entered college,” Coppinger said.
Begin attended Endicott College and ultimately graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Throughout college, he participated in internships with the state Department of Corrections as well as local police departments, and decided on a career as a police officer.
Begin joined the West Hartford Police Department on Jan. 18, 2009, and was assigned to the Patrol Division following his graduation from the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden. In 2011, he was selected to become a Field Training Officer, assisting in the training of new officers.
“John quickly realized the importance of the position and worked hard to help produce quality officers for the West Hartford Police Department,” Coppinger said.
From 2012 through 2015, Begin served as a member of a Drug Enforcement Administration Taskforce based out of New Haven.
“During this time, John was credited with making numerous state and federal level arrests as well as seizing over $100,000 in drug-related assets,” Coppinger said. He led or assisted with narcotic enforcement cases not only in Connecticut but also in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York, and had the opportunity to attend multiple federal training courses focusing on narcotic crimes and asset forfeiture at the DEA Academy in Quantico, VA.
Following his DEA assignment, Begin rejoined the Patrol Division, and also served in the Traffic Division, investigating multiple incidents include a fatal motor vehicle crash.
He has been assigned to the Patrol Division’s C-Squad since 2017, has continued to train new officers, and has either made or assisted with numerous arrests for stolen vehicles, burglaries into vehicles, burglaries into businesses, and DUIs.
Begin has received multiple Unit Citations and Police Merit awards, and can now add “2020 Exchange Club Police Officer of the Year” to his collection of awards.
“One of the most difficult promotions and separations is the ranking of sergeant,” Chief Vernon Riddick said to the three who were just promoted to that rank. It’s not only the most difficult, but also the most significant and important rank in any police department.
“I implore you to do your job to the best of your ability. There will be a time where you have to separate friendship … your job is to educate, to mentor, and to guide,” Riddick said.
Before ending the ceremony, Coppinger was recognized by both Cantor, who read a proclamation, and by Riddick, who presented him with a plaque. Coppinger’s wife and children were also in attendance.
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