A West Hartford Police officer was honored Wednesday day night in a ceremony at Town Hall.
By Ronni Newton
West Hartford Police Chief Vernon L. Riddick hosted a promotion ceremony Wednesday night, honoring Ryan Riley who has been promoted from officer to the rank of sergeant effective Jan. 13.
Riley is a native of West Hartford, who attended Wolcott Elementary School, Sedgwick Middle School, and graduated from Conard High School.
He was hired by the West Hartford Police Department as an officer in the Patrol Division in 2009, but while in high school he worked for the police as part of the town’s Facilities Department.
It takes many hours of hard work and preparation to earn the promotion, Riddick said, adding, “One of the most difficult promotions to take is from patrol officer to to sergeant, because the very same people you’re riding in the cruiser with you now have to supervise. … Your buddies know all your dirt.”
At the same time, Riddick said, one of the most rewarding positions to have is sergeant, with the opportunity to train and mentor but at the same time still be actively involved from time-to-time, pulling over cars, chasing down drug dealers.
Assistant Chief Dan Coppinger provided some highlights of Riley’s career.
“It wasn’t long before Ryan earned the reputation as a very proactive officer, and found his niche in conducting criminal investigations,” Coppinger said. “That same year, Ryan was awarded a Police Merit award as a rookie officer for investigating a complicated burglary investigation that led to an arrest and conviction of a serial burglar.”
Riley became a Field Training Officer in 2013, and has trained and developed dozens of new officers following their graduation from the Police Academy.
He was also named to the Community Interaction Team (CIT) in 2013. “While serving in this unit, Ryan and his partners were instrumental in suppressing criminal activity throughout town making multiple felony arrests on a weekly basis,” said Coppinger.
Riley has also worked in the Traffic Division, serves as a mentor for a middle school student in West Hartford Public Schools, and was selected by his peers as the American Legion Police Officer of the Year in 2015. “In the nomination, it was noted that Ryan was self-motivated, self disciplined and a role model for new officers. Ryan consistently demonstrates a dedication to duty and an infectious positive attitude with both the public and his co-workers,” said Coppinger.
In his 10 years as an officer, Riley has received three departmental citations, three police merit awards, seven unit citations, and dozens of citizen commendations, Coppinger said.
He mentioned several notable cases, including the arrest of a home and car burglar Riley found with a GPS device that identified “home” as one of the locations where thefts had occurred; the quick apprehension of two convicted felons who had just committed a shooting in Hartford, and recovery of a stolen handgun; and, as part of CIT, through a motor vehicle stop finding the suspects in a residential burglary that had just taken place in Glastonbury and recovering $15,000 in stolen merchandise.
Town Manager Matt Hart, who administered the oath of office, thanked and congratulated Riley on his promotion.
“We truly appreciate your service to the department, and to our community. It certainly isn’t an easy job but it’s a very important one,” Hart said. “Your career, the way you’ve approached your career to date, is really a testament to the caliber of your service to our organization.”
Hart also thanked the many other members of the West Hartford Police Department who were in attendance for “the work that everyone does on behalf of our community, every day.”
With Riley’s promotion, the West Hartford Police Department now has 12 sergeants. Riddick said that an evaluation of the department indicated that more are needed, and he has the support of the town manager to add a thirteenth.
Deacon Dennis Ferguson gave the invocation at the ceremony.
Riley has an associate’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Hartford and is currently completing his bachelor’s in public safety administration at Charter Oak State College.
Riley was pinned by his wife, Elizabeth. The couple lives in West Hartford and are expecting their first baby in June.
Many members of Riley’s extended family also attending the promotion ceremony.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!