After spending the first six decades of his life in Woodbridge, Police Chief Eugene Marcucci — known to many simply as Gene — is ready to move south. The chief is retiring at the beginning of the New Year. His last day on the job will be January 4.
“I’ll be retiring to Florida,” he said. The golf aficionado does not want to experience another winter with mounds of snow and related problems. As retirees, he and his wife Jeanine will be able to visit their daughters and grandkids for several weeks at a time. The young families are living on the West Coast, one in California and the other in Seattle. Like other so-called snow-birds, the Marcuccis do plan to visit their old hometown in the summer, but renting rather than owning a home.
Jeanine Marcucci worked for years as an assistant to the Amity superintendent, but has been retired for a few years already.
Gene Marcucci joined the force in 1974, at a time when the Police Department consisted of a dozen or so officers and was housed in the Town Hall basement. “Officers were dispatched from their homes,” he remembered. Richie Ciarleglio was the chief back then. Marcucci stayed with the department and rose through the ranks. When Chief Bill Garfield died in a freak hunting accident in 1999, Dennis Phipps was made chief and Marcucci his deputy. Two years later, he left to join Travelers Insurance as a special investigator. When Phipps resigned in 2004, the late First Selectman Ed Sheehy called Marcucci back to take the helm. “Woodbridge is a great community to work in, a great community to be brought up in,” Marcucci said in an interview in his office recently.
First Selectman Ellen Scalettar expressed her appreciation for his many years of service. “The Town of Woodbridge is grateful to Chief Marcucci for his many years of service and leadership,” she commented in an email. “We wish him all good things in his retirement.”
Times have changed since Marcucci first started. The chief is supervising a force of 26 officers plus about 10 civilians, and the situations and issues that arise are more complicated than what they seemed in his youth. Police are first responders, and with the senior care facilities in town, are called to help frequently, both on the road and in private homes. In the past 10 years since he’s been chief, the officers responded to 24 bank robberies; to home invasions, burglaries, robberies and sex assaults. Those investigations are in addition to patrols, traffic arrests, and community policing. “These guys are busy, they really are,” he said of his crew.
The fact that two officers are permanently stationed at the schools — Officer Lynch at Beecher Road School and Officer Robert Scott at the High School — is an important community outreach, but exacerbates the perennial shortage of officers who strive to provide 24/7 coverage.
Right around the time of his departure, the department is expecting two new recruits to start their careers with the Woodbridge department. The need for more officers to cover all shifts will not go away and surely will come up again at budget time, Marcucci said. Another unfinished project is the renovation of police headquarters in the former Center School. The department is currently housed in the basement of what used to be town’s elementary school. A vestige of that are a couple of child-sized toilets that are still available to the police officers.
Marcucci measures his success as a chief mainly in what he could do for those who work in the department. “I take care of the men and employees of the police department,” he said. “He’ll be missed by his department and by the town,” said Police Commission Chairman Robert Berke. Berke said the Police Commission is conducting the search for a new chief. The opening has been posted on woodbridgepd.com, and applicants from within the department are encouraged to respond. Interviews will be conducted in January. The commission, at its next meeting, will work out coverage for the interim period, he said.
Pictured: Police Chief Eugene Marcucci (right) and his deputy, Ray Stuart, stand together after the Veterans Day ceremony. Marcucci was attending as a private citizen.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent