Madison's newest police Officer Christopher Sudock was sworn in Friday afternoon in a ceremony at Madison police headquarters attended by his fellow police officers, town officials, and members of his family.
Sudock comes to the Madison Police Department from the state police Major Crime Squad, where he worked on most of the state's major crimes in recent years, including some that involved Madison, said Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm. Before that, Sudock worked as part of Troop I in Bethany, and then as a resident trooper in Bethany.
Drumm said Sudock is a dedicated police officer who has received several decorations and commendations.
From good to great
Both Drumm and Madison Police Commission Chairman Eric Thornburg said hiring officers like Sudock to work with the current officers, who are being continually trained, will help the department get from good to great.
"Chris is one of the people who will help us get to the status of great," Drumm said.
Drumm said Sudock has in-depth training and experience in a wide variety of areas including interrogation, fire scene evidence collection, and that he's an expert marksman, among other areas of strength. He said Sudock also was a driving force behind the development of the Major Crime Squad crime vans.
"Making a commitment to serve with honor"
Thornburg, who attended along with Commissioners Thom Cartledge and Ed Dowling, said by taking the oath Friday, Sudock was "making a commitment to serve with honor."
"Trust is essential to a police department, a community, a state, a nation," he said. "Trust is at the core of what we are doing."
Thornburg said it was the intention of the Madison Police Department to become a "world-class police department."
Investing in current staff, bringing in good people
"We're good, we want to be great," he said. The department will get to great by continuing to invest in its existing staff and by bringing in people like Sudock.
Several in attendance at the ceremony joked that, with Sudock now being the newest police officer, that the recently acquired police dog Paco now has some seniority. Paco joined the gathering after the official swearing in, and playfully made the rounds, to the delight of many in attendance.
Sudock joins several other state police veterans on the Madison police force, including Drumm, Officer Scott Pardales, Officer Harold French, and Det. Richard Perron.
"The best barracks in the state"
"This is the best barracks in the state," French said, after the men had their picture taken together following the ceremony.
Drumm said following the ceremony that, with several recent retirements of longtime officers, the department has a further opportunity to continue right-sizing, while staying within budget and not creating any new positions.
Sgt. Trent Fox retired in October of 2011. Lt. Allen Gerard retired in March of this year. Captain Jon Pardo retired Thursday and Officer John McDevitt has announced his intention to retire at the end of June.
Changes in retirement benefits prompt retirements
Gerard, Pardo, and McDevitt decided to retire in large part because of imminent changes in pension and retirement benefits, Drumm has said. Officers who started before Jan. 1, 2006 stand to lose generous retiree medical benefits if they stay. Both Drumm and Thornburg said they did not know whether other longtime officers were planning to retire.
"We don't know for sure," Thornburg said. "We know some have asked about it."
Drumm said the retirements will allow him to make additional changes to the department, a process he started when he was hired in January 2010.
Working side by side
His goal is to have six strong sergeants, three investigators, and sixteen patrol officers, he said. By strong sergeants, he said, he means sergeants who will act as direct supervisors on the road, who work alongside the patrol officers, rather than supervising them from headquarters.
The department structure currently includes a captain, three lieutenants, two sergeants, three detectives, and 16 patrol officers.
Drumm has said it was difficult to see talented, longtime officers leave, including Captain Jon Pardo, who was his second in command. Drumm said he intends to have a second in command, someone who reports directly to him and is not in the union, but he said he did not know whether it would be a captain or another position. He said that would be, in part, up to the police commission.