Beyond the Badge: Learn Who Protects Our Village
By Marina Kiriakou -
There's one part of our Village that never sleeps, and that's the Mamaroneck Village Police Department. This dedicated force of fifty-one individuals is responsible for the safety and well-being of our community. While we find comfort in knowing they're always there for us, sometimes the barrier of a uniform creates a sense of separation. With this in mind, we offer an inside view into the Department and some of its people.
The VOM Police Department consists of a diverse team of officers, including six full-time detectives specializing in general investigations, domestic violence, and new cases. Additionally, the department has officers on bicycles and motorcycles who are assigned to traffic and patrol duties. Officer Brian Colasacco can be seen around town with his K9 partner, Ike. The two-year-old female Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, who recently completed her second round of training, assists in regular police work, narcotics searches, and tracking offenders who have fled the scene.
Leading the Department is Chief Sandra DiRuzza, a native of Mamaroneck who pursued a career in law enforcement as her second calling. Previously an insurance executive with Oxford Health in White Plains, DiRuzza felt compelled to enter public service following the events of 9/11. She joined the Academy and steadily climbed the ranks, becoming Chief of the Mamaroneck Village Police in 2020. Her leadership has made a significant impact both within the department and on the streets.
"The Chief has truly made a difference in our Village; she's doing an excellent job,” says Catherine Carney, Vice President of the Larchmont Mamaroneck Food Pantry located on Mamaroneck Avenue. “The officers make an effort to know people by name, interact with children, and even lend a helping hand."
Indeed, community engagement is a top priority for Chief DiRuzza. She encourages officers to take a few minutes during patrols to greet and connect with people in the area. “Often, our interactions with law enforcement occur during emergencies or emotional situations. The department wants residents to know that their local police officers are approachable and always there to support them,” says DiRuzza.
A Noteworthy Accomplishment
After twenty years of striving for New York Law Enforcement Accreditation, Chief DiRuzza has led the way to pursue this achievement for the Department. (Note: they are currently going through the assessment as of the writing of this article.) Only 838 out of approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States are accredited, that’s less than 1 percent, according to the Department of Justice website. This voluntary program is designed to enhance an agency's effectiveness, promote training, and inspire public confidence in law enforcement. Many law enforcement agencies don’t pursue the Accreditation because the application process is rigorous and time-consuming; one dedicated staff member managed the application process for the Department over 18 months. However, the benefits have already proven worthwhile.
"Being in the accreditation process allows us to apply for grants that support our training programs and enforcement initiatives," explains DiRuzza. "We were able to submit a grant proposal to the Department of Justice for body cameras and received funding in December 2021." These cameras were deployed to patrol officers in May and are now in active use.
Lock it Up
Crime in Mamaroneck reflects trends like those in neighboring communities. "We continue to see theft of catalytic converters and larceny of vehicles," says DiRuzza. "We urge residents to remain vigilant and always lock their cars, whether parked on the streets or driveways."
"Coffee with a Cop"
On Wednesday, October 4th, the VOM Police Department has organized an informal event to bring together officers and community members to discuss local issues, foster relationships, and enjoy a cup of coffee. “Coffee with a Cop” will be held at McDonald's, located at 1205 W Boston Post Rd in Mamaroneck, from 8:00-10:00 a.m.
Stop by McDonald's next week or take a moment to say hello to a police officer whenever you encounter one. It's a wonderful way to build a stronger and more connected neighborhood.
Chief Sandra DiRuzza