Gatepost Interview: Deputy Chief of Police John Santoro

(Photo by Melina Bourdeau)

What is your work experience and educational background?

This upcoming Saturday will mark my fourth-year anniversary here at the University. So I’ve been here as a Deputy Chief since then. Prior to coming here, I served as a police officer in Methuen, Massachusetts for over 20 years. While there, I worked in various roles. … I served as the Emergency Management Director assigned to city hall, and prior to that, I was in detectives. Prior to that, I was in patrol, and then prior to 20 years ago at Methuen, I was a police officer at other places as well. I currently hold a master’s degree from Western New England University. … It’s a master’s in criminal justice administration. … My bachelor’s degree I got from Hesser College, which is now Mount Washington University. I received a bachelor’s there, and two associate degrees, and I got an associate degree at Johnson and Wales College. … So I have three associates, a bachelor’s and a master’s.

What is your job description and responsibilities?

I’m second in command of this police department. …On a day-to-day basis, I oversee operations … or when the chief is out sick, I take command of the police department, or when he’s away, but day-to-day, I oversee operations which is … the daily functions of a police department, like the patrol. I oversee training. I oversee the medical side of the department because I’m also a licensed EMT … so I oversee emergency management of the department, and for the most part, the University as well, which is huge. Recruiting, hiring, retention, training, a whole bunch.

Can you describe your recent Trilogy Award from the FBI LEEDA program?

For my award, I have a lapel pin, a pin to wear on my uniform, and then my actual plaque is awarded in Memphis in April. I don’t know if I’ll be attending because school will still be in session, but if I don’t attend, they will ship it up here to me. … FBI has several levels of training. The highest level of training they have for non-FBI agents … is the national academy, which is a very selective process, and it’s an eight-month program, but I didn’t go to that level. The next level down is called LEEDS, and then the next level is LEEDA. So basically, what they do is they take the best of the national academy and they take it on the road, because for the national academy, you have to go to their headquarters and you live there Monday through Friday for eight to 10 weeks. … LEEDA takes the actual classes into local communities, so it’s easier for the police officers, executives and leaders to get there. … So they focused it down on the key, key things, which are the three levels of the supervisor institute, the command level institute and the executive level institute.

What did you do during the LEEDA program?

… I did executive first, then I did command and then I did supervisor training. So there are approximately three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half days, so it adds up to about 100 hours all together. … I’m the first one here at the department to complete any of the training and I’m the first one to complete all of the trainings and part of me going there was not only to learn this leadership mentality and management styles they show us there, but it was also to examine it and check it out for sending some of our future members of our department … in order to take those and apply them in a way to do my job on a regular basis. … It’s just really to substantiate and solidify what you do and give you those tidbits and direction and guidance for things in the future.

What is something students might be surprised to know about you?

Something surprising a lot of people don’t know about me is I grew up in the restaurant industry and I’m a trained professional chef. I’ve owned restaurants, and my family currently owns a restaurant now. … And most recently, probably within the past almost five years, I’ve taken up acting and I’ve appeared in several films. Most recently, we just wrapped on “Ghostbusters.” I have a small role, as a police officer nonetheless, in the finale and a couple other scenes. … It’s one of my passions, especially now that my twins are off at school. This is my true passion, here, but I guess one of my alter-egos is acting.

What advice would you give to students?

I think education is very important and never should be underestimated or underrated. … Who knows when it may come up for you, and in the end, it keeps your mind active and sharp, so I think going to school is all worth it. Whether you go to a community college or an Ivy League school, whether you go full-time or part-time, whether it takes you four years to complete your degree or 40, education is very important. … For living on a college campus, be safe and do the right thing and don’t give in to peer pressure.

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