This original interview appeared in the January 7th Edition of the Citizen News, serving Sherman and New Fairfield, Connecticut.
Article and Photo by Alicia Sakal
Last January, Trooper First Class Michael Saraceno met with the Citizen News for an interview. One year later, Citizen News checked in with him again to see how he is liking the job and what advice he would like to give Sherman residents.
For starters, and right before the New Year, Trooper Saraceno is finally working out of his new office, which is located inside the new Sherman Offices of Emergency Services facility. As for how he is liking the new “digs”, he loves the new office and location because, when compared to the old barracks, “it’s more centrally located and easier for new residents and visitors to find. It’s also a brand new building with convenient modern upgrades, which makes day to day operations more convenient.”
Since taking the Resident State Trooper position for Sherman back in August of 2012, he has settled in nicely with the Town and takes pride in being an integral part of the Sherman community. Not only is he the go-to professional police officer, but he is also a friend, counselor, and someone to talk with for many residents, which goes beyond the call of duty. Trooper Saraceno considers this to be a luxury because, unlike busy cities with high crime rates, he is a dedicated Resident State Trooper who, literally, responds to every single call. In other words, larger towns and cities just can’t respond to everything whereas he can answer non-police related calls such as handicap assistance and asking for directions or take less routine calls like suspicious mail fraud and neighbor complaints.
When asked what a typical day is like, Trooper Saraceno replied “it’s anything but typical and that’s what I thoroughly enjoy the most about being the Town’s devoted trooper. Every day is different. Most days I am bouncing from call-to-call, then there are the quieter days in which I can catch up on some paperwork. My days are a different kind of busy when compared to when I was a highway patrol state trooper for the first 12 years of my career.”
What he enjoys the most about his job is that he does more personal community policing and has more autonomy to make his own decisions right as an incident happens instead of having to wait for instructions. Trooper Saraceno also disclosed that his biggest challenge when crime happens is that he is by himself. However, all he needs to do is pick-up the phone to call for more help, backup, and assistance.
When asked for an example of an eventful, atypical day he has experienced to-date, Trooper Saraceno stated with a concerned expression “there is never a dull moment, and all of my cases are extremely confidential. However, what I can disclose is that even in Sherman crime exists such as criminal mischief, burglaries, domestic violence, and neighbor disputes. Unfortunately, these incidents are all part of the course.”
As for giving advice to Sherman residents, Trooper Saraceno said with a matter of urgency “the biggest thing you can do is to lock your homes, doors, and cars. The reality is that crime happens everywhere. Cars are broken into, houses are burglarized… Whatever you do, DO NOT wait until Monday to report a crime.”
He continued to say, “believe it or not, if crimes happen over a weekend, some Sherman residents have actually waited to report a burglary until Monday morning. The reason why… they think nobody covers me whenever I am not on duty during the weekends because my normal work hours are Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This is just not true. Sherman has 24 / 7 backup and its part of what the Resident State Trooper Program is all about. Report the crime right away and DON’T destroy the evidence by cleaning. Calling Emergency 911 will do it. The phones transfer where they should for backup. Landlines automatically go to the appropriate agency. Cell phones automatically go to the closest police agency based on the cell tower.”
Regarding Sherman’s Emergency Backup Plan, there are crossovers in place if an emergency happens. As an example, if a resident dials the regular Sherman police phone number, 860.354.3750, then after five rings the phone call rolls over to the State Police Dispatch. From there, the call gets immediate assistance from New Milford, New Fairfield, and also the New York County Sheriff’s office if something happens directly on the state line. Trooper Saraceno also said “there’s always an additional patrol trooper assigned to New Fairfield and Sherman, even though both towns have their own dedicated troopers. This Resident State Trooper patrols and rotates between both towns.”
In the State of Connecticut, Trooper Saraceno also shared that, “according to cga.ct.gov, 56 out of the 81 state police towns that do not have local police departments participate in the Resident State Trooper Program. As for the towns that do not participate, likely due to a matter of funding, they are at the mercy of 911 and their calls get picked up randomly.” Trooper Saraceno is part of Troop A, based out of Southbury. Sherman’s neighboring towns that participate in the Resident State Trooper Program: New Fairfield, Roxbury, Bridgewater, and Oxford. Troop A’s territory is expansive, from Danbury – I-84 to the New York line to Cheshire – Exits 27 & 28, then to Route 8 in Waterbury – Exits 29 through 36.
When asked about where all of the speed traps are in Sherman, Trooper Dean Dubois walked into Trooper Saraceno’s office to check-in and he overheard the question. Trooper Dubois answered “there is no real set speed trap. What is a speed trap, anyway? Nobody is trapping anyone. Speed traps are a myth, along with monthly quotas. There is a Connecticut Statute that was passed into law years ago, making it illegal to have quotas.” Trooper Saraceno then added, “I only have three options… routes 39, 37, and 55, to catch the serious offenders that we’re really after who endanger themselves and others on the roads. I pick various locations on these state routes and I rotate them. It’s challenging to find a nice, safe location to patrol these roads because Sherman is so rural.”
As for Sherman’s rank as the #1 safest town in the State of Connecticut for 2013, according to the State Department of Emergency Services, Trooper Saraceno said that “unofficially” Sherman should be on track to receive this title again for 2014. This really only means that “the reported crime activity is at the same level in 2014 as it was for 2013 in Sherman.”