Anthony Cuozzo was sworn in as Assistant Chief of the Orange Police Department in an outdoor ceremony Thursday afternoon. Cuozzo has served as part of the department for 22 years, moving from patrol to Sergeant in 2002 and Lieutenant in 2003.
After the ceremony, Patch sat down with Cuozzo to find out how he's dealing with his new position and his plans for the future.
You've been assistant chief for about half an hour now. How does it feel?
I'll tell you, It really feels wonderful. And what makes it feel wonderful is all the people that showed up today. It's a wonderful feeling when people come out to honor you for accomplishments. I laughed -- my dentist was here! Retirees, neighbors, relatives … People just came out. It's a wonderful feeling.
You had a lot of family here.
I did. You know, typical large Italian family! We've always been close and we've always shared each other's accomplishments -- and tragedies, in some cases … But to have my aunt here and my cousins, my brother, my sister … It's just great.
You found out just over a week ago. How did it feel when you first found out?
You know, it's humbling. You're in such great company. The other candidates were all top-notch. We've worked side-by-side for most of our careers … We all came up through the ranks. So for the commission to have that kind of faith in you is humbling. You know, the big joke here is that I'm never at a loss for words, but it really does render you speechless. It really was a great moment. Especially for the family. My mom and my wife were all there -- so it's nice to share that.
You've got a lot of experience and you're certainly qualified. Do you feel prepared?
I do, and that's a testament to Chief Gagne and former Assistant Chief Koether. They tell you what your shortcomings are -- they laid it out on the table for me and told me what I needed to work on. The whole idea of education. I left college 20 years ago to come to the police department, and they told me when the position came by that I didn't have the education. Chief Gagne told me, 'You need to think about going back to school.' You know, it's tough when you have teenage kids. But I went back to school at night and pushed through the undergrad and grad … When you make a mistake, you own it, you give it a hug, and you move on from it -- you learn from it. For me, every day is a learning day. I go back and say, what mistakes did I make today and what did I learn today? What could I do better tomorrow? And that prepares you.
And the chief, with all the lieutenants, the command staff, and the sergeants -- all the way down to the youngest patrolman -- is constantly pushing them to be their best and to grow on the job. Because they're the future of the department. We're so lucky here to be able to draw from the ranks as promotions are being made.
Speaking of your degree, you got it in leadership, correct?
I did -- a Master's Degree in Leadership from Albertus Magnus College. It's a degree that focuses on people … And as I said in my speech, we don't make widgets here. Our product is people. Our product is dealing with people in the communities, our men and women who work for us. It's really all about them … The idea that we can put into practice every day the ideas of serving, leadership, community organization, and those types of things -- getting the right people in the right position to move the organization forward -- it's dynamite. It's good stuff.
What are you looking forward to the most in the position?
I'm a technology guy -- always have been. I'd like to see us do more with technology to make the administration and the patrolmen's job easier. We were one of the first departments to go paperless in the cars, computers in the cars. But we still do paper payroll and paper schedule. But that's one idea I'd like to look forward. We're looking into doing data-driven policing -- seeing where the crimes are occurring and trying to do some predictive policing. I can tell you based on statistics where our shopliftings, our traffic accidents and our car breaks are occurring. And hopefully we can position officers to prevent some of those things. And maybe we'll catch a bad guy or two in the process!