Greenfield adds 2 full-time police officers
GREENFIELD — The Police Department is building back up to a full force as they added two officers this week.
Felix Ramos and Justin Purinton became the department’s newest full-time officers on Thursday.
Both joined the ranks through the department’s Special Officer Program. The program started in August of 2011, with Ramos becoming the first special officer. Purinton became a special officer the following year.
Special officers are used to supplement patrols, fill in open shifts and work large events.
“We did everything a normal patrol officer would,” said Purinton.
Special officers also receive the same training as full-time police, and are subject to the same background checks. They just couldn’t work full-time until they took the state’s Civil Service test.
Both took the exam last May, but had to wait until December to find out how they did.
They passed and became eligible to be permanent full-time officers.
On Thursday, the word “special” was stricken from their titles as they were sworn in by Chief Robert Haigh Jr. and Mayor William Martin.
Before becoming a special officer, Ramos had been out on a few ride-alongs, which his uncle, a former Greenfield police officer, helped to arrange.
“I liked it, and I decided to explore a career in law enforcement,” he said.
Ramos said one of his more interesting assignments has been working at a twice-annual music festival.
“Wormtown is maybe the most memorable experience of my two years,” he said. “It’s an interesting place to be.”
The three-day, three-night festival at Camp Kee-wanee is attended by about 8,000 people. That’s nearly half of Greenfield’s population squeezed into 33 acres.
While both enjoy helping out during large events in town, they got into the job for the chance to work among the community and help people.
“You get a lot of satisfaction from helping people when they need it,” said Purinton. “I also love that it’s not a desk job. Nothing’s the same from day to day.”
Purinton decided to become a police officer after completing a 72-hour internship with the department while attending Greenfield Community College. It included several four-hour ride-alongs.
At the time, he wasn’t sure what to major in, but his internship decided it.
Purinton went on to earn an associate’s degree in criminal justice.
Ramos said he will eventually seek a degree in criminal justice, but for now, he’ll continue to learn on the job.
The Special Officer Program started under former Chief David Guilbault, who got his start through a similar auxiliary police officer program in 1974.
Haigh said the Special Officer Program makes for an easy transition for everyone when someone’s ready to become a full-fledged police officer. The chief hopes to continue to use the program to bring new officers on board.
“This is part of an effort to plug holes in our staffing,” said Haigh.
Haigh hopes to build the department back up to 40 officers. With the swearing-in of Ramos and Purinton, the department now has 33. Haigh hopes to promote two more special officers by July. The chief plans to bring in the remaining five over time, as the budget allows.