By Kathy Brown.
As of October 1, 2019, Haddam Resident State Trooper Enrico “Rico” Milardo will be retiring from the Connecticut State Police, but continuing in law enforcement as a Police Constable for the town of Westbrook. Milardo, born and raised in the Middletown area, has been Haddam’s Resident Trooper since 2010. He became a State Trooper in 1998, after volunteering as a Middletown Police Auxiliary Officer for three years. Prior to becoming Haddam’s trooper, he served both Troop K and then Troop F.
While in the State Police Academy, Trooper Milardo received 1400 hours of classroom training, including accident reconstruction and investigation, penal code, criminal investigation, DUI investigation training and certification, conflict resolution, firearms training, self defense, patrol techniques, and report writing. It also included many hours of physical conditioning, water rescue, and emergency vehicle driving. Troopers also have annual requalification training in firearms, Taser training, basic emergency medical, and other areas. Trooper Milardo has also been a certified D.A.R.E instructor since 2011.
Trooper Milardo received an Exemplary Service Award from the Hartford Police Department in 2001, and Unit citation Awards in 2001, 2004, and 2010. He received the Meritorious Service Award for assisting in the capture of two suspects involved in an Old Saybrook robbery incident in 2013, that led to the shooting and wounding of a state police detective. He has also been a Connecticut State Police Field Training Officer since 2003.
“I would like to thank Trooper Milardo for all of his hard work and dedication to the town,” said First Selectman Lizz Milardo. “He will be missed.”
While in Haddam, Trooper Milardo was involved in Haddam-Killingworth Youth & Family Services, and the Healthy Communities/Healthy Kids Coalition, which is a collaborative effort to control underage drinking. He was also involved with the Juvenile Review Board, which is an alternative to the Juvenile Justice System. The main objective of the JRB is to provide an alternative for juveniles age 16 and under who are in conflict at home, in school, in the community, or are first time offenders.
“Officer Milardo is one of those people who ‘gets’ people,” said Laurie Ruderfer, the Executive Director of Youth & Family Services of H-K since the summer of 2018. “Over the past year we have had benefit of his presence at events to the benefit of our agency (Pumpkin Run, Dodgeball), the community (Drug Take Back Day) and individual families (Holiday-Stuff-a-Cruiser) and he has been an active and key member of our Juvenile Review Board/JRB.” She went on to say, “He has been our go-to source for information that pertains to the laws and protections as they apply to youth and families and has consistently demonstrated the unique role of the Resident State Trooper at bringing youth, families, and the entire community, together. I personally want to thank him for the welcome he extended to me over this past year and for his wise counsel. Westbrook is lucky to get him—he will be missed.”
Resident Troopers respond to a wide range of calls ranging from cyber crimes and identity theft to domestic disturbances, from motor vehicle accidents to residential and commercial alarms, to burglaries and assaults, robberies and larcenies, and vandalism. They conduct traffic enforcement, direct traffic during special events, patrol town residential and business areas, conduct community events such as a mock car accident at Haddam Killingworth High School each May, educate high school students of the dangers of alcohol during prom season, public presentations, and conduct under-age drinking enforcement patrols in conjunction with the Healthy Communities/Heathy Kids Coalition.
“Rico is a critical member of the high school team,” said Interim Superintendent, Holly Hageman. “We regularly communicate about students of concern, in a collaborative effort to keep kids on track. He is also our “go to” resource for event coverage. Not only does he never need guidance on where we need him; he brings humor and camaraderie to the sidelines as well.
It is quite common for Rico to take time out of his day to have a conversation with a student about how their choices will positively (or negatively) impact their life path. He does this in a direct, but supportive way that is “unofficial business” but is highly effective in reaching teens at a crossroads.
Rico has always been quick to respond when I needed his input or an official police action. He is always a text or phone call away and there are no “days off” when it comes to the safety of our kids. One of the best examples of this happened a few years ago when one of our students was the target of an online predator. The situation was incredibly serious and, having contacted Rico the moment after I learned of the danger to one of our girls, he and I partnered together to get between the perpetrator and HK. Rico worked quickly with the state police in a mid-western state and within hours the perpetrator was arrested, his computer confiscated. His quick work saved one young girl from the potentially far-reaching damage of an online attack.
While I am so happy for Rico in his retirement, his departure is a tremendous loss for our school community!”
“When Trooper Milardo told me about his retirement, I knew that it was a great move for him — but it would be an incredible loss to the community,” said Haddam Volunteer Fire Company Chief, Sam Baber. “Milardo’s knowledge, acumen, and progressive thinking have benefited the Haddam community as a whole. Haddam Fire will greatly miss the camaraderie and interactions with him.”
Resident Troopers also handle numerous administrative office duties including finger printing for town residents seeking employment or pistol permits, preparing arrest warrant applications during criminal investigations, completing motor vehicle accident and criminal investigation reports, filing, and applying for grants. “Some criminal investigations can be very challenging,” said Trooper Milardo. “But I still found it rewarding and satisfying whenever I solved a crime.”
“It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with Trooper Milardo,” said Trooper First Class Joe DeAngelo, Haddam’s other Resident Trooper. “During his 20 plus year career, he has gathered significant insight into what makes a State Trooper effective and how the Resident Trooper program has an intimate and direct impact on the towns that we serve. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside him.”
“My favorite part of being a Resident Trooper in the town of Haddam was that you get to know many of the residents, which fosters better understanding and trust,” said Trooper Milardo. “Haddam is a close knit community where people look out for each other, which is an asset to the Resident Troopers.”
“I will miss seeing all the friends I have made professionally and personally over the last 10 years in Haddam, Higganum, and Haddam Neck, as well as Regional School District 17, who have been extremely supportive to me and the Connecticut State Police,” said Trooper Milardo. “The positive relationship between the HK schools and the state police is very important.”
Trooper DeAngelo will move to day shift, and a new night shift trooper will be chosen for the Haddam Resident Trooper office.
Photos provided by Trooper Milardo, except Durham Fair photo, taken by Kathy Brown.
Edited 9/26/19 to add Holly Hageman’s contribution.