Capt. Robert Ciccolo comes from a long line of police officers in his family, but that didn’t mean he knew he wanted to be a police officer too.
In fact, the 37-year veteran said it took him awhile to decide his line of work, which was cemented after joining the Boston Police Cadet program in the 1980s. Now, he is the new leader of the Charlestown and Downtown Police Area (A-15 and A-1), coming from a supervisory role on the Night Command for the North of the City – which included Charlestown.
“Policing wasn’t always my first choice,” he said. “I was a young man who wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. It wasn’t like all my life I wanted to be a cop like my dad. I wasn’t sure as a teen. Then I graduated high school and decided to look at the cadet program. The Cadets are wonderful because it allowed me to work in the Police Department before I actually became a police officer.”
Ciccolo’s father was a Boston Police Officer, and so was his uncle. He also has a niece and a nephew who are Boston Police Officers as well. He joined the Cadets in 1983, and was officially sworn in as an officer in 1987.
Ciccolo has a very diverse career within BPD. He was a patrolman and sergeant in Mattapan and a lieutenant in Jamaica Plain and the Station Captain in Hyde Park for a time. He’s been the commander of the dispatch operations and also led the Hackney Division. Most recently, he spent the last four and a half years as the Night Commander for the North Zone.
One of the things he likes is the changes one can make within the department.
“It’s a wonderful job in you can have so many different jobs without leaving the same employer,” he said. “There are such a wide variety of functions you can work at. I think a benefit of a large department is you can re-invigorate yourself periodically by making such changes.”
And, of course, change is a key word these days in policing and Ciccolo said he is concentrating as a leader on listening to the community and making sure people are safe, and that they also feel safe. He said he wants the community, the young people, to tell him things that the Police might do that make them uneasy so there is a better understanding.
“We took the job to make people feel safe and to make them physically safe,” he said. “If there is a segment of the community that we’re making to feel unsafe, we need to re-envision how we approach this work because we’re not making them feel safe – and that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do…There is a lot of discussion going on now, but I think ultimately all of the discussion will lead us on a better path to making people feel safe.”
Right now, Ciccolo said he is trying to get a feel for the community – all the way from Charlestown to Bay Village and everything in between. While COVID-19 has made that awkward, he said he is still getting out to the public face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) as much as possible.
“The variety within the district is a little staggering,” he said. “It’s essentially everything from Bay Village to Charlestown – including Chinatown, Beacon Hill, the North End and the West End. It’s invigorating just because of the sheer variety of places.”