After one year in office, Police Chief Cuzzupoli reflects on “Community Policing”

By on August 5, 2019
Brockport Police Chief Mark Cuzzupoli displays some of the nearly 40 donated stuffed animals the Police Department received. These toys will be carried in patrol cars to be given to children they may encounter in difficult situations. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

Brockport Police Chief Mark Cuzzupoli displays some of the nearly 40 donated stuffed animals the Police Department received. These toys will be carried in patrol cars to be given to children they may encounter in difficult situations. Photo by Dianne Hickerson

“Brockport Police Chief Mark Cuzzupoli has made a huge and welcomed difference in public relations with the police,” Mayor Margay Blackman said. “He’s a firm believer in community policing and has his officers out walking part of their beat on the streets.”

After 25 years in the Brockport Police Department, Mark began as Chief on April 1, 2018. The Chief was asked when he started the interaction with the public. “We have always been doing it, but the command staff and I felt we had to double the interactive communication,” he said. Lieutenant Stephen Mesiti, Sergeant Paul Wheat, and Sergeant Robert Hagen are part of his command staff as well as his administrative assistant, Bambie Zimmerman. “They all share ideas and support what I want to accomplish with the Police Department,” he said.

In community policing, officers visit the Middle School, The Welcome Center, and the playgrounds. Every year kindergarteners from Brockport Central School go on field trips to the police station in small groups to see the place where they work and to learn more about their job. Officers patrol Village streets (including bike patrol) where they meet shoppers and residents. Police dog K-9 Brock with Officer Sime have also been a key part of the community policing effort. “The people like the personal contact and thank us for what we’re doing; it’s the best thing for a police officer,” Chief Cuzzupoli said, “and if they see something wrong happening, they know they can come to us for help.” 

The Chief also started a project in which officers carry donated stuffed toys in their patrol cars for children they might encounter in difficult situations. (See photo.)

“There are so many things our officers do in the community,” he said. “They have volunteered for the Special Olympics Polar Plunge, and for Camp Abilities on The College at Brockport campus. They provided an ice cream social for Challenger Baseball, and participated in the Holiday Lights Parade.” The officers are members of the Stetson Club police union. “As chief, I cannot be a member,” he said. “But I am honored and thankful that they invite me to be involved as one team.”

The Chief said community policing is balanced with law enforcement. In the tougher side of police work they respond to “something wrong” going on in the community. That could be anything from robbery, assaults and homicide to traffic violations and disorderly conduct.

“I believe that Mark has fundamentally changed law enforcement in Brockport … with emphasis on relationship building.” Those words came from Bill Plews who is a leader in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The Chief had asked Bill to help him arrange a meeting with area churches to get feedback for the Police Department. Bill gathered an interfaith group to help foster interaction and get citizens’ ideas for the chief.

Mayor Blackman said in closing: “Mark Cuzzupoli has roots here, and those roots are important. He grew up in the Brockport area, attended Brockport schools and graduated from The College at Brockport. Mark knows the community, its quirks and secrets. He’s a people person, a humble, down-to-earth guy with a wry sense of humor. The kind of police chief everyone can relate to.”