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West Hartford Police Celebrate Promotions – We-Ha

West Hartford Police Celebrate Promotions – We-Ha

The West Hartford Police Department held a promotion ceremony for three members on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

From left: Asst. Chief Rob Riccobon, Town Manager Rick Ledwith, Lt. Ross Friedman, Det. Merrick Forader, ACO Kimberly Gulino, Asst. Chief Larry Terra and Chief Vernon Riddick. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo Credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Police Department training room was packed with family, friends and other department members to celebrate three promotions.

Tuesday’s honorees included newly promoted Lt. Ross Friedman, Detective Merrick Forader and Animal Control Officer Kimberly Gulino, who was named Animal Control Division manager.

“In addition to recognizing our three promotions, these ceremonies provide a wonderful opportunity to honor all members of our Police Department,” said City Manager Rick Ledwith. “Thank you for all you do every day to keep our community safe.”

City Manager Rick Ledwith. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

He told those promoted that their promotions were “a testament to the hard work, perseverance and positive impact they have had on our department” and wished them continued success.

Chief Vernon Riddick said the promotion process takes a lot of work to get to the next level, and he thanked the three who made the move. Noting the cliché of leading a horse to water, he said: “When you take on leadership, part of your role is to ask, ‘Why isn’t this horse drinking?’” Finding the “why” is very important, Riddick said.

Chief Vernon Riddick. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

Reading a quote about leadership from the late Secretary of State Colin Powell, the boss urged newcomers to fight the perception that it was “just a job. … You guys led from the front, the middle and sometimes from the back.”

Riddick thanked and encouraged the newly promoted and urged them to continue their professional development. “Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know,” he said.

Assistant Chief Larry Terra read the biographies of three promoted officers, who were sworn in by Ledwith and pinned to a board by family members.

Lt. Ross Friedman. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

Lt. Ross Friedman

Friedman moved to Connecticut with his wife and then-6-month-old daughter when he joined the West Hartford Police Department in July 2012. Since then, he has held multiple positions on all three shifts.

His assignments include Patrol Division, Detective Division (as a detective and sergeant), seven years as a SWAT team operator and sniper in the Emergency Services Unit, Field Training Officer and Taser and Arrest and Control instructor. He was also a member of the Traffic Division’s Fatal Accident Reconstruction Team, West Hartford Auto Theft Task Force, Bicycle Unit Supervisor and part of the Professional Standards Unit. During his tenure, he was also the Field Training and Evaluation Program Coordinator and Digital Evidence Supervisor.

He completed a counterterrorism course at the Direct Action Resource Center law enforcement agency in Little Rock, Alaska, and as of 2020, he is a licensed drone pilot and leads the department’s aviation unit, which currently has eight pilots and a state-of-the-art fleet.

Friedman received a lifesaving award for responding to a stabbing victim in 2018 and a unit commendation for responding to an incident in 2019 in which an intoxicated suspect threatened to shoot police in an attempt to commit “suicide by cop” near a local elementary school. The suspect was eventually subdued with a stun gun, and then-Detective Friedman “removed a fully loaded 9mm handgun from the suspect’s hand,” Terra said, before the suspect was safely taken into custody.

Another notable incident in Friedman’s career was what initially seemed like a routine call about a man soliciting without a license who turned out to have an outstanding warrant for his arrest for failure to pay a ticket. Terra recounted that while another officer was arresting the suspect, Friedman noticed that his fingerprints had been shaved off and “had a feeling that something fishy was going on with this arrestee.” The suspect also had a distinctive tattoo on his forehead, and Friedman’s fortuitous call to the Camden County (New Jersey) Police Department led to the discovery that the suspect “was an unfounded suspect in a shooting involving two police officers and their young child” and was on the run from his department, as well as being wanted by the FBI’s Violent Gang Task Force. The suspect was extradited to face multiple charges, including attempted murder.

Lt. Ross Friedman pinned by his wife. West Hartford Police Department promotion ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

Friedman has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UConn and is currently working on a master’s degree in public administration from the University of New Haven. He is also a 2021 graduate of the Capital Region Chiefs of Police Association’s first leadership academy and a 2023 graduate of the Southern Police Institute’s Command Officer Development course.

Det. Merrick Forader. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

Detective Merrick Forader

Forader, whose grandfather and uncles were police officers in Connecticut, joined the West Hartford Police Department in 2017 after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, where he achieved the rank of captain.

Forader, who attended the University of Connecticut as a member of the ROTC program, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminology and was commissioned on active duty as a second lieutenant after graduating in 2012. He was a field artilleryman and specialized as a fire support officer, leading and managing various teams. He graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School and deployed to Afghanistan in 2015-16 before leaving the service to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Since joining the West Hartford Police Department, Forader has been assigned to the Patrol Division, has been a Field Training Officer and is in his fifth year with the Emergency Services Unit, currently as a Team Leader. He is also a member of the Honor Guard, Community Support Unit and the Greater Hartford Regional Auto Theft Task Force.

Terra noted that Forader “has been instrumental in numerous high-profile cases in West Hartford and surrounding agencies where dangerous criminals have been apprehended in homicides, shootings, home invasions, robberies, car thefts, drug dealing, burglaries, car thefts, and the seizure of numerous illegal firearms and illegal narcotics.”

Lt. Merrick Forader is pinned down by his wife as one of his children watches. West Hartford Police Department promotion ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

He also completed training in various disciplines.

Forader has received numerous awards throughout his career, including two departmental citations, a Meritorious Service Award, a Lifesaving Award, unit citations and the Hartford Police Department Recognition Award. He was also selected as the 2024 American Legion Police Officer of the Year.

ACO Kimberly Gulino. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

ACO Kimberly Gulino

Gulino, who was first hired in 2019 as an assistant animal control officer by the West Hartford Police Department, has been named superintendent of the Animal Control Division.

Gulino began her career in the animal care industry after several years of raising children, starting out at a pet grooming salon and then becoming a veterinary technician for a local office. “That interest turned into a passion and then a career, as Kim accepted a position with the city of Farmington in 2016 as an assistant to the city’s animal control officer,” Terra said.

Since joining the West Hartford Animal Control Department, she has become involved in the community and has built relationships not only with her colleagues, but also with the community and animal welfare organizations across the state.

In 2022, Gulino received the Excellence of Service Award from Cause Animal Rescue of Kenway, “an award that reflects Kim’s dedication to her career and is a true testament to the work she has done and will continue to do for the city of West Hartford,” Terra said.

Earlier that day of the promotion, Gulino had rescued two tree ducks that had ended up in the basement of a West Hartford business. She was still waiting for them to be picked up from a rehabilitation agency, and she brought them with her to the ceremony to make sure they were safe.

ACO Kimberly Gulino pinned by her husband. West Hartford Police Department promotion ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Sgt. Amanda Martin served as emcee. Pastor Eric Peoples gave the prayer.

From left: Pastor Eric Peoples, Asst. Chief Rob Riccobon, Town Manager Rick Ledwith, Lt. Ross Friedman, Det. Merrick Forader, ACO Kimberly Gulino, Asst. Chief Larry Terra and Chief Vernon Riddick. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo Credit: Ronni Newton

Sgt. Amanda Martin. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo: Ronni Newton

Pastor Eric Peoples. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo by Ronni Newton

Lt. Ross Friedman receives the oath of office from City Manager Rick Ledwith at the West Hartford Police Department Promotion Ceremony on July 9, 2024. Photo Credit: Ronni Newton

Det. Merrick Forader takes the oath of office from City Manager Rick Ledwith. West Hartford Police Department Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo Credit: Ronni Newton

ACO Kimberly Gulino receives the Oath of Office from City Manager Rick Ledwith. West Hartford Police Promotion Ceremony. July 9, 2024. Photo Credit: Ronni Newton

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