WEST HARTFORD — Robert Riccobon was sworn in as the next assistant police chief this week.
Riccobon, a West Hartford resident for 25 years, was previously the aide to the chief for Police Chief Vernon Riddick. Riccobon replaces Dan Coppinger who retired this year.
Riccobon joined the department in April 2002 as a patrol officer and in 2011 was named police officer of the year. A 10-year member of the SWAT team, Riccobon has also held department positions in the community relations division and training division while also being a member of the citizen complaint review board.
“There is nothing traditional about Rob,” Riddick said before Riccobon was sworn in. “From the first day I became chief ... in 2018, up through now he made the unusual usual. He made the impossible possible.”
Riccobon, who was with his wife and two children, received a standing ovation and spoke about what the position means to him.
“I look around here and this to me is everything I wanted,” Riccobon said. “What I’m here to do is support the men, the women, the leadership and the people who live in the town of West Hartford. That is what my job is. We have a saying in our household to stay humble and stay hungry ... and not resting in our laurels and not resting in what we’ve accomplished before.”
Riddick pointed to Riccobon’s desire to innovate as one of the reasons why he is being promoted to this new position. That includes establishing the town’s College Police Academy.
“What really has impressed me with Rob is his ability to push past boundaries,” Riddick said. “It’s his ability to not just take what you see in front of you and think that’s the end. He didn’t just assist in programs. He started programs.”
Riddick said Riccobon applied for a vacant assistant police chief position two years ago and admitted that he quickly turned him down.
“Rob put in for it and I quickly rejected him,” Riddick said. “He explained why he was the right fit for the job. I continued to watch him over the next years to see if his work ethic would dive or slow or if his commitment would waver or if he would develop an attitude. No. If anything else ... it made him work even harder.”
A graduate of Central Connecticut State University, Riccobon is also well-known in West Hartford for his longtime involvement in athletics. He recently completed his 30th year as a swim coach and is the founder and coach of the West Hartford WHAT Swimming team.
“To his swim team, the things that he preaches to you, he lives it,” Riddick said. “Trust me, I know.”
Riddick recalled a conversation he had with Riccobon that demonstrated his dedication to West Hartford.
“He said, ‘I’m just here to make you successful. If you’re successful, the police department is successful. If the police department is successful, the town of West Hartford is successful. If the town is successful, the public at large will be successful,’” Riddick said. “That’s Rob Riccobon. It wasn’t about him. It’s always about what we can do better.”
Riddick said Riccobon’s ascent from the patrol level to assistant police chief is a testament to his hard work.
“What I like most about Rob and what I appreciate most about Rob ... I don’t have to tell him to do something,” Riddick said. “He just gets it done. To have somebody do that from the patrol level says a lot about Rob.”