The Hill. June, 2004. Shayna Kendall’s brother Jason Craggett was murdered as he sat on his porch on Vernon Street.
Investigating detectives were available night and day and super-professional. They treated the case as if they had lost their own family member.
Result: Kendall decided she wanted to join their ranks. On Friday she did, becoming Detective Shayna Kendall. “‘Shayna’ means beautiful in Yiddish,” noted admiring mom Tina Craggett.
Kendall was one of 16 officers—13 men and three women—who received the gold detective’s shield in a poignant promotional ceremony that drew hundreds of family members and admirers to the auditorium of Wilbur Cross High School Friday evening. A 17th officer will be promoted upon his return from sick leave.
“We’ve been short of detectives for a very long time,” said, Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso. The newly minted detectives bring the total in the department up to 58, with three vacancies left, he added.
All the detectives will be going to “detective college,” for specialized training that begins Monday in a partnership between the department and the University of New Haven, where the classes are held.
These “command colleges” for each group of newly promoted officers have been introduced by Chief Esserman for each of the ranks.
This is the second class for detectives, with the length of study this time extended to seven days. The new detectives will hit the streets on March 12, said Generoso.
Many of the officers promoted, like Kendall, said that they had wanted to be cops from when they were young. Detective John Kaczor’s grandfather Mario Piscitelli leveled his hand out waist high and said, “He wanted to be a cop from when he was this big. He drew pictures,” he said just before the flag-bearing honor guard marched down the center aisle and the ceremonies began.
Kaczor scored the highest on the promotional exam, which officers took in November. “By half a point,” he said modestly. Many of the officers promoted, like Kaczor, have already been doing detective work when they are assigned, as with him, to units such as the ATF Task Force.
“I like the problem-solving, the long-term investigations. It’s been my goal since joining,” he said.
That was the case too for Detective Leonardo Soto (pictured). After having been a paramedic in Bridgeport for 12 years, he joined the force in 2008 and has patrolled in Fair Haven and is a member of the department’s SWAT team.
“The idea of the investigating side ... You take it from start to end and follow the whole thing,” he said. As a sergeant you need the investigative time and the street time. This will prepare me for the sergeant’s test,” he added.
Mayor: Rid the Streets of Guns
In her first oath-administering ceremony Mayor Harp had a several messages for the new detectives. First she said, “If you allow this from a civilian, I salute you.”
She then pronounced the pride and hug-filled proceedings “Exhibit A that our city is moving in the right direction, that city employees are moving and growing in their public service.”
She characterized in particular the work of the detective, as he or she gathers information and develops a network of contacts, to be “an essential aspect of community policing.”
Then Mayor Harp made what she termed a “personal request of each of you new detectives: Redouble your efforts to rid our city of illegal guns. There can be no understating how important this is.”
Detective Kendall’s mother Tina Craggett expressed quiet pride in her daughter’s achievements. “She’s also working on her master’s in psychology” at Albertus Magnus College.
She said her own example, working hard, often at two jobs, in the wake of her son’s death as providing a strong foundation for her daughter.
She manages her concerns about her daughter’s safety with this thought: “I know she could make someone else’s child safe.”
Click here for an article on the promotional test and the list of officers promoted. They are (in order of scoring): John Kaczor; David Acosta; Joshua Kyle; Curtis Miller; Kealyn Nivakoff; Pedro Colon; Shayna Kendall; Brian DiAnge; Brian McDermott; Joseph Landisio; Juan Monzon; Leonardo Soto; Walter Flegler ( injured, was not at the ceremony, but is to be promoted on his return); Michael Defonzo; Ann Salamon; Juan Ingles; and Ronald Perry.