Ray Hassett has a message for President Obama: A “new breed of cop” is on the way, a cop who can size up people and calm an escalating situation.
New Haveners watch Hassett do that for decades as a New Haven cop, first a beat cop, then a sergeant and lieutenant overseeing the Dwight/Kensington neighborhood and running the SWAT team.
Viewers all over the word knew Hassett in a different role: Echo Base Senior Logistics Officer Tigran Jamiro in The Empire Strikes Back, who famously warned Han Solo it was a suicide mission to jump on a tauntaun and go try to save Commander Skywalker on the ice planet Hoth.
Now cops around the world, and back home in New Haven, are getting to know Hassett as a trainer in “de-escalation,” an approach advocates from the president on down are calling for in the wake of a national debate over shootings of citizens by police.
Hassett talked about all those roles during an appearance on Shafiq Abdussabur’s “Urban Talk Radio” program on WNHH. He revealed that his career began as a fire-eater and street performer who eventually added acting roles in movies like Body Double or Superman: The Movie in addition to pursuing a 25-year police career in New Haven. “I never wanted to be famous,” Hassett told Abdussabur, but rather to practice his craft well and understand people—whether wearing a blue uniform or an actor’s costume.
Click on the sound file at the top of the story to listen to the program.