The Town of Ulster officially named Kyle Berardi its chief of police on Wednesday, Aug. 23, one year after he was sworn in as a lieutenant and just under a year since he took over the mantle of officer in charge.
Berardi is the first police chief since Anthony Cruise retired in November 2015 after revealing he’d been diagnosed with bile duct cancer. Cruise passed away on Dec. 8, 2016. Lt. J.P. Gramoglia was named officer in charge when Cruise retired, but after passing the Civil Service exam necessary to become the chief, Berardi was next in line. According to Civil Service rules, Berardi had to spend a year as lieutenant to earn the experience requirement, and Quigley on Tuesday said that the notification had arrived earlier in the week.
“The paperwork just came from Civil Service this week that indicated he had completed his one year service requirement as a lieutenant, which qualified him for the promotion,” Quigley said.
Though there were three qualified candidates from outside the town, the town board opted to promote rather than hiring a new chief externally.
Berardi came to the town’s police department 15 years ago after short stints with departments in Shandaken and Rosendale. Once he arrived in Ulster, Berardi said he felt he belonged here.
“I grew up in Kingston my whole life, so I remained in my community,” he said this week. “It was a large enough department for advancement, but not too large where you kind of get lost as a number. You’re able to make a difference and associate directly with people you know every day. That was key.”
Berardi said he hoped to continue striking a proper balance between the needs of the roughly 12,000 residents of the town and those who visit the county’s retail corridor on a daily basis.
“There’s nothing drastic I want to change,” he said. “I’ve been doing the job as officer in charge for a year now. I’m happy with the way the police department is progressing. I’m proud of the guys and girls that work for me and I just want for them to continue to work hard and I’ll support them in any way I can.”
But Berardi also acknowledged that the best course for a successful police department is one that knows when change is appropriate.
“I’m a forward-thinker,” he said. “Obviously there have been diversity and changes in law enforcement over the years, and I’m hoping my youth will help bring Ulster into the future and gain the respect of the community that we serve.”
Berardi said he hoped that the police department would be able to get back into its headquarters on the lower level of town hall after a mold issue sent them into trailers five years ago. The move was considered temporary, with a 90-day lease of a pair of trailers for $8,300, which at the time was thought to be enough time to conquer the issue. Last week Quigley said the mold had been remediated, and councilmen approved a contract with Scott Dutton Associates, which will pay a maximum of $3,800 for architectural plans likely to be unveiled sometime in the next couple of weeks.
In the spring of 2016, a trailer was replaced after a roof leak damaged a computer printer, with the cost of the issue coming in at $4,360. At the time, the owner of the trailer, Mod Space, agreed to lower the monthly rental cost of a single trailer from $940 to $860.
“Obviously with the support of the town board I want to move us back into a permanent police headquarters,” said Berardi. “I think it goes a long way to gain the respect of the public and increasing the morale of the men and women that work for me.”
Inspired by a legacy
Berardi said he hoped to serve in the tradition set forth by his predecessor.
“Relative to Chief Cruise, you hate coming into a position after such a tragedy,” he said. “He always instilled in us how to work hard, keep the community in mind and don’t think we’re any better than anyone else just because we’re officers. And hopefully leave the Ulster police in a better place than I took it over. Keep professionalism, respect from the community, and make sure we are able to protect the Town of Ulster to the best of our ability.”
Asked what made Berardi a good fit as the new chief, Quigley said, “He’s recognized by the members of the police department as being a leader.”