SPOTSWOOD, NJ – Lots of youngsters grow up loving the site and sounds of police vehicles and sirens. For one Massachusetts man, the Spotswood Police Department went the extra mile to give him an experience of a lifetime.
Earlier in the summer, the Medford Police Patrolman’s Association in Massachusetts contacted the SPD to let them know one of their residents would be visiting family in the area at the beginning of August. Michael Sasso suffers from Williams Syndrome, which is a developmental disorder impacting many parts of the body including the brain and cardiovascular system, and has a special affinity for police officers, vehicles and sirens.
When Michael arrived in the borough on August 2, he was treated to quite a special outing courtesy of the Spotswood Police Department. The Medford, Massachusetts native’s excursion began with a tour of the department led by Patrolman Michael Genovese.
Genovese is a one of the department’s public information officers and manages the SPD’s social media. Michael received a Spotswood Police Department t-shirt and wrist bands from Genovese before being partnered up with Fleet Manager, Patrolman Richard Sasso.
Sasso has been an officer with the Spotswood Police Department for almost six years. He previously worked in the Seaside Heights Police Department. Originally from Wappingers Falls, New York, the veteran officer now resides in the borough. As the department’s Fleet Manager, Sasso and Michael coincidentally share a similar kinship for police vehicles as well as the same last name though they are not related.
“My duties of Fleet Manager consist of handling all aspects of a police vehicle,” Sasso explained. “This starts from choosing which vehicle we want and with the options we need to purchase it with. Once owned and in our possession I work with various companies getting it fully equipped with all of our emergency lighting, sirens, radios, computers, cameras, weapons, prisoner transport equipment and first aid equipment. Once they are complete I push them into service. Then it is my job to maintain and fix them using various vendors all the way until we decommission them and remove them from service.”
Knowing in advance that their Massachusetts visitor had a strong interest and knowledge regarding police vehicles and sirens, Sasso went the distance to prepare for his stay at headquarters in an attempt to make it truly noteworthy.
“Michael came on August 2 and that day was extremely busy with multiple arrests so I was unable to partake in the building tour given by Ptl. Genovese,” Sasso said. “I was then able to meet and speak with Michael. He was extremely knowledgeable of the products I had on our Spotswood Police vehicles and wanted to see them in person. I went out and had two of our newest vehicles washed and clean, waiting for him to see. I turned on all of the equipment and he was very excited to see it all in person. We discussed what everything was, the functions of it and the different features of the products.”
“When I gave Michael the set of red and blue emergency lights and explained how he can hook them up at home he was amazed and extremely happy,” Sasso continued. “I also gave him a vintage antiquated radio I had in storage as well. When I asked if he had anything like the stuff I gave him, he stated he did not and was extremely grateful for it.”
“We appreciate your support for the police and your interest specifically in our Spotswood Police vehicles,” the SPD posted on their social media pages after Michael’s visit with the department. “It was an honor to meet you and we want you to know that you are not in the fight alone. We hope you enjoyed your visit and look forward to seeing you again on your next trip to New Jersey. Keep pushing forward!”
“In our profession we have a lot of responsibility and with that comes a lot of scrutiny from the public, media and local government officials especially if they are not involved and educated on the matters,” Sasso said when asked how his time with Michael impacted him. “We do our best to balance the responsibilities and perform our duties to the best of our ability with everyone we come in contact with. That doesn’t just include enforcing the laws and preventing crime. It also includes community policing, hosting events and showing people what we are about and what we do.”
“It always brings a smile to my face when I can bring a smile to someone else’s,” Sasso continued. “Especially someone who is interested in the behind the scenes responsibilities that most don’t care to ask about.”