By Margie Plunkett
The Ocean Ridge Police Department is two officers stronger, and back to full staff, but more changes are in store come spring with the planned retirement of Chief Edward Hillery.
Hillery is expected to retire as of April 1, Town Manager Ken Schenck said, adding that the chief hasn’t yet officially submitted his intent. Schenck plans to recommend Lt. Chris Yannuzzi as Hillery’s successor, whose appointment is subject to approval by town commissioners.
“He’s proven himself well-qualified, made good changes in the Police Department,” Schenck said. “Why go to the expense and time of advertising when we have someone in house?”
Hillery, nearly 70, has been with a police department since age 22 in New Jersey. “I’ll miss the people. I’ve kept a younger mental attitude by working,” he said. After retirement, he said, he plans to keep working on his boat, play golf and take up artwork.
The two new officers bring experience and are a good fit will with the force in Ocean Ridge, Hillery said. And bringing the department up to staff means “we can be more flexible, using less overtime,” the chief said.
Officers Vincent Mollica and John Giardino were approved conditionally by town commissioners in October. Both, who bring experience from the Northeast, have satisfied the remaining required conditions, which included results of medical and psychological exams.
Mollica, a West Palm Beach resident, retired from the New York Police Department as a narcotics detective after 16 years with the department. He has a bachelor’s in criminal justice and received Florida law enforcement equivalency training through Broward Community College.
Giardino of Palm Beach Gardens retired after 20 years as a Massachusetts state trooper. He has a master’s degree in education, a bachelor’s in sociology and an associate’s in criminal justice. His Florida law enforcement training comes from Palm Beach Community College.
The two were chosen from 16 submitted applications. The officers fill one spot left vacant after a recent termination and one that had been frozen. The new hires, who started Oct. 13, bring the Police Department staff up to 15 people, according to Schenck. Mollica and Giardino planned to attend the Nov. 2 commission meeting.