“It’s sort of like leaving your family to go somewhere else,” Stefanucci replied when asked what sort of thoughts were going through his head during his last days on the job. “Maybe it’s like you feel when you’re going to leave your family to get married — or when you’re just leaving and you know you’re going to start something new. That’s the feeling I have for it.”
The something new is probably going to involve construction. “Building. Remodeling. That’s what I’ve done,” Stefanucci explained, noting that during his years on police force, he’s built six houses and done quite a bit of remodeling. All the houses except the last — his retirement home at Conneaut Lake — were built before he became chief in November 2005, he added.
He’s also looking forward to continuing to construct the distinctive illuminated Christmas trees — a total of 18 at last count — that he and neighbor Dane Lang have constructed along the shores of Conneaut Lake.
Before he goes, Stefanucci has some advice for young people who may be considering a career in law enforcement.
“If you’re just looking for a job, you don’t want to get into law enforcement,” he said with a smile. “The money isn’t there, but if it’s what you’ve always wanted to do, you should get into it.”
As for preparing for a career in law enforcement, the soon-to-be former chief had some rather unexpected advice.
“If you’re taking English class and you’re thinking, ‘This is ridiculous,’ think again,” Stefanucci said. “It’s learning how to write reports. Spelling. There’s not many cops who know how to spell because they think they don’t really need it so they don’t pay a lot of attention. Focus on that. Pronunciations — anything like that is really going to help them. Nowadays, things have really changed. You may be on the street 10 minutes, but you’re in the office for an hour, doing your reports, going to court, presenting your case. You want to win your case, so that’s important.”
Being a policeman started first with his grandfather and then his mother — and he’s passing the family tradition down through his son, who is already a detective sergeant with the department. “My grandfather made retirement,” Stefanucci said, smiling at the recollection. “I made it. I’m sure Mike’s going to make it. It goes back full circle — if this is what you want to do, it’s a great job.”
The retiring chief is also confident that he’s passing another tradition down through Young.
“I know my successor cares about Meadville — and that’s important,” he said. “First you’ve got to care about the men in the department and their safety. That’s No. 1. That’s the chief’s tool for taking care of Meadville so Meadville can be safe.
“My goal has always been to take care of Meadville,” Stefanucci said. “The men on the police department first, and then Meadville. I hope I’ve done that.”
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.