Cop’s career replete with stories

Posted 9/7/22

Mark Ullucci is good at telling stories. He brings an element of engagement to his narrative, leaving the listener anxious to learn what’s going to happen next.

It’s no wonder police …

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Cop’s career replete with stories


Mark Ullucci is good at telling stories. He brings an element of engagement to his narrative, leaving the listener anxious to learn what’s going to happen next.

It’s no wonder police chiefs have chosen him to be the master of ceremonies at promotional ceremonies and department events. He does more than read the names of officers being promoted. He recounts their background with the department, often throwing the spotlight on a remarkable achievement. Each officer gets his or her story.

So when Ullucci , who is second in command at the department, announced he would retire from the force, Mayor Frank Picozzi planned to recognize his 22 years of service with a citation in his office. Ullucci didn’t come alone. Accompanying him was the department’s command. There a photo-op and the shaking of hands.

And then Ullucci was asked if he remembered his first day on the force. He was assigned to the third or graveyard shift when the traffic consists of delivery vehicles, early morning commuters and those who closed the bars. Ullucci was a rookie at the bottom of the pecking order. It was about 3 in the morning when he spotted a car outside the service station at the intersection of West Shore Road and Tidewater Drive. The station was closed. As Ullucci slowed, a group of kids saw him, jumped in the car and took off. Ullucci pursued and on stopping the vehicle learned that there was an arrest warrant for one of the gang. He had made an apprehension on the first day on the job.

Ullucci was prepared to regale the mayor and the command staff with more stories, but he saved them for the Warwick Rotary Club where he was the featured speaker two days later.

Ullucci said he always had an interest in law enforcement and while working in security at the Rhode Island Mall as a college student got to know Thomas Nye. Nye was a member of the Warwick department and offered insights to the job. Ullucci decided he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement after earning an associates degree at CCRI and a bachelors at RIC in four years, he applied to the Woonsocket and Warwick departments. Woonsocket offered him a position and he had started taking the tests for Rhode Island Police Academy when Warwick called with an offer. He picked Warwick.

Ullucci’s wife, Sylvia, joined him at the Rotary Club. As he told one of several stories, she disputed his characterization that she and her friends joining him soon after they had met because she thought he would pick up the tab at Bickfords. Ullucci believes Sylvia knew he was a cop, but if she didn’t she soon learned he was. Although not in uniform and off duty, the Bickford manager recognized Ullucci and called on him when a dispute erupted between two customers. Ullucci suggested calling police, but before they arrived one customer picked up a glass. He hurled it, missing his target and hitting another customer in the head, who slumped to the floor bleeding profusely.

Ullucci stepped in identifying himself as an off-duty officer. He tended to the bleeding customer while delaying the assailant until police arrived. When everything settled down, the manager insisted on picking up Ullucci’s tab but he didn’t think that was right and insisted on paying.

As a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves, Ullucci was called to serve in Iraq in 2007 where he served on a PC170, a 170-foot boat with a crew of 24 boarding tugs, tankers, dhows and just about every other vessel as well as oil platforms. He was deployed for about a year, first being stent to training in Florida. When that “stand up” was completed the unit had about three days before departure and was told to stay within 50 miles of the base. Ullucci saw an opportunity to see his wife and family and got a ticket to Rhode Island. His absence went undetected.

“Sometimes the seas weren’t cooperative,” Ullucci says downplaying some of the tense moments he surely encountered. His most memorable event was meeting his daughter Audrina for a first time in the form of a sonogram that Sylvia sent him. He got home in time to see her birth at Kent Hospital.

Ullucci spent ten years a member of the SWAT team, with the last three of them as the team leader.

“I hate to bring up a comedy of errors,” says Ullucci but he continues with the story anyway. After responding to call from Jefferson Boulevard, police learned a man had been assaulted by three men believed to be armed. The men who posted the incident on the internet were traced to Motel 6 and the SWAT team assembled outside the door to the room where the men were thought to be. They used a “worm,” a camera on a flexible line, which was fed under the door. The room appeared to be empty so the team entered to find the trio lying on beds with a handgun on the side table. They eyed one another. The men were directed not to move and Ullucci secured the gun.

Another incident at Motel 6 came close to ending badly in the only time Ullucci drew his weapon. A couple of young men believed to be armed had locked themselves in a second story room of the hotel and were demanding “bags of money” and food in telephone conversations with police. A handgun was thrown from the window, but police didn’t know if they had additional weapons.

Brad Connor, who is now chief of the department, burst through the door and Ullucci, pointing his gun, came face-to-face with a man pointing a device at him. Ullucci didn’t fire and the device turned out to be a television remote.

Another tense situation occurred in the parking lot of Barry’s Lounge on Warwick Avenue, now the site of a Washington Trust branch. There was a large gathering. People were worked up and police were attempting to calm things down when a shot was fired. The bullet ricocheted and hit one of the Barry patrons in the buttocks. No one knew if the police had fired or if the shot was intended for police. Eventually, it was sorted out.

The most troubling of calls for Ullucci was in response to a late night accident on Church Avenue.

“The car looked like it had been hit by a missile,” said Ullucci. It had hit a tree. Ullucci went to work on trying to save the teenage boy who was behind the wheel. He could see the boy’s life slipping away as he frantically worked to stop bleeding and keep him conscious. He felt helpless, but didn’t stop hoping that as the body was loaded into the rescue that somehow they could revive him. It’s an experience that will always be with him.

The Ulluccis raised their two daughters in Warwick. Being a member of the force and living in the community is an experience Ullucci recommends to department members. They moved to Blackstone, Mass., and when the opening of town manager came up, Ullucci was interest and applied. He had second thoughts and decided to stay with the department. Some months later, the firm that had conducted the search for Blackstone called and asked if he would consider interviewing for Town Manager of Somerset. He gave it a shot and two hours later was told selectmen had unanimously voted for him.

As he puts it, “I got a job I never applied for.” Ullucci starts Monday.

Thinking of the Warwick department, Ullucci names Christian "Chris" Mathiesen, who served 50 years with the department, retired Col. Stephen McCartney and Connor as shaping his career. Then he pauses, “it’s the people who make the place…it’s the people who define those (police) symbols.”

As for a legacy, Ullucci names all the years he and Jamie Calise taught report writing at the state Police Academy. Between the two of them he estimates they trained 1,000 officers. Ullucci has had a hand in telling a lot of stories.


Ullucci, retirement


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