There were two memorable ceremonies inside the Johnston Senior Center last Friday for a highly-decorated man whom Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini called “a damn good cop who will make an excellent parks and recreation director.”
For starters, Tamburini announced the official retirement of Capt. Christopher Correia, who has worn many hats – and helmets – since his days as outstanding football player at Warwick Veterans Memorial High School and the past two decades-plus with the Johnston Police Department.
“For over 20 years, Capt. Chris Correia has served our department, the residents, families and business of Johnston with honor and distinction,” Tamburini said. “He delivered every day; he never let me down. Under his supervision, the Johnston Police Department has continued to grow and modernize to effectively confront the ever-changing challenges facing law enforcement across the nation.”
The veteran police chief, who will soon retire after 55 years as the dean of the state’s law enforcement community, added: “Chris held himself to the highest standards of excellence – a combination of talent, knowledge and dedication. His long and distinguished career with the JPD is a testament to his passion and unwavering commitment to passion and unwavering commitment to Johnston.”
Tamburini then related that when Correia told him of his retirement, “I knew it was a great career move for him but it would be an incredible loss to the department. However, I couldn’t be more supportive and grateful for his years of decorated service.”
Next up for Correia is filling some big shoes.
“Some time ago the mayor asked me if I knew of someone who could assist with the day-to-day operations at the recreation department after the passing of Dan Mazzulla,” Tamburini said. “We agreed that Chris, whose attention to detail and managerial capabilities, immediately came to mind. And Chris, being the team player that he is, took on the challenge.”
To which Mayor Joseph Polisena added, while making it official: “We welcome Chris Correia with open arms as the town of Johnston’s new parks and recreation director.”
Polisena emphasized, “Chris has juggled both positions with the highest degree of professionalism and dedication. Like everything Chris does, he undertook the extra duties with steadfast commitment.”
Tamburini then added, “The mayor has always had a distinct knack for sizing up talent; he recognized what I’ve known for years. This will be quite a career change for Chris, as he gives up his gun and handcuffs for ballfields and basketball courts. We will miss him, but our loss will be the recreation’s gain. Please join me for the first time and congratulate the new parks and recreation director for the town of Johnston.”
Correia has held many positions and held numerous ranks while working his way up the ladder to captain as well as working all three shifts with the JPD.
At the start of 2019, he moved to his current position and became commander of the Traffic and Special Services Bureau. During his tenure, for the first time in over a decade, a Citizens Police Academy was developed and put on in the spring of that year.
Additional community and police intervention-based events went on successfully, such as Walk with Cops and the National Night Out followed, and more specifically in terms of traffic, the bureau conducted numerous studies that led to added or improved signage in various areas of the town to improve traffic and pedestrian safety.
Under Correia’s leadership, traffic enforcement initiatives were regularly put forth throughout the town to mitigate moving violations. The bureau maintained its role in responding to accidents and assisting patrols, however traffic personnel and Correia also conducted two lengthy fatal motor vehicle accidents investigations in 2019.
Correia is also the recipient of numerous awards during his tenure, including the Chief’s Medal, Town Council Award and several Department Ribbon Awards. In the fall of 2019, he met the requirements of the Command Training Series: Development Course at Roger Williams University after having been awarded the John D. Doyle Scholarship.
Deputy Police Chief Joseph Razza, who emceed the retirement ceremony, offered: “It has truly been a privilege and my honor to have worked with you over the years. You’ve been someone that I could always trust and rely upon for sound advice. You’ve always been a very fair and effective supervisor, but more than that, you’ve always been impartial; qualities that make you the unique individual you rare.
Correia concluded by thanking JPD personnel, Polisena and his family for attending the ceremony.
“It’s hard to believe that 20½ years have gone by and that I am retiring,” he said. “Part of me feels like it was just the other day that I was walking through the old back door of the station, nervously starting my career on the 4-12 shift. It has been an honor and a privilege to wear the badge and uniform, serve the town of Johnston and its people. Mayor Polisena and Chief Tamburini, thank you for the opportunity.”
He noted how “it is a job not done alone” and heaped praise upon his colleagues, “both sworn and civilians for all the support, friendship and some laughter along the way to get through. It has been a distinct pleasure to work with you and you will be missed. We are currently in some challenging times in society, and to all of you I say, wear the badge with pride. Stand tall in this profession. Back each other up, be consistent, be fair, be vigilant and most of all – be safe!"