By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Rick DiPersio says his late mother and father supported him throughout his rise through the ranks of the Hudson Police Department.
Now the town’s new chief of police, DiPersio says they’re never far from his mind.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve strived to achieve. And they knew that. So this is for them as much as it is for me.”
Town officials promoted DiPersio in February, elevating him from the rank of captain to take over for retiring chief Michael Burks.
He secured the job after 23 years of service that seemed to culminate in late 2019 with widely celebrated performance under the pressure of a deadly shooting in town. As the tragic events unfolded, both Burks and town manager Tom Moses said DiPersio led the department’s initial response and public messaging, leading to an arrest just over 24 hours after the shooting itself.
“This is not an everyday occurrence in Hudson, but you could tell that Rick was trained, prepared and confident to deal with this situation,” Moses told the Community Advocate shortly after DiPersio’s promotion. “Hudson is in good hands.”
This professional success, however, comes within a matter of months of personal heartbreak for DiPersio.
His father, Tom, passed away in 2015. His mother, Donna, then passed just last year.
“They were always very supportive of me and of law enforcement in general,” DiPersio said of his relationship with his parents. “They always pushed me to never give up on my goals.”
Particularly when he was serving as a patrolman earlier in his career, DiPersio said, his parents contributed where they could. They helped DiPersio’s wife take care of their then young children. They excused him when shifts with the police ate up his holidays and weekends. They cheered him on when the job was stressful or draining.
“When you’re working patrol, you spend a lot of time away from home,” DiPersio said. “They understood what the job entailed and they supported me through that.”
Roughly a month into holding the chief’s position he spent years aspiring towards, it’s hardly been easy sailing for DiPersio.
In early March, less than two weeks after his promotion, DiPersio and the department responded to a mass stabbing at a local bar. That incident rattled a community still shaken from the aforementioned shooting last year, left four people injured, and sparked an ongoing manhunt for a suspected assailant.
Then, two days after that incident, COVID-19 cases swept through Massachusetts, signaling the onset of the now sprawling pandemic that has shuttered much of public life in the area including portions of the Hudson police station.
Through it all, though, DiPersio has called for calm in a variety of public statements, leading what he describes as a quality department all with constant respect and thought for the parents that guided him to this point.
“I know they’re looking down and smiling,” he said.