HUDSON — Officers Wendy LaFlamme, Samantha Costa, Heather Manning and Kayleigh Myerson are gathered at the Hudson Police Department (HPD) building on a Monday morning to make a recruitment video for the HPD.
The officers are joined by community resource dog Murf, a golden retriever, who immediately comes over to see what is going on.
Manning said they were making a recruitment video because “it’s a hard job to get into.”
The video will show the different aspects like the duties of the traffic unit and the SWAT team, as well as the positive impact officers can make. The HPD has a street crimes unit to handle a situation that may be too much for one officer, a drone unit and a thriving Community Action Team, which involves events that engage the community.
“The recruitment video will be able to show people it’s not just what everyone thinks we do,” Manning said.
“It is my hope that through our recruiting efforts we will attract a diverse group of candidates,” Police Chief Richard DiPersio said. “We are a young department. We encourage professional growth through training and specialty roles.”
According to DiPersio, the department’s status under civil service was revoked by a vote at the 2021 Annual Town Meeting. It was a project he proposed to the unions, and they agreed on terms.
Since the hiring process revolves around a statewide exam, it restricts who can be on a hiring list and impedes the town’s ability to hire a diversified police force, he said.
Without the status, DiPersio said, “Hudson can pre-screen and identify quality candidates in a timely manner with diverse backgrounds, college or military experience, prior experience in police service and with language and other skills that will serve the Hudson community well.”
“It is important for the police department to reflect the community we serve,” he said.
According to DiPersio, since 1999, the department has had one full-time female officer – LaFlamme. Since being removed from civil service in 2021, it has added three more female officers, ones that he said they are “very lucky to have.”
“We now have four female police officers,” DiPersio said. “One was a dispatcher for us that we put through the academy, and the other two additions have transferred in from other departments.”
He added, “These women bring so much experience to the department, and they have so much to offer. It’s been incredible.”
Meet the HPD officers
DiPersio said LaFlamme is “our longest tenured officer.” She has over 20 years of experience and has done a lot with the senior citizen community and the CAT.
“She has made so many important connections with community members of all ages over the years. She’s also one of two department child car seat technicians,” DiPersio said.
LaFlamme, who has served the HPD beginning in 1998, said she became a police officer for the simple reason of helping people.
Making somebody smile is the most rewarding part of her job, she said.
“This is the job I always wanted, and I did everything else trying to avoid doing it because I felt like I couldn’t do it, but I can do it,” LaFlamme said.
Before Costa, Myerson and Manning joined the department, she said, “It was just me for 25 years, and then these guys came.”
Manning said, “She’s so happy we’re all here.”
Costa believed they “were doing great right now” in diversifying the department.
Costa is the newest officer to the group. She came to Hudson from the Marlborough Police Department with seven years of experience. She was an emergency dispatcher for the HPD for 15 years and will be the new school resource officer for the Hudson High School.
DiPersio said it is a first for the HPD to have a female resource officer, and the department is “excited to welcome her back to the HPD.”
Costa said being in the department “kind of ran in the family” – her father is a retired sergeant, and her brother is a Marlborough school resource officer.
She wanted to be a positive influence for people as an officer. The most rewarding aspect of the job for her was to get someone out of a bad situation and help that person.
Manning comes to the HPD in a lateral transfer from the Marlborough Police Department, which she joined in 2008, with 16-plus years of experience. She has served as a detective, field training officer, background investigator, sexual assault investigator and women’s self-defense instructor.
DiPersio called her “a tremendous asset to the department” with her extensive background.
Manning said she joined the police department because she wanted to assist people and “make their lives better.”
Making a difference is important to Manning. She noted that she has served long enough to hear that she saved someone’s life from an overdose. It was cool to see that someone she saved has gotten clean and has a family, she said.
“I’ve had someone come back years later, talking about something that happened,” Manning said. “You do make a difference.”
Myerson worked as an emergency dispatcher for the HPD prior to her hiring. She has been a dispatcher for a year and a half and a patrol officer for eight months. Myerson has also worked with CAT and participated in specialty trainings.
“She’s our ‘rookie’ female officer, but she’s already proven herself to be a huge asset to the department, and I have no doubt she’ll go on to do great things for the town,” DiPersio said.
Myerson said “hanging out with the kids” in the community is the most rewarding part of her job. And, like LaFlamme, she got into the job to support the community.
She added, “We all want to help people.”
They agreed that every day is a surprise. Costa said what they have to respond to depends on what is going on in the world.
“You can literally have one day where everything is so busy, and you’re going call to call to call to the next day driving around for six hours, and nothing comes up,” Costa said.
Of the typical day on the job, LaFlamme said, “You never know. That’s the best part of the job.”