After 25 Years, Saybrook Detective Retires
David Perrotti has retired from the Old Saybrook Police Department with the rank of detective first class, and he’s continuing to serve the community as school resource officer at the Kathleen E. Goodwin Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of David Perrotti )
After 25 years of service, Detective First Class David Perrotti officially retired from the Old Saybrook Police Department (OSPD) on the last day of 2020. But he’ll still be a familiar face around town—he continues to serve as school resource officer (SRO) at Kathleen E. Goodwin Elementary School, a job he took on at the beginning of the school year.
Although retirement has been an adjustment, he’s enjoying his time with the youngest learners in the town’s public school system.
“Coming to school every day and being with the pre-K to the 4th graders, it’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
His job includes reading to the children, playing with them during recess, and participating in other educational programs.
“Being with the kids every day is fantastic,” said Perrotti, who lives in Westbrook and has two children himself, Juliana and Christopher, both now adults. “It’s a great school community.
“I’ve taught some [kids] how to throw a football and even jump rope,” he said. “They get to see a police officer in a different light and know I am always here for them to talk to and help them in any way. It’s about building trust and relationships.”
Perrotti, who graduated from The Morgan School in 1983, says he looked up to two Clinton police officers, Jack Welch and Jim Fitzgerald. He began work with OSPD in October of 1995 as a patrol officer and SRO. In 2010, he became a detective; he was promoted to detective first class in 2018. In 2011, Perrotti was named Officer of the Year by the Old Saybrook/Westbrook Exchange Club. He served as president of the Old Saybrook police union for eight years.
Looking back on his career, Perrotti said a few cases particularly stand out. A tragic one involved a shaken baby.
“It was an 18-month-old, who ended up passing away” as a result of being shaken by an adult, he recalled. “That investigation was difficult, but to be able to make an arrest in that case of the person who did it to him and give the victim a voice, that was very important to me.
“That was one of the hardest cases that I had to investigate because it involved a child,” he said. “To have the person arrested and serve time” amounts to “justice for the victim. That’s what we always strive for: to make sure that the victim is taken care of and has a voice.”
Another case could perhaps serve as fodder for a detective series: Perrotti convinced a bank robber, who was escaping to Florida by train, to return to Saybrook and face the consequences of his crimes. The man had robbed banks across the eastern part of the state and the OSPD was able to identify him and track him down.
On his way back to Saybrook, the man “called every stop of the way to let me know that the train was going to be late,” Perrotti said.
How did he convince the man to turn himself in?
“You build a rapport with someone over the phone,” he explained. It was August, and “the next holiday was going to be Thanksgiving, and he had two children, himself...I was being honest with him.”
Perrotti told him, “When you come home for Thanksgiving dinner to see your kids, you don’t want us showing up there. Come and face the charges...instead of waiting down the road to prolong it.”
Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael A. Spera credited Perrotti with “enhancing and modernizing the Criminal Investigations Division through his dedication, leadership, foresight, and technical competency. His tireless pursuit of advocating for victims of crime is admirable.”
First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., called Perrotti “an outstanding member of the Old Saybrook police force.
“Obviously, the culture and climate of the department, as well as that of the town, have played a role in his decision to stay with the OSPD,” Fortuna said by email. “He is one of many officers that have retired or left the department that has chosen to continue working for the people of Old Saybrook in some capacity.”
“For 25 years, I enjoyed every minute of this job, the police department, and the Old Saybrook community,” Perrotti said. “It’s the best area to work in. We’re very fortunate here.”
He credits the “love and support of my wife, Shannon,” with getting through some stressful times, noting how difficult it is sometimes to be the spouse of a police officer or other first responder.
The SRO position keeps him busy: It’s 37 ½ hours per week. But he’ll have summers off and is hoping to travel with Shannon once the COVID-19 crisis has abated and it’s safe to do so.