Vassar Police Department Officer Matthew Piazza, left, is sworn in as a new Vassar officer on Jan. 9 by Vassar Clerk/Treasurer Merri Lemcke. Piazza is the son of Craig and Myra Piazza, and his mother, Myra, is a retired Vassar officer who works part-time as a Vassar officer. Looking on in the background are Vassar City Council members, from left, Pat Mecham and Chuck Fabbro.

VASSAR – Vassar city officials have sworn in a new police officer and promoted another officer to sergeant.

VASSAR –  Vassar city officials have sworn in a new police officer and promoted another officer to sergeant.

Officer Brian Westphal was promoted to a sergeant at the Jan. 9 city council meeting in Vassar, population 2,727.

Vassar Police Chief Ben Guile, addressing several dozen audience members at the meeting, said demands of running the department have increased “exponentially” as technology has advanced and as the requirement for reporting information has increased in scope.

“We’ve felt it was time to not only legacy plan – because I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m getting older – and we need to take some steps in that direction so that when I’m not here, the department still has clear leadership,” Guile said.

Sgt. Westphal is the person to provide such leadership, Guile said. 

“He’s highly intelligent, he’s motivated, he’s dedicated and I don’t hesitate to put him in charge in my absence, and – sometimes – even when I’m here,” Guile said. 

“He brings a perspective that I don’t have, and that I think I need. I think that’s probably because I’m 25-ish years older than him, but it’s definitely a change, and it’s definitely time.”

Westphal’s wife, Hailey Westphal, pinned her husband’s sergeant badge on his uniform.

Guile also announced the addition of Matthew Piazza as a part-time police officer. Piazza is the son of Craig and Myra Piazza.

The new officer’s mother, Myra – who retired as a Vassar officer and still works part-time for the Vassar department – pinned the officer’s badge on her son. Myra Piazza said her son’s badge number is the same badge number worn by a longtime Vassar police officer, the late Jim Smith, whom Myra Piazza called “one of my best friends.”

Guile said there’s a shortage of people willing to work as police officers.

“It’s become highly unpopular, it’s become something that is oftentimes besmirched and looked down upon,” Guile said. “As that has happened, throughout society and throughout our communities, the numbers of young people that are willing to step into the breach and take on that responsibility, have dwindled.”

The chief noted he had “kind of an inside track” in hiring Matthew Piazza, though.

“Myra has worked for – and retired from – the city, and still works for the city as a part-time police officer,” Guile said. “So I knew I had a good one – one that understood what the sacrifice of public service was; one that understood what the long hours, and the late nights, and the missed holidays, was all about.”

Guile praised Vassar City Manager Andrew Niedzinski, stressing that “through his wizardry with grant-writing, got us the funding” to pay for Piazza’s studies at a police academy “where (Piazza) performed at a very high level.”

For several weeks, Officer Matthew Piazza has been receiving training in Vassar as a new officer, according to Guile.