Grosse Pointe News | January 4th, 2018 | Grosse Pointe News - Jan. 4, 2018
Farms DPS says ‘good bye’ to three officers
By Melissa Walsh
GROSSE POINTE FARMS — The Hill’s Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosted a private soiree Monday, Jan. 8, to celebrate three revered officers retiring from the Farms Department of Public Safety.
Dirty Dog’s dining room brimmed with colleagues and family members honoring Sgt. John Bruno, with the Farms’ force 25 years, Officer Katie Gacobelli, 32 years, and Officer Stephen Puckett, also 32 years. Farms Public Safety Director Dan Jensen and Farms City Manager Shane Reeside bestowed gratitude and gifts to them for their service followed with applause from all present. Even K-9 Duke barked praise, lauding the honorees in dog-speak.
“I love all these guys,” said Gacobelli.
Succeeding her grandfather’s legacy, who served as a police officer in Detroit and whose badge she keeps, Gacobelli said she enjoyed her law enforcement career, sharing a professional experience with her husband, Rudy, who retired from the Clinton Township Police Department several years ago. Retired, she said she will volunteer with her husband, a military veteran, to assist veterans.
Gacobelli, who grew up on Detroit’s Eastside near Balduck Park said, “I started out working when I was 14 years old at the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club, shoveling horse manure and moving bales of hay.” Later, after working as a hospital EKG technician, Gacobelli decided to enter law enforcement.
“‘I can do this,’” she said to herself then, “I’m good with people. I already knew that. That’s my thing.”
She added, “You know, I hope that I have changed lives along the way. And I know that I have.”
Of her role at the station running dispatch and managing the jail, Gacobelli said, “We can get from zero to a hundred; you never know what you’re going to get.”
She said dispatching fellow officers, her friends, into potential high-risk situations was difficult.
“I’m sending these officers, who are my friends — I love these guys; they’re the bravest guys I know — out there,” she said. When a dispatch resulted in an arrest, she then became responsible for the prisoner and was briefed by the officers she had dispatched.
Like Gacobelli, Bruno said he will miss the camaraderie of his fellow officers most.
Following his uncle’s path, a police officer in Roseville, Bruno launched his law enforcement career 25 years ago in the Farms, a path he looked forward to beginning in childhood.
“When I was a kid and I saw a police car going somewhere, I wanted to be that guy, wherever he was going,” he said.
Bruno and his wife, Rachel, bought a convenience store in a small town in northern Michigan, where they will live and operate their new business together.
“We always talked about owning a business,” he said. “It’s a little tiny party store. And it’s in my wife’s hometown, where she went to high school. So I’ve got a lot of family up there.
“Grosse Pointe Farms is a very professional force to work for,” he added. “And it’s just been an honor to be a part of it.”
Puckett, whom students in the Farms know well for his role as schools liaison for the department, began serving the Farms’ community 32 years ago following four years in Van Buren Township law enforcement.
“Katie (Gacobelli) and I started at the same time,” he said. “She was going to the police academy as a dispatcher and I started as a police officer.”
“(A police officer) has been something — since I was a young boy — that I always aspired to be,” Puckett added.
Following his interest in law enforcement into the Police Explorers Program as a teen, Puckett became a mall security guard and joined the police reserves by the time he was 18.
Puckett, who grew up in Novi, and his wife plan to move to the Brighton area to be closer to their two daughters and grandson.
His retirement plans, he said, are to “take a breather.
“I’m looking forward to my next chapter,” he added.