Democrat Ciliano Talks Priorities in Run for Old Saybrook Police Commission

Democrat Mark Ciliano, a candidate for the Police Commission in Old Saybrook (Photo: Old Saybrook Democrats)


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OLD SAYBROOK — CT Examiner spoke with Democrat Mark Ciliano, a candidate for the Police Commission, about his priorities and reason for running. 

Ciliano worked for 45 years at General Dynamics Electric Boat, where he was second vice president for the local branch of the Marine Draftsman Association/United Auto Workers union.  

Republican Candidates Jackie Prast and Joe Maselli declined to be interviewed. Candidate and current Police Commissioner Carl Von Dassel told CT Examiner he was out of the country and unable to speak. 

“I am looking forward to serving the town for another term if elected. We live in a wonderful town and I’d like to see it stay that way,” Von Dassel wrote in his email. 

The following interview with Ciliano has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Why are you running for Police Commission?

I feel it’s important to run for this position because of my union experience. It helped me understand how the police force and citizens can work together effectively. I’ve been a team lead at work — I’m retired for 13 years —  and it shows me how to work with good leaders and retain a stable workforce. 

Do you support an organizational climate study done by an independent consultant?

I am strongly in favor of a non-biased independent study such as the one the Board of Selectmen recommended to the Police Department this week. The Democrat members of the Commission have always been asking for this study, for almost two years, and I’m really sorry I can’t vote for it.

We can’t keep on going through people like we’re going through people. And I really feel that recruitment and retention is important to have a stable workforce. We’ve got to get this through the Police Commission and support the goals so that we can establish a strong and unified police department. 

It’ll work. It’s got to go from the police chief down to the patrolman, though. And I feel that they should go to the last 10 people that left, no matter if they left for retirement, they left to go get another job or they got fired. 

Do you support a performance evaluation of the Chief of Police?

Everybody needs to be evaluated, from the police chief to the patrolmen. If they’re going to do the police chief, they have to do the deputy chief. If they [do the] deputy chief, the captain and all the patrolmen. They just can’t single the chief out.

What is the Commissioner’s responsibility in responding to complaints made by citizens? 

I think that’s very important. I think that you need to listen to what the citizens of Old Saybrook have to say, because instilling their trust provides the oversight they demand and embraces the art of compromise to find solutions to future challenges.

If police commissioners were to hear a complaint from a citizen, should they be looking into it themselves? Or should they pass it immediately to the chief?

They should do it together with the police chief and the commission. The commission has to work together with the police chief and the head of the union if they have issues that pertain to the patrolmen. 

What are your thoughts about some of the complaints from officers regarding a toxic work environment and concerns expressed in exit interviews? 

All this happened before I’d been elected. So all I can do is look forward to the interviews that happen if I get elected. What happened in the past, I don’t want to make a statement on, because I wasn’t there. 

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.