Person of the Week
David Emerman: Rising in the Ranks
David Emerman has been recognized as a leader soon after he joined the East Haven Police Department in 2004, and his latest move will be a promotion to captain alongside fellow lieutenant (and recent Person of the Week) Joseph Murgo. (Photo courtesy of David Emerman )
Lieutenant David Emerman of the East Haven Police Department is moving up to the rank of captain, thanks to his good work and 16 years of dedication to the town of East Haven. Dave will assume his new post on July 1.
Dave is making the move to captain alongside Lieutenant Joseph Murgo, who was featured as Person of the Week in January 2019—find that story at Zip06.com.
After starting out as a sworn patrol officer in 2004, Dave was the department’s first Spanish-speaking officer, and served as compliance officer to the Department of Justice after the department went through changes following an investigation into civil rights violations of minorities by some the officers nearly a decade ago. He has also served as the department’s public information officer, among other duties.
Having grown up outside the New Haven area, Dave says, “I’m one of the few transplants, if you will, while most people are from around here. I didn’t know where Main Street was or the police department. I had to look at a map. Of course, this was before GPS.”
For Dave, the thought of a career in police work found its beginnings in the career track of an older sibling.
“One of my older brothers had known from the time he was in high school [that] he wanted to become a police officer,” he says. “I didn’t go that route at all. I didn’t study criminal justice at the time.”
After high school, Dave earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and found his first job at a jewelry manufacturing supplies company in Bridgeport.
“I started as a customer service person, answering phones, stuff like that, and I worked there for a little over four years,” he says.
While business was on Dave’s mind, the influence of that older brother slowly won him over to police work.
“The more I talked to my brother, [the more] I got interested,” he remembers. “He was always telling these good stories, and now he’s a very high ranking police officer in Washington, D.C.”
Then 9/11 happened.
“That’s when I got more interest in police work,” Dave says, “because I was not that interested in going into the military, but after seeing what happened, shortly after that, I started taking police tests, sometime in 2002, and I got the call in January 2004 and started the [police] academy in March.”
Starting out would not be easy, however.
“I did really well on that first test I took. They posted the scores right after you took the test, and I had the highest score [of the class] on the written test, but I failed the physical test for Southbury PD,” he says.
Dave then took tests at other police departments across Connecticut, and East Haven gave him his first conditional offer of employment. After that, he had to pass all the conditional steps to become a full officer on the force.
“A couple days after I got the acceptance from here [East Haven] I got another offer from another agency, but I had already committed to East Haven,” Dave says.
Now, after nearly two decades, Dave says he is “very glad” he chose East Haven for his policing career.
East Haven, like many other police departments, has changed—and improved—to keep up with the times.
“Some years back we sort of did just the minimum, but in recent years we’ve leap-frogged to the front of the line as far a police training goes,” Dave notes. “We’ve gone from a minimum of training to the top of training, where we probably train more than just about anybody else in the state.”
Keeping the East Haven Police Department at the top of its game when it comes to effective community policing is something Dave will now have more responsibility for in his new role as captain of the department’s patrol division.
“It’s kind of a switch,” Dave says. “I’ve been doing administrative duties all the years I’ve been a lieutenant, whereas Lt. Joseph Murgo, who has also just promoted to captain, was a patrol lieutenant and just recently switched into an administrative role.
“Most people assumed I’d be the administrative guy and he’d be the patrol guy. We had some discussions with the chief, and we decided to switch things up a bit,” Dave says. “[Joe and I] work great together, so we’re looking forward to our new, changing roles here. I’m very excited about it.”
Outside of work duties, Dave says he loves to tinker with machines around the house.
“I love being outdoors working on my lawn equipment, or any machine that’s not working at my house,” Dave says. “That’s where I get my enjoyment. I don’t want to say I’m the greatest at it, but I’m pretty good.”
While no single incident stands out to Dave as something that is etched in his memory regarding his time as a police officer, he acknowledges that it is the little moments—and thank-yous over the years—he remembers the most.
One of those memories Dave recalls with fondness.
“I went to a call for a damaged property complaint, somewhere on Coe Avenue near the beach. Someone backed into an old lady’s white post fence, and knocked the fence over. After writing up the report I said to myself ‘Let’s see if I can fix this.’ I banged the post into the ground and stood the fence back up. The lady sent a note to the police station, thanking me for fixing the fence. That one thing stands out in my head a lot more than many of the other, bigger events,” Dave says.
“I’ve been to all kinds of incidents, good and bad, through the years. There’s some stuff I wish I could unsee, but that thank you note, and a few other little ones, stand out to me among the positive incidents.”