Farruggio won't be keeping his department-issued handcuffs.
Farruggio's loss of a car is Sergeant Bobby Haney's gain. Jan Farruggio (background) watches her husband shed the trappings of his life in law enforcement.
photo by Lisa Provence
If a guy has been a cop for 25 years in Charlottesville, yeah, there are going to be some stories.
"We had some prior information that UVA students were going to be streaking," reveals Captain Gary Pleasants. "I told everyone not to go to UVA. The next day I see on the cover of the Cavalier Daily Mike Farruggio and another officer, standing there with a naked guy in the picture."
It's Farruggio's last day with the Charlottesville Police Department, and Pleasants relates the story while eating a piece of raspberry drip cake as colleagues file in to say farewell.
Sergeant Bobby Haney, who succeeds Farruggio in staff development and accreditation, recalls SWAT training. "We hadn't rappelled in a couple of years," he says, standing in Farruggio's old/Haney's new office. "Mike says he'll go first. He gets out on a 40-foot fire tower, sits back in his gear, flips back, and he's hanging upside down."
Brooklyn-born Farruggio remembers the culture shock moving down to Charlottesville after working two years for NYPD, including a stint in New York's notorious 77th precinct, where a colleague left the windows open in his squad car, and returned to find the car on fire.
On the mean streets of Charlottesville, Farruggio started as a beat cop on August 29, 1988, and worked night shift for six years. He spent six years in narcotics. He made detective. He met the woman who's now been his wife of 16 years, Jan, who's still a dispatcher. And he served on the Planning Commission.
The biggest change over the 27 years he served in law enforcement? "Better equipment and better training," says Farruggio. "And we've moved more toward community policing."
"You were part of a lot of new initiatives here," observes Captain Wendy Lewis.
Farruggio is ready for a new stint of community service as his run for City Council kicks into high gear once he's officially out of the Charlottesville Police Department. He's running as a Republican in overwhelmingly Dem Charlottesville, where the last Republican to get elected was Rob Schilling in 2002. Attorney Buddy Weber, who's sharing the ticket with Farruggio, stops by the police department for a piece of cake.
He says the two GOPers have already knocked on hundreds of doors. "He's got a great eye for detail," says Weber "He sees things that could be done better or done another way."
Farruggio wheels a shopping cart out of the police department to his CPD-issued car to turn in 25 years worth of equipment, including nearly a dozen uniforms.
In the elevator going back upstairs, Sergeant Brian O'Donnell puts dibs on Farruggio's incoming uniform shirts. "You can leave your money laying around here," he says, "but don't leave your gear."
Farruggio turns in his handcuffs, his baton, his belt. But state statute allows him to keep his service weapon.
That raises the question, if Farruggio is elected to City Council, will he attend armed?
"Mike will keep the piece and I'll make sure justice is done," says Weber, although maybe he meant "peace."
Sergeant Haney is eager to take over Farruggio's car— it's the second time he's inherited a Farruggio cast-off, he says. "Yay, air conditioning."
The soon-to-be retired officer says he's had some time to psychologically adjust to not working as a cop when he was out on sick leave for six weeks for knee surgery earlier, so it's not going to be cold turkey.
After Labor Day, the election season begins in earnest, and Mike Farruggio is ready to begin a new career, he hopes as a city councilor. Plan B? He's pretty good with a hammer and nails.