Robert Ciccolo CJ ’02, MACJ ’07, MBA’13

 

Boston Police Captain Robert Ciccolo heard the blasts and saw the white smoke rising from Copley Square while he patrolled in Kenmore Square. It was 2:49 p.m. on Monday, April 15 - Patriots Day and Marathon Monday in Boston.

"At first I wasn't really sure what it was," Bob recalls months after the bombings killed three people, and injured nearly 150 others. "My first thought was that it was some type of colonial reenactment or something. Then of course, you started hearing people yelling on the radio, and you think 'okay, that was a bomb.'"

Bob normally works in the Boston Police Operations Center, as commander of the dispatchers for the 911 system and communications throughout the city.

But, on Marathon Monday, he was supervising more than two dozen officers who, at the moment of the blast, wanted to follow their instincts and run towards the danger.

"I had to stop them. I said, 'if the incident commander wants us down there, he will call for us. Right now we have 5,000 people in Kenmore Square and we have to maintain their safety.'"

Adding to the confusion, thousands of fans were also leaving the Red Sox game at nearby Fenway Park. And, as those fans scrambled to leave the area, they left plenty of bags behind.

"In that situation, every single piece of abandoned property is a potential device," Bob explains. "In the hour after the bombs went off, at least half-a-dozen packages were examined by the bomb squad."

He then spent the next week helping coordinate the response by more than 100 law enforcement agencies.

No stranger to challenges, Bob has earned two degrees and recently earned his third - all at Curry College.

"I graduated high school in 1982.  In 1999 I decided to go back to school, and I went to Curry got my bachelor's degree and then my master's degree in Criminal Justice.  I completed my MBA in August 2013." 

Prior to his current post as commander of the operations division which manages 911 dispatch, he was the commander of district 18 in Hyde Park, which is a patrol division. 

"I'm finding what I've learned in the MBA to be very useful to me in my current position...My thoughts in getting the MBA were originally based on the thought that I'm getting older and may not always be a policeman; I'll do something else when I retire from the police department.  I found that the knowledge that I have obtained during the MBA program has been as useful as what I obtained during the criminal justice programs."

Looking back, he says that the Capstone course offered through the Master of Arts in Criminal Justice program was one of the highlights of his education at Curry.

"My capstone course was very exciting for me. At the time, I was assigned to the Hackney Carriage unit. I did my thesis on Taxi regulation as a public safety measure, and made three recommendations.  A year after, I was actually able to implement two of those three recommendations and change how the city of Boston regulates its taxis, in part based on the research I had done for my master's thesis.  To take the academic research and translate it within a very short period of time into real world regulatory change was very exciting to me."

Bob cites several factors for originally choosing Curry for his undergraduate degree: recommendations from fellow officers, familiarity with faculty members, and the convenient Milton campus location.

"I was going to be getting out of work and rushing to school - so the campus and its proximity to the city made an enormous difference." 

Curry's flexible course scheduling and sense of community also contributed to his success.

"I found the evening classes to be very helpful since I work more than full time...it was the flexibility of the program, the helpfulness of the faculty and staff... I'm a policeman, emergencies happen, and sometimes you get ordered to work.  You don't have a choice.  [The faculty] was very accommodating with that.  Not compromising any of the academic integrity with that, the work still has to be done.  For adult learners - you have to work, you have children, all of these other things that are going on in your life and the program allows you to do it all."

Bob did not hesitate when asked about faculty who made an impression on him.

"The instructor that made the biggest impression on me is Dr. Peter Hainer. Dr. Hainer was the lead instructor for my capstone in the Criminal Justice master's degree program. He guided me in the right direction with my writing, and my research. Peter was wonderful."

"Another instructor who was wonderful was Dr. Rebecca Paynich.  I am not a "math person."  Even with a lifetime of struggling with math, I found the way she presented it and her willingness to help - to be wonderful."

 
 
 
 

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