ELKTON — Capt. Joseph Zurolo walked out of Elkton Police Department’s headquarters on Wednesday, as EPD administrators, officers and detectives stood in lines — saluting him — and representatives of other law enforcement agencies in this county and members of the community watched.
Zurolo strode to a patrol car parked at the curb, slid into the driver’s seat, raised a police radio to his mouth and uttered, “10-42,” which is a code that law enforcement officers give at the end of their shifts to let dispatchers know that they are no longer on patrol, no longer in service.
It marked the last 10-42 for Zurolo, who worked his final shift that day — ending his 25-plus-year career in law enforcement.
“Thank you. This means a lot to me,” Zurolo, 52, said moments later, standing in front of the crowd of well-wishers after he exited the patrol car.
After exchanging salutes with EPD Chief Carolyn Rogers, who then verbally expressed her gratitude to him, Zurolo made his way to every person in attendance and said goodbye with handshakes and, or, salutes, hugs and pats on the shoulders.
Zurolo left the Elkton Police Department that day, but, as it turns out, he did not leave the Town of Elkton.
He is now assistant town administrator, a newly created position in which Zurolo will serve essentially as second-in-command to Town Administrator Lewis H. George, who hired him to that post.
“Team Elkton welcomed the opportunity for Capt. Joseph Zurolo to join our administration following his successful career in law enforcement with the Elkton Police Department . . . Joe brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Elkton community with him, along with his dedication and commitment to public service, and we look forward to having him on our team for many years to come,” George said.
It is noteworthy that, as a captain during his law enforcement career, Zurolo served as second-in-command to then-Chief Matthew Donnelly for approximately eight years and, for the last five weeks, to Rogers, a 30-year agency veteran who was appointed to that top position in late November.
Moreover, Zurolo had served as acting/interim EPD chief for about three months — between August, when Donnelly retired after 31 years with the department, and late November, when Rogers was appointed chief.
Also noteworthy is that Zurolo is the second retired EPD administrator who chose to continue working for the town in a different capacity. After his retirement five months ago, Donnelly was hired as an Elkton Department of Public Works employee.
“It has been a pleasure working with Joe,” Rogers told the Cecil Whig shortly after Wednesday’s last-call ceremony, before commenting, “I am pleased that he will still be here in town and that he’s now going to essentially be my boss. I know that he will be a valuable resource to me, as I grow into my new position.”
Zurolo expressed excitement over starting a different career with the same town — where he already has forged professional relationships with municipal leaders, downtown business owners and others in the community during the years that he served with EPD.
“I feel this is a very organic job transition. I already know the inner workings of the town government,” Zurolo said, adding, “I feel my training and experience with the police department have provided me with knowledge and abilities that have prepared me very well for this new position. I chose a career path that allowed me to serve the community. In this new position, I will be able to serve the community in a different way.”
Law enforcement service
Born and raised in Connecticut, Zurolo, who studied criminal justice at a community college near his hometown, came to this area some 25 years ago, after his uncle, Joseph G. Zurolo Jr., informed him that there was an opening for a deputy position with the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office.
(His uncle, also a Connecticut native, served 35 years in Cecil County and throughout Maryland as a deputy fire marshal with the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal, before retiring in 2010. Before that career, Zurolo served briefly as an EPD patrol officer in the early 1970s. Zurolo Jr. died in February at age 71, after a long illness.)
“Why a career in law enforcement? Like any (police officer) you might ask, my answer, I suppose, would be the same: I wanted to dedicate myself to a career of service. I wanted to help the community, to make it a safer and better place to live,” Zurolo said.
Zurolo served about one year as a CCSO patrol deputy, after then-Sheriff Bill Killough, also now departed, hired him in May 1995. Zurolo then applied for a job with the Elkton Police Department and was hired in 1996 as a patrol officer.
During the 25 years that he served with the agency, Zurolo rose through the ranks to corporal, sergeant, 1st sergeant, lieutenant bureau commander of special operations and then to captain, a position in which, as one of his many duties, he served as the department’s public information officer. In that capacity, Zurolo provided information to the Cecil Whig and other media outlets in this county and elsewhere in the state.
Zurolo received numerous accolades throughout his career. One of them was the Chief’s Commendation, which was bestowed upon Zurolo to recognize him for disarming a knife-wielding, mentally-ill person and then taking that person into custody, without causing any injuries.
Also during the time that he served with EPD, Zurolo received special training to make him an even more effective officer and administrator.
Zurolo, for example, is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, a program for active U.S. law enforcement employees and also for international law enforcement personnel who “seek to enhance their credentials in their field and to raise law enforcement standards, knowledge, and also cooperation worldwide,” according to Zurolo’s career summary, which an emergency dispatcher read over the police radio during his last-call ceremony.
He also is a graduate of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Leadership in Police Organizations, which is the IACP’s flagship leadership development training program. LPO is modeled after the training concept of dispersed leadership, which means, “every officer is a leader,” and it delivers modern behavioral science concepts and theories uniquely tailored to the law enforcement environment.
“Capt. Zurolo’s diverse law enforcement background has provided him the experience and operational knowledge of all elements of the law enforcement field,” according to his career summary.
Time to go
Zurolo decided to retire from law enforcement simply because he knew that it was time for a change, not because of any disenchantment.
“I had a great career, and I loved my career,” Zurolo said, before explaining, “You just know when it’s time to go. I woke up one morning and knew it was time to move forward. I feel revitalized in my new position. I am proud of the work that has been done in the past five or six years by the Elkton Police Department and town leaders to improve this town. I am looking forward to doing my part to make Elkton an even better place to live, work and play.”