Published February 18. 2013 4:00AM Updated February 19. 2013 3:11PM
Vince Riccio has enjoyed a full and diverse career in law enforcement. The East Haven resident's career has spanned different parts of the world, from Korea to Europe, and back to Connecticut.
Vince says he knew he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement when he was 10 years old and living in the Fair Haven section of New Haven. He had to be 21 to join a police force, so he entered the security field after high school.
His first assignment with Central Guard Co. was at Armstrong Rubber Co. After a couple of weeks, he was reassigned to the Hospital of St. Raphael.
At age 19, Vince joined the military and traveled the world as a military police officer and then an investigator. After his service ended, he served for more than eight years as an officer and sergeant in the New Haven Police Department.
Vince then moved to Virginia, where he worked as a private investigator, specializing in finding people and conducting background checks. Vince returned to Connecticut in 1999, moving to East Haven. In 2004, he began working for a national security company.
Since the 1990s, Vince has conducted seminars about active shooters for individuals, businesses, and security personnel.
"Recently, I've decided to do it more," says Vince, who spoke about law changes at the State Capitol recently.
Among the changes Vince wants to see are those related to gun control (including restrictions on assault weapons and more training to acquire gun permits), as well as safety changes to the infrastructure of buildings, such as schools (with automatic release doors and more cameras). He would also like to see changes in standards regarding the security professional criteria and changes to mental health reporting.
Unfortunately, public shootings continue to happen, giving Vince plenty to talk about.
"Every time something happens, [the seminar] changes," says Vince.
He has found an increased interest in his area of expertise after last December's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Vince, who recently started his own business-Security Academy of Connecticut-is bringing his presentation to Hagaman Memorial Library in East Haven on Thursday, March 14 at 5 p.m. The program is for individuals, schools, government, businesses, and organizations.
"The sad part is [gun violence] intrudes on any aspect of our lives," says Vince, noting that shootings may take place in public areas, such as movie theaters, schools, libraries, and gymnasiums.
Vince says he tries to educate his audiences on the types of shooters (school shooters, rampage shooters, and workplace violence shooters) and teach them what they can do if they encounter one. "An active shooter walks into a situation knowing they will die and they want to take as many people with them," says Vince. "People need to understand that to take appropriate action."
In addition to education, Vince also offers training.
"That revolves around run, hide, or fight and I teach how to do all three," says Vince.
While it may be difficult for people to recognize that they need to learn more about active shooters and how to handle situations involving them, it's important, Vince notes, especially as more incidents occur worldwide. Vince says people need to prepare for such situations well before they happen.
"We can't keep our heads in the sand anymore," says Vince. "It's something we've always looked at in the news and seen it happen somewhere else."
The shooting in Newtown brought it closer to Connecticut residents.
"Connecticut is small. It's really come home to a lot of people," says Vince. "We have to think, 'What else we can do differently?' We need to research and try something different."
Fortunately, people are interested in finding the solution. Vince sees that interest in clients, as well as people who attend his seminars.
"The seminars get people talking," says Vince.
He hopes that conversation will help lead to answers that will help keep people safe wherever they are.
Overall, Vince says his goal is to help make some change.
"I have a granddaughter who will enter school in about a year. If I don't do something to change it, it will be too late," he says. "My hope is that she and other kids have a safer place to go to school."