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Rockville Centre appoints veteran to lead village police force

The Village of Rockville Centre has appointed Lt. James Vafeades as its new police commissioner, ending Charles Gennario’s eight years at the helm of the department, officials said Wednesday.

Vafeades is to be sworn in April 9, according to a news release from the village. He was hired to the force in 1990, promoted to sergeant in 2002 and to lieutenant in 2010.

“I have full confidence that Lieutenant Vafeades is the right person for this important position,” Village Mayor Francis X. Murray said in the release. “He knows our Village and will provide the level of leadership and safety we have come to expect from our Police Commissioner.”

Gennario’s contract expires on March 31. He previously said in an email to Newsday that he was given “the option of returning to my former civil service rank of lieutenant,” but plans to instead retire after 32 years with the department.

The personnel changes come after a controversial February for the village police department. A Nassau judge acquitted Officer Anthony Federico on Feb. 6 of police brutality and other charges after a trial. Four days later, Officer Christopher Stafford was accused of secretly recording a sexual encounter in his bedroom and was arrested by Nassau County police. He was subsequently suspended from the force.

“This is one of the safest communities in New York and is a credit to the outstanding officers in our Police Department,” Vafeades said in the release. “We will continue to work hard to ensure that our Village remains a desirable community where people want to live, raise a family and conduct business.”

According to the news release, Vafeades has been a patrol supervisor and has also overseen the department’s anti-gang, anti-crime, juvenile and traffic units. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. John’s University and most recently earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Molloy College in Rockville Centre.

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