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Son of wounded Woburn police officer sworn in

Father shot during robbery attended induction of 11

MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF

Robert C. DeNapoli Jr. (center) was inducted as one of 11 of the Woburn Police Department’s newest members, assuming the rank of reserve patrolman last night at a ceremony at Woburn High School. Afterward, he shared a moment with his father, Officer Robert DeNapoli Sr., who was shot four times while responding to a jewelry store heist last September in Woburn.

WOBURN - Robert C. DeNapoli Jr., the son of the Woburn police officer wounded by gunfire in a jewelry store robbery in September, raised his right hand last night before some 600 people and solemnly swore to accept the same duties as his father.

In doing so, DeNapoli, 27, became one of the Woburn Police Department’s newest members as a reserve patrolman, which is the first step in the ranks of Woburn police officers.

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“In the past two years there has been a lot of tragedy in the police department,’’ said Mayor Scott D. Galvin of Woburn, referring to the shootings of DeNapoli’s father, Officer Robert DeNapoli Sr., and the 2010 fatal shooting of Officer John B. Maguire.

“They have gone through a lot, and tonight shows our commitment to public safety,’’ he said. “It’s a good night for the city.’’

DeNapoli was one of a group of nine men and two women sworn in as reserve officers at emotional ceremony at Woburn Memorial High School.

After taking the oath, DeNapoli, nicknamed “Bobby,’’ dressed in a suit and tie, shook hands with Galvin and Police Chief Robert J. Ferullo Jr. He was accompanied to the ceremony by his father, mother, and brother.

In early September, Robert DeNapoli Sr. was shot four times after responding to a jewelry store robbery. He has yet to return to work, but the entire force is looking forward to the day he comes back, Ferullo said.

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DeNapoli family members declined to comment at the ceremony last evening.

DeNapoli’s appointment signifies that police officers have been in his family for three generations. In addition to his father, his grandfather on his mother’s side worked for the department, the chief said.

DeNapoli was one of three multigeneration police officers sworn in. Kylee Lally became a third-generation police officer and Andrew J. Albertelli is the son of Winchester’s police chief, Ken Albertelli.

“It’s always impressive to see that the child follows the footsteps of the father,’’ said state Senator Ken Donnelly of Arlington.

Donnelly is a former Lexington firefighter whose father was a firefighter in Cambridge and whose brother Al recently retired from Woburn’s police department.

“Especially when you see someone who has done such a tremendous job and was critically injured in the line of duty,’’ Donnelly said. “To see his son sworn in means an awful lot. It’s very moving.’’

DeNapoli’s appointment “was in the works long before his dad got shot,’’ said Ferullo. “He’s probably been involved in the process since he was 21.’’

A long wait is common, Ferullo said, because there are about 400 people on the list of possible hires. To be hired, prospective officers must take state civil service exams.

Once hired, reserve officers go through a 240-hour training program. The reserves then are assigned to work special events, traffic details, and other similar jobs. After three or four years, they are eligible to be hired as full-time officers and must wait for a position to open, Ferullo said.

While waiting, DeNapoli had worked public service jobs, most recently as a state court officer.

DeNapoli’s brother, Keegan, 26, is also on the waiting list for reserve patrolmen, Ferullo said.

Ferullo said there are about five father-and-son pairs on the Woburn force.

“It’s common because it’s a culture,’’ he said. Children grow up, see their parents working nights and holidays, and understand the lifestyle. “They see their fathers do it and that’s what draws them to it,’’ Ferullo said.

But that does not mean that the sons and daughters of police officers are shoo-ins for the job, he said.

“Everybody who gets hired in this father-son situation still has to pass the civil service exams,’’ Ferullo said. “There’s no side doors to the police department.’

Ferullo added that the timing of DeNapoli’s appointment had nothing to do with his father’s injury in the field. Nor did it deter him from the job, he said.

“He wants to do it,’’ he said, “He hasn’t flinched at all.’’

With the new hires, the department will be running a full staff, which, Ferullo said, is a part of the mayor’s attempt to bolster public safety in light of crime over recent years, including the September shooting of Robert DeNapoli Sr. and the fatal shooting of Maguire in December 2010.

Alli Knothe can be reached at aknothe@globe.com.

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