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Peterborough police Capt. Ernest Belletete makes career change

  • Peterborough police Capt. Ernest Belletete in his office before his retirement from full time police work.  STAFF PHOTO BY Meghan Pierce

  • Peterborough police Capt. Ernest Belletete on patrol in a police cruiser.  Meghan Pierce—

  • Peterborough police Capt. Ernest Belletete in his office before his retirement from full time police work.  Meghan Pierce—

  • Police Capt. Ernest Belletete patrols Main Street in Peterborough. Meghan Pierce—

  • Peterborough police Capt. Ernest Belletete patrols Route 101 in Peterborough.  Meghan Pierce—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/30/2018 1:49:13 PM

Peterborough police Capt. Ernest Belletete is retiring from his full-time position at the department at the end of May.

“It’s been a great town. I love working here,” Belletete said.

Belletete, 52, has spent his entire 31-year career as a police officer with the Peterborough Police Department, but said it is time to transition into a new career.

“The time has come to make a little change. Do something a little different,” he said.  

Belletete and his family moved from Jaffrey to Keene in April where he plans to work full-time for Diluzio Foley Funeral Home as a funeral assistant.

“I’ve always been involved with death investigations working in the police department,” Belletete said, adding about his new chosen field. “It’s not something that a lot of people would do.”

However, funeral home work incorporates all of the skills Belletete has always found most important in his police work, including friendliness and compassion.

“It’s one of those things where you need someone who is compassionate, friendly and is willing to talk to people and I’ve done that for 31 years. I guess I’ve always had an interest in that,” Belletete said.

His interest in the field has grown over the past five years since he started working part-time for Jellison Funeral Home in Peterborough. And while it was a difficult decision, Belletete said he knew it was time to move into a new field.

“A lot of other officers – that have retired, that have done it for many years – have said, ‘You will know when to retire. When it’s time to do something different.’ And that was true for me. It was just time to make a little bit of a change. … I still love to do police work,” Belletete said, adding. “I’m very excited to start my new career in the funeral home business.”

Belletete is well-known in both Peterborough and his longtime home of Jaffrey for his community service.

In Jaffrey he has served on the Zoning Board of Adjustment as well as numerous other boards and committees.

“He’s an outstanding person and they are an outstanding family,” said Jaffrey Police Chief Bill Oswalt. “It’s a loss to the community. We’ve benefited from the things he did for our town and the region. … I consider him an outstanding individual. He’s had a great career as a police officer and I consider him a friend.”

In Peterborough, Belletete has been an active member of the Kiwanis Club for the past 20 years, for which he ran an annual holiday dinner for seniors for many years. He has also been on the board of MATS – Monadnock Area Transition Shelter – for the past ten years and is current president of the MATS board.

Belletete said he has always seen his volunteer work as an extension of his police work.

“I’ve always tried to give back to the community. I’ve always enjoyed community service. And that’s the stuff that I’ve done in my 31 years whether it’s the senior dinners or being involved with Kiwanis or being involved with the MATS shelter, which I’m president of,” Belletete said. “It’s always been about giving back and it’s sort of what I thought police officers should do. You get to serve and protect, which is what our job is, but also I feel you should give back to the community a little bit and help where you can.”

He added that his commitment to the community is also a good fit for his new career.

“The funeral home is all about that. It’s all about being involved in the community,” Belletete said.

Belletete admits it is rare for an officer to stay so long in one department, however, it’s been a great work environment and he has enjoyed working with Police Chief Scott Guinard, who has been at the department even longer than Belletete.

“I’ve enjoyed working here. I think the people in Peterborough are fantastic, very supportive of the police department, which I think is very good too. We’ve had good officers. We’ve had a lot of officers that have come through the doors here that are chiefs of police now in other towns all around the area. So you’ve got to think there’s something good with that,” Belletete said.

Guinard, Belletete said, has been a good boss and a good friend.

Guinard, who joined the Peterborough police force in 1985 and became chief in 1997, said he will miss Belletete both professionally and personally.

“We’ve worked together for 31 years,” said Guinard, who just hit the 32-year mark at the department. “Early on in our careers we worked a lot of shifts together.”

From day shifts to the midnight shift, he said. Later they trained together on accident reconstruction.

“We worked a lot of fatalities together,” he said.

And together ran the department’s firearms training program.

“He and I both moved up through the ranks and worked very closely together and roughly for the past 20 years he has been my number two man, which has not only benefited me, but the agency itself,” Guinard said.

Becoming chief has never been a goal for Belletete even when opportunities to become chief in another town arose, he said. “That’s never been a goal of mine. I’ve always been happy here. I have a lot of history in this town. Even prior to me starting my grandfather was chief of police here in this town for 23 years back in the 40s and 50s. It’s just been a lot of history here.”

Belletete and his wife of 27 years, Paula, moved to Keene in April.

“It’s tough being in law enforcement. It’s tough on the family,” Belletete said. “She has always been supportive.”

Their oldest is son, Matt, is a police officer in Weare.

“He’s married now and he’s a police officer in Weare. It’s kind of humbling to see him following in my footsteps,” Belletete said. “I’m kind of honored to see him do that.”

Their second child, Katie is a Keene State College student.

“She wants to be a pre-school teacher. Another great profession giving back to the community,” Belletete said.

The youngest child, Rachel, is still in high school.

Belletete will stay on part-time for the Peterborough force to help with the transition, he said.

As second in command in Peterborough, Belletete has handled numerous administrative duties for the department including the hiring process, day-to-day operations, scheduling officer details, vehicle maintenance and firearms training.

Antrim Police Chief Scott Lester worked under Belletete before becoming chief in Antrim.

Lester said he worked for the Lyndeborough and Hancock departments before joining the Peterborough force in 1998. At the Peterborough department, Lester said Belletete became a friend and a mentor who taught him more about the administrative side of police work.

“He was my supervisor. He was a Sgt. at the time and he handled investigations,” Lester said. “He always got us involved with that. He let us work the cases with him and got us involved in the hiring process.”

Lester credits his three supervisors – Guinard, retired Lt. Bruce McCall and Belletete – in Peterborough for his police career today.

“Peterborough’s produced a lot of chiefs in the area and I give a lot of credit to all three supervisors I had when I was there,” Lester said. “Having those three guys as mentors and having them to look up to helped me figure out what I wanted to do. … I loved my time in Peterborough and it set a great foundation for where I am today and I owe a lot to the supervisors I had when I was there.”

Lester said Belletete is an easy person to get along with and in many ways “the person that he is” helped Lester to become the police officer that he is today.

“Ernie became a close friend as well and I bounced a lot off of him over the years. Even after becoming chief,” Lester said. “It’s rare to see officers these days that have worked in one department for 31 years and that says lot about him, his loyalty and his work in the town. …He’s going to be sorely missed.”


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