Michael Palmerino, right, a 23-year-old Amsterdam man who was successfully treated for an uncommon autoimmune disorder with a minimally invasive surgical procedure at Albany Medical Center fulfilled his dream of becoming a police officer when he graduated from the Zone 5 Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy on Friday.
Palmerino, whose condition prevented him from talking just two years ago, joined 44 other police recruits during the graduation.
Two summers ago, Palmerino found himself progressively weakening to the point that he periodically lost the ability to talk, chew, or swallow. Palmerino will begin work with the Amsterdam Police Department. His father at left, Joseph Palmerino, a retired Amsterdam Police Department Detective, congratulates Michael after getting his diploma.
SCHENECTADY Newly minted police Officer Michael Palmerino is thrilled to be following in the footsteps of his father, uncle and cousin.
Palmerino starts his job today at the Amsterdam Police Department after graduating from the Zone 5 Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy on Friday.
But Palmerino’s police career was almost over before it started. Two years ago, the Amsterdam native began suffering major health problems.
At a glance
Zone 5 Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy graduates:
Albany Police Department: Jacob Conlin, Arber Dragoj, Matthew Haker, Lanhaire Johnson, Shane Kosakowski, David Kozakiewicz, Justin Nowak, Woody Riboul, David Romano, Gianfranco Santaniello, Edward Whitty
Albany County Sheriff’s Office: Ty Bariteau, William Gannon, Nicholas Jaeger, Kristina Jenkins, Kyle Keane, Gregory Kehrer, Tyler Moffatt, Vincent Nischo, Matthew Schiller, Anthony Sidoti
Amsterdam Police Department: Michael Palmerino
Cambridge Police Department: Christopher Davis-Flynn
Colonie Police Department: John Calabrese, Zacharias Ruter
Glens Falls Police Department: Jeffrey Daigle, Ryan Schroeck
Glenville Police Department: Casey Greene, Andrew Goyer, Michael Tomaso
Guilderland Police Department: Kyle McCormick
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office: Jeremy Liggett
North Greenbush Police Department: Josiah Deeb
Northville Police Department: Seth Mitchell
Rensselaer Police Department: Zachary Bourdeau, Mark Fusco, John Mooney
Rotterdam Police Department: Eric Armstrong
Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office: Jonathan Grady
Saratoga Springs Police Department: Tyler McIntosh, Frederick Warfield
Schenectady Police Department: Duane Bechand, Bradley Carlton, Michael Gailor, Jared Jupin
“I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t chew, swallow food. I lost a lot of weight,” he said.
The toughest part was nobody could find out what was wrong.
In August of that year, he was diagnosed at Albany Medical Center with a rare autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis that affects muscle receptors. He was treated with medication and Dr. Thomas Fabian removed his thymus gland.
Palmerino has since made a full recovery and is symptom free. “I thank my family for standing by my side. It’s been a wish and a dream to work there,” he said.
Amsterdam Police Chief Gregory Culick said Palmerino didn’t give up — even when he broke his ankle during tactical training — and has unbelievable character. “On the street, he’s going to be the finest of cops. I can tell by his personality,” he said.
Palmerino was one of 45 graduates to receive their certificates in a two-hour ceremony in Schenectady County Community College’s Taylor Auditorium.
In his address to the graduates, student leader Woody Riboul gave a special thank you to the instructors, especially session counselor Rick Romand, a detective with the Albany Police Department. He set a high bar for the cadets to teach and taught them about maintaining integrity, demonstrating leadership, keeping strong mentally and physically and giving back to the community, Riboul said.
“The discipline and the drive imposed and instilled in us by the Zone 5 academy no doubt inspired each and every one of us to reach our potential,” he said.
He concluded his remarks with a paraphrase of a quote from the movie “End of Watch.”
“We stand together — a thin blue line — protecting the prey from the predators. We are the police,” he said.
Before sending the graduates off, they showed a short video of their tough training at the 26-week academy, including instruction in shooting, driving, tackling suspects and fighting off dogs.
Romand said the keys to the graduates’ success at the academy could be summed up in two words — “mission” and “vision.”
“Having a clear idea what our mission was and having a vision to achieve it,” he said.
Being in law enforcement can be fun at times and most certainly dangerous, but most importantly, it’s a calling, according to Romand.
“Don’t settle for just being a police officer. Do great things and be somebody,” he said.
Jeremy Liggett of Glenville, a new deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, said he wanted to be a police officer to serve his community.
“You’re always held to a higher standard,” he said.
Liggett received the Excellence in Firearms award. He said the key to getting through the academy was staying focused, especially for the first couple of weeks.
New Glenville Officer Andrew Goyer of Halfmoon agreed that the first week was probably the toughest. “You’re hearing the foosteps behind you — the drill instructor — and hoping he passes by you,” he said.