UDaily article by Diane Stopyra
April 07, 2020
Brandon Pellegrini may not be a sworn police officer yet, but he has already had some dramatic experiences enforcing the law. There was that time in 2017, for example, that he helped apprehend a man packing a stolen firearm in a secluded area.
But if you ask him what his most memorable moment has been, he will point to something you won’t see on an episode of “Cops” or “Live PD.” He will tell you about the time he found a missing dog — a beloved German shorthaired pointer/bluetick hound mix — and returned the pet to its panicked guardian, four miles away.
“It wasn’t very exciting,” Pellegrini said. “But it was so rewarding. Police work is all about helping and bettering the community in so many different ways. I know it sounds like the most clichéd thing I could probably ever say, but I just want to help people.”
Pellegrini, who graduated from the University of Delaware's Associate in Arts Program (AAP) in Wilmington in 2018 and is now a senior in the criminal justice program, serves as a cadet dispatcher and cadet supervisor with the UD Police Department, and he also serves as a park patrol officer with the Delaware Natural Resources Police, enforcing regulations at state parks. This dual experience has been invaluable in his mission to become a Delaware state trooper — a dream years in the making.
When Pellegrini was a 14-year-old student at Newark High School, at the behest of his parents, he volunteered at the Newark Senior Center, where he befriended one 90-year-old member. The man had lost his wife a few years prior and was concerned about the state of his wedding photo album. The pictures were so old, they were beginning to crack.
“So I helped him scan them all and use Photoshop to take the cracks out,” Pellegrini said. “He was so grateful he was practically in tears. It meant so much to me, and after that experience, I knew helping people was something I wanted to do for a career.”
But Pellegrini wasn’t sure what that career should look like — at least, that is, until the following year when he joined the Newark Police Department’s Explorers program, which gives high school students a window into law enforcement. After one St. Patrick’s Day ridealong, Pellegrini was hooked. He was only supposed to observe for four hours, he said, but he convinced an officer to let him tag along for the entire 12-hour shift, until 7 a.m. He felt especially intrigued by one D.U.I arrest.
“So much of police work is reactive,” Pellegrini said. “You get a call because someone was stabbed, or this person overdosed or there’s been a car crash — whereas with D.U.I. enforcement, you’re able to act proactively and potentially save lives.”
When it came time to apply for college, UD seemed the obvious choice. As a first-year student, Pellegrini joined the UD Police Department’s cadet team, comprised of part-time student employees who monitor security cameras, assist with event security and act as safety escorts for fellow members of the UD community. During his sophomore year, Pellegrini was promoted to cadet supervisor, meaning (when campus is not closed due to the coronavirus) he oversees 50 of his peers. He’s also one of only six cadets who underwent a 24-week training program to become a cadet dispatcher. Translation: He takes calls from students in distress and keeps them calm while coordinating a response from sworn officers. Since 2017, Pellegrini has also served as a part-time park patrol officer for the Delaware Natural Resources Police, where he maintains safety procedures at White Clay Creek State Park, about four miles from campus. (It has remained open during the coronavirus pandemic.) While he doesn’t carry a gun, he is equipped with everything else, from handcuffs to a marked car. It was here that he encountered — and recovered — the stolen firearm, alongside the park’s sworn officers.