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Mike Springer/Daily News staff
Milford Police dispatcher Antonio Dinis works at police headquarters on Monday.

By Danielle Ameden/Daily News staff
Posted Oct 13, 2008 @ 11:27 PM

As kids, Antonio Dinis and Paul Pinto dreamed of becoming cops. Now both are Milford Police dispatchers hoping to join the local force - and one needs Town Meeting's help as he tries to earn a badge.
Dinis, 36, goes to special Town Meeting on Oct. 27 seeking special legislation to make him eligible to be a Milford Police officer if he passes a civil service exam. It would exempt him from a maximum age limitation of 32.
But even with the legislation, Dinis will need to follow the highly competitive selection process and prove merit for any upcoming open jobs.
"He's a great employee - he would be a good police officer if given the opportunity," said Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin, who plans to tell voters of Dinis' qualifications. "The dependent factor is how he does on the exam."
The legislation - which has been OK'd for Dinis three times before - needs the governor's approval and is only valid until the next round of test scores are calculated.
Dinis and Pinto - who at 25 is within the age restrictions - say they plan to keep improving their skills and taking the civil service exams until they get hired in their hometown.
"It's just a dream - a goal we have to become a police officer," Dinis said.
"It all comes down to openings," Pinto said. "The opportunity to have the opportunity is hard enough, and then the selection process is a whole other battle."
To get on Milford's certified list of candidates, one must get a 70 or better on the tough civil service test.
O'Loughlin said only a select number of top scorers can even be considered for an open job, although chiefs can request the list be filtered if they are looking for a specific skill set, such as proficiency in foreign languages.
Dinis and Pinto both hail from Portugal and count their fluency in Portuguese and Spanish as something that might give them an edge in a town as culturally diverse as Milford.
"It's huge here," Pinto said.
With Detective Carlos Sousa the only officer who speaks the languages, the dispatchers say they are often called upon to translate for non-English speaking immigrants.
Many times, victims of fire or crime will call or come to the station, and start, "Spanish, please," Dinis said.
Or, Pinto said, patrolmen will use their cell phones to call one of the two dispatchers when they have a language barrier to break through.
O'Loughlin said there is definitely a need for the language skills in Milford, where he encourages any victim to report problems to police.
"That said, you then need the means to communicate because communication is key," the chief said.
Dinis said he has helped out Bellingham before, while Pinto recalled helping out Uxbridge the other night with booking after an operating under the influence arrest.
"They're phenomenal to us," O'Loughlin said. "They're great assets - both of those guys."
Dinis came to America when he was 19, and worked at Mazzarelli's Bakery delivering bread before taking jobs as a Framingham State College campus security officer and dispatcher in Hudson, Milford and Millville.
"I started working in this field, going from the bottom up," Dinis said.
Pinto came here when he was 5, and has a criminal justice degree from Worcester State College - something he said gives him a competitive boost. He did an internship with Milford, and has worked up to be full-time dispatcher.
Both graduated from Milford High School.
Both scored in the 87-89 category out of 100 on the last civil service exam, and hope to do even better when they retest in the spring.
Pinto is now enrolled in the full-time, 16-week Law Enforcement Certificate Program, studying an intense curriculum of constitutional law, criminal law, motor vehicle law, firearms training, radar enforcement and other things.
Dinis starts on Monday at the Plymouth Regional Police Academy, hoping - like Pinto - that getting a diploma will give him an edge over other officer candidates who would need to be academy-trained after they are hired.
Both are hoping their investment of dedication and time will pay off.
"I just keep trying to add something else to make me more valuable," said Pinto, who hopes to get certified as an emergency medical technician after his police training.
O'Loughlin, who is the town's appointing authority, said he is currently looking to fill the job recently vacated by Officer Arthur Russo's retirement.
This time around, the chief said he is looking to hire an experienced officer from another town who can move laterally into Milford's department.
"There's people I'm talking to, people I'm looking at," he said.
While Dinis and Pinto may not be right for this particular opening, O'Loughlin said they are both astute, understand the business and have the abilities to benefit his department.
"Both of them," he said, "if I can get them, I'd love to have them."
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