Contact: Patty McQuillan
Date: May 31, 2011
Phone: (919) 733-5027 x3

Employee Spotlight: State Capitol Police Sgt. Philip Capucille 

Philip Capucille is a sergeant with the State Capitol Police. This is his second law enforcement career after serving 29 years with the Raleigh Police Department and retiring as a lieutenant. His grandfather on his mother's side also worked for the State Capitol Police during the Kerr-Scott Sr.era.

The fraternal side of the Capucille family story starts in Compobassa, Italy, a town southeast of Rome when Capucille's grandparents immigrated to the United States. At Ellis Island, their surname was changed from Cappuccilli (pronounced capachelli) to Capucille (pronounced capacelle) because the immigration officer said there were too many letters. His father, Henry, was born in Sault St. Marie, Michigan and later joined the U.S. Army where he served for 35 years. He was the first Officer in the U.S. Army to earn the Silver Star for his valor during the Normandy Beach invasion, when he and a non-commissioned officer rolled several barrels of gasoline into nearby water and away from a fire that could have blown up the bunker where at the time, U.S. Army generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley were meeting.

Capucille said he didn't learn of his father's valor and being awarded the Silver Star until after he passed on at the age of 84. He said his father was brilliant, and enjoyed serving under Omar Bradley. Capucille said his parents met in the army. When Henry, a lieutenant at the time, proposed to Capucille's mom, Anne Perry of Raleigh, who was an army sergeant, it was Omar Bradley that got her an honorable discharge from the Army so Anne could accept Henry's proposal. It was also Omar Bradley who gave Anne away at the military wedding. During the occupation of Germany, the couple was stationed in Salzburg, Austria, where, Philip, was born in 1951, their third child. The family moved frequently, two years in Taiwan, and stints in Guam, the Philippines, Manila and Hawaii. Henry Capucille's next assignment was in Washington D.C. at the Pentagon, and the family lived in Falls Church, Va., for several years. When his father received the assigned to Ft. Stewart, Ga., Capucille, his mother and three siblings, returned to Raleigh for a year. Once his father got settled in at Fort Stewart, the family joined the senior Capucille for the next four years.

In 1965, when his father retired from the U.S. Army, the family returned to Raleigh to live permanently. Capucille attended Aycock Elementary and Enloe High School. In high school, he excelled in mechanical drafting and art and when he graduated from Enloe in 1970, he attended Holding Technical College, now Wake Community College. He graduated with an Associate Degree in Architectural Technology in 1972. He would return for another degree 24 years later at Wake Technical Community College for an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice.

Capucille did hand drafting for three architectural firms in the span of five years. His jobs were eliminated during the 1970's recession, so he lived for a year with a farm family in Knightdale helping with the tobacco crop. However, it was a bad year for tobacco, and Capucille knew he needed more stability in his life. He heard that the Raleigh Police Department was hiring. He met with a recruiter and met the minimum requirements for the job. Capucille was hired on May 2, 1977 with a substantial salary improvement over drafting.

Capucille joined 35 students in Raleigh PD's Basic Law Enforcement Training Class. He was 5'9” and weighed 145 lbs. when he started the Academy, and was told he could not graduate until he weighed 150 lbs. He was number one in physical fitness, and although he'd never fired a gun in his life, he was number three in his class in firing a handgun. His hours of memorizing vocabulary words, definitions and the 10 Codes enabled him to finish 12th overall academically. Upon graduating from the academy, he spent three and a half years on patrol. Capucille continued to work out and train for a spot with the department's tactical unit. He was selected to become a member of the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team where he spent eight years.

During that time, he played a key role in trying to end the Amtrack hostage incident that occurred in October 1982 when an Hispanic male shot his sister over drugs and refused to release her children, a nine-month old baby boy and four-year-old daughter. Authorities on the train had called ahead to the Raleigh Police Department to inform them of the situation. The Amtrack train sat at the station for three days while two six-man SWAT teams worked shifts during the three-day stand-off. At one point, Capucille and another officer were sent into the adjoining room of the train car to listen for any conversation. Capucille was facing the door, gun drawn while the other officer used a stethoscope to listen. Three shots were fired by the hostage-taker, one that sailed right between the two officers, hitting the wall behind them. They quickly exited the train car.

A solution of saline was put by the train door and the man was encouraged to feed it to the infant. He refused. On the third day, the man gave up, but it was too late to save the infant and the child died due to exposure. It was a moving experience for the officers on the SWAT team.

That was the first hostage case on a train, and the case was studied by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies as a training example.

Capucille had become an instructor in firearms, defense tactics, physical fitness and haz-mat, and was promoted to training officer at the Raleigh Police Academy. He spent two years in that position, while studying for his sergeants exam. He was successful, and was promoted and returned to the patrol, then to personnel and to crime prevention. In 2002, he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the Southeast Raleigh District, a difficult part of town.

Capucille retired from the Raleigh Police Department at the age of 55 and joined the State Capitol Police in 2007, starting as an officer and promoted to sergeant two years later.

Sgt. Philip Capucille brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and law enforcement expertise to the State Capitol Police,” said SCP Chief Scott Hunter. “His nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience with the Raleigh Police Department has proven to be an asset to our law enforcement and security operation. Sgt. Capucille is a valued member of the SCP management team.”

With his skill as a Raleigh PD sniper, Capucille is putting together a sniper unit for the State Capitol Police. He attended sniper training through the Justice Academy at the Firing Range in Butner. This training included shooting eggs that were hanging by a string from a piece of wood 100 yards away. Another test was to crawl with a weapon from the 200 yards line to the 100 yard mark and shoot at an egg swaying in the wind. The first time Capucille shot the dangling egg, he hit the mark.

Capucille said the State Capitol Police is completely different from working with a traditional law enforcement agency that is call-driven and numbers mean everything.

“The State Capitol Police goals are different. Our mission is the protection and safety of facilities and those who come to those facilities,” Capucille said. “In 2001, after 9/11, Chief Hunter put an officer in every state building and calls for service dropped by 70 percent, just from the presence of the officer.”

Last year, the State Capitol Police responded to nearly 8,000 calls for service, where an officer conducted an investigation and a report was filed. “Because things are so volatile right now with the economy, if the State Capitol Police removed their personnel from the current State facilities manned, multiple that 8,000 by 70 percent, and that's how much the number of calls for service would increase without the State Capitol Police presence,” said Capucille. “You can't trade off with these statistics.”

Capucille has brought his knowledge of community policing to the State Capitol Police job. He said, “At my age, sixty years old, I have learned to reason with people and take every advantage afforded to me, rather than start out being physical like the younger officers might do.”

Capucille now oversees 12 security guards, seven assigned to the Revenue building, three at the Museum of Natural Sciences, one at the Division of Archives and History and one at the Education building. Two of the sites are manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because they are short-staffed, Capucille will fill in to cover for those who are out on sick leave or on vacation.

Capucille likes to travel and he and his wife visit her native country, Germany from time to time. They have also traveled to Italy, Austria, Ireland, and Mexico. At home, in addition to being with his family, he enjoys vegetable gardening and riding motorcycles. He rides “uncaged” nearly every Saturday with the Motorcycle Chapter - Star Touring Group - on their “Just ‘cause” ride.

# # #