Growing up in a family of five children, New Milford policeman Mark Buckley recalls his father, Miles, preaching good things come to those who work hard and show dedication to what they do.

"Obviously, he was right," said Deputy Chief Buckley, who on Sept. 29 was promoted from captain in the department, his third promotion in the last year.

Though his now-deceased father didn't get to see him earn his gold star, Deputy Chief Buckley, 45, got to share what to date is the pinnacle of his 21.5-year law enforcement career with other family members, including youngest brother, Patrick, a police sergeant in Farmington, and wife, Leanne, a local music teacher.

"It's been a proud year," said the smiling New Milford policeman, who this week embarked on a prestigious, 10-week leadership session for 250 police executives at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Deputy Chief Buckley has played key roles in the department's transition from the retirement of 29-year department veteran Colin McCormack and his command staff to the new administration under Chief Shawn Boyne, a retired state police commander hired a year ago October.

Chief Boyne was left to create a new administrative team and Deputy Chief Buckley has been, from the beginning, his second-in-command.

Chief Boyne has also promoted two veteran sergeants to lieutenants, William Scribner and Larry Ash, and four officers have been promoted to sergeant: Brian Glasser, James Dzamko, Edward Hannan and Carla Tencza.

Deputy Chief Buckley's colleagues suggest this promotion reflects the duties he has undertaken and is a reward for his daily diligence to a job he performs with honesty and integrity.

"Since my appointment, it has been my goal and vision to advance this agency in every way, and most importantly, from within," Chief Boyne said in an invitation to fellow police offers to Buckley's promotion ceremony.

"You all have known Mark for the majority of your careers," added the chief, "and I am confident you recognize this as well deserved as I do."

Lt. Larry Ash, the department spokesman, described Deputy Chief Buckley as a supervisor admired and respected by everyone from chief to rank-and-file because of his professionalism.

"For him to ascend to this position seems natural," Lt. Ash said. "You couldn't find anyone more qualified for this job. The town is fortunate to have him in that position."

For Deputy Chief Buckley, the new post is not only an honor but a responsibility to go from the "future" of the department to a leader of the department's future.

He said he and Chief Boyne share the belief that everyone in the department, from rookie police officer to secretary, has a stake in the mission. The department is a "we," not an "I," the new deputy chief said.

"It's exciting," Deputy Chief Buckley said of this time in the department's history. "I love coming to work every day.