NEWINGTON - It’s no coincidence that police can be found working right alongside park staff at the town’s biggest annual events. The Newington Police Department has close ties with Newington’s Parks and Recreation Department, which is planning to honor those who protect and serve at an upcoming community breakfast.
The second annual Police Appreciation Breakfast is set for Tuesday, May 16, from 8 to 10 a.m. in the Mortensen Community Center, 131 Cedar St.
Parks staff will be doing all the cooking, and there will be pancakes, pastries, coffee and more. The event is free and open to the public.
Residents are encouraged to attend for a chance to meet parks staff and police officers.
For the employees themselves, it will be an opportunity to socialize outside of their typical workday. Parks Director Bill DeMaio first organized the gathering last year to strengthen the working relationship between the departments.
“I thought it would be appropriate for us to meet the police and recognize them for doing a great job,” he said. “Now this being the second year we can meet new staff and re-forge the connection with them.”
Those friendly introductions may come in handy later on - when they are working side by side at the Newington Extravaganza July 15, for example. Officers will also be helping facilitate the department’s Motorcycle Madness, May 18 and Touch-a-Truck, June 17.
“We work with them in many, many instances,” DeMaio pointed out. “At all the big special events we do they’re either in the background helping us, directing traffic or providing security. It makes for very safe programs and allows us to do our job, make people happy and recreate.”
He and Police Chief Stephen Clark both took over leadership of their respective departments in July 2016. As fellow Newington natives, they’ve walked a lot of shared ground in the community.
“Bill and I share a common interest in doing what’s best for the town and providing the best services possible,” Clark said last week. “Our roots are here in town and we often talk about how great it was going up in town as kids. I think we use those experiences as motivation to keep the community engaged and improve the quality of life for all the residents.”
The departments are collaborating to host “America’s Night Out Against Crime” on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Held in conjunction with other National Nights Out across the country, the event will build upon the police-community partnership while demonstrating to criminals that neighborhoods are organized against crime.
Newington police are also preparing to begin their week-long Youth Academy June 26-30. A free program for students ages 15-18 interested in pursuing law enforcement careers, the academy is taught by local officers. There are still a few spots open, and applications are available in the police department’s lobby or in the office of the school resource officer at Newington High School.
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.