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Press Release

Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office Celebrates Community Policing Awards

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

New Haven – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut hosted a Community Policing Awards Ceremony this afternoon that recognized 15 law enforcement officers and community members from cities and towns across the state.

“Today we honor the very best in community policing in Connecticut,” said U.S. Attorney John H. Durham.  “These deserving law enforcement officers understand that community policing is an effective way to prevent crime, solve neighborhood problems and keep our cities and towns safe and secure.  They know that it is critically important to engage with members of the community in positive, friendly and constructive ways, long before a call for service.  My sincere congratulations to each of these award recipients.  I thank them for their invaluable work, which continues to strengthen the communities they serve.

Below is a list of the award winners and the nominations submitted on their behalf.  Photos of today’s ceremony are available on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Facebook page.

Clinton Police Department
Chief Vincent DeMaio

Chief of Police Vincent DeMaio, nominated by the Clinton Board of Police Commissioners, has implemented multiple programs geared toward improving relations with the Clinton community while operating within a budget five percent below the previous year.

The Chief reintroduced the DARE program to the elementary and middle school to rave reviews by teachers and parents.  The revamped program focuses on decision-making strategies and awareness.

All Clinton officers have been trained and equipped to administer Narcan to combat opioid overdoses. To date, Narcan has been administered on 15 calls with three being life-saving.

The Child Safety Seat Installation Program is staffed by personnel trained and certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA) in proper child safety seat installation.  The program has installed 100 seats and donated 20 to those unable to afford new car seats. Our trained officers visited the Day Care Centers in Clinton and held seminars to educate the parents on proper use.  This approach reached more people as it removed any fear of going to the police station.  It brought officers closer to the community they live and care about and left a positive message.

Additionally, the Chief has implemented the “R.A.D. Rape & Aggression Defense” program and a redesigned K9 program.  He has engaged the department in multiple social media platforms, created the Shoreline Technical Crimes Investigative Group and implemented the Lethality Assessment program.

The Clinton Police Department continuously looks for ways to educate the public on crime prevention and awareness of public safety hazards, frequently partnering with the school system and other community groups to make public service announcements or host presentations to help make the community safer.  One of the more recent successes was hosting the “Chasing the Dragon” program to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic facing our State and the Nation.

Lastly, Chief DeMaio hosts a monthly radio program on ICRV radio called “SCAM PATROL” which alerts citizens to many scams, frauds and other types of cyber-crime and how to protect themselves and their identities.

Connecticut State Police
Trooper First Class Dawn Taylor

TFC Taylor has approximately 13 years of service with the Connecticut State Police.  She has served as a Patrol Trooper, Academy Instructor, Resident Trooper and Narcotics K9 Handler.  Currently, she is the Resident Trooper in Deep River where she has an excellent reputation within the community.

TFC Taylor is involved in many events and activities in the Deep River and Troop F area.  She is actively involved with Regional School District #4 (Deep River, Essex and Chester).  She regularly visits the schools at bus drop-off and pick-up times and often walks the halls speaking with the students.  TFC Taylor supports the DARE program, conducts K9 demonstrations, attends school events and sporting games.  TFC Taylor is actively involved with many “Tri-Town” area groups to include the “Safety Awareness Committee,” “Youth & Family Coalition,” and “Juvenile Review Board.”  She also teaches a “Drug Endangered Children” (DEC) class at the Academy to new police recruits.

TFC Taylor is very involved with community events, which include the annual Deep River Muster weekend and several other parades and road races.  TFC Taylor’s positive and energized attitude about community policing make her “stand out” among her peers.

Connecticut State Police
Sergeant James T. Scott

Sergeant James Scott champions community policing efforts of the Connecticut State Police from the non-traditional role of supervisor for Recruitment and Selections. Sergeant Scott recognizes where normal recruiting suffers, and employs active recruiting efforts where building trust and community are needed.

In October 2016, noting the need and decline in diverse police applicants nationwide, Sergeant Scott actively sought to build diversity in not only CSP recruitment, but also with state and regional law enforcement.  The efforts in the spirit of building trust and legitimacy between police and the communities they serve begin with creating a workforce that is diverse.  In a recruitment cycle that began post-Ferguson and post-Dallas, it was expected that CSP recruitment might also follow the nationwide trend of fewer applicants, both minority and otherwise.  Sergeant Scott was also facing a recruitment cycle with no budget for recruitment efforts.

Despite these obstacles, Sergeant Scott used outside the box thinking to attract the most sought after candidates. This includes his collaboration with Central Connecticut State University’s Communications Department, where students produced two recruitment videos: one highlighting the multi-dimensional aspects of the duties of the State Police (known as the Action video); and a five-member impactful testimonial video highlighting minority and female troopers, who spoke about the State Police career, both in uniform and plain clothes (known as the Impact Testimonial video). The “Action” video was released upon announcement of the test and ran for three weeks. The “Testimonial” video was released with one week remaining during the application period, specifically designed to target minority and women applicants. He also utilized social media to an extent never before used by CSP in recruitment efforts, in a calculated attempt to reach younger candidates who may not have otherwise engaged with the CSP.

While the results of this campaign were expected to be noticeably lower than previous testing cycles due to recent events and trends (Ferguson, Dallas, etc.), the final numbers recorded for the 2017 recruitment cycle surprisingly were comparable to the 2014 efforts, with a near equal number of overall candidates. More importantly, the majority of individual minority demographic groups rose exponentially, to include a rise in applicants who identified as Hispanic males; African American and Hispanic females; and Asian, Native American and Pacific Islander applicants, each specifically registering as all-time highs (DAS, 2017).

In addition, Sgt. Scott continues to assist in other CSP initiatives through the year. This includes The Albertus Magnus Criminal Justice Camp, where he has assisted with coordinating the camp since its inception. This camp has been hosted free of charge for nine consecutive years, and over 1,000 students have registered to attend.  He also coordinates the annual Battle of the Badges, where he has partnered with Yale University Police Department and organized a bench press fundraiser for the last eight years. Over $5000 has been donated to Smilow Cancer Center as a result. Finally, Sgt. Scott serves in a volunteer leadership capacity for the Tunxis Community College Foundation, where in addition to serving on the board, he personally funds a criminal justice scholarship.

Connecticut State Police
Trooper Katharine Cummings

Trooper Kate Cummings is at the forefront of the Connecticut State Police community policing efforts as the Statewide D.A.R.E. Coordinator.  Although her title is the Statewide D.A.R.E. Coordinator for the Connecticut State Police, the role in which she has served over the course of the past year has evolved to include many aspects of the Juvenile Justice System, current adolescent trends, and the School Resource Officer Programs.  The highlights in community policing that she has accomplished during the 2017-2018 School Year include:

As the Statewide D.A.R.E. Coordinator, she serves as the D.A.R.E. Instructor in communities that do not have a certified D.A.R.E. Officer, a Police Department, or a Resident Trooper Program.  D.A.R.E. is a 10-week program of 45 minute sessions that cover the following topics:  responsibilities, risks, consequences, peer pressure, resistance strategies, and coping skills, bullying/cyber bullying reporting, being a good citizen, and health effects of alcohol and tobacco use.  She has taught 38 complete 10-week D.A.R.E. Programs during the last school year on her own.  In addition to the traditional D.A.R.E. Program, Trooper Cummings sits on the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Oversight and Policy Committee as the Connecticut State Police representative.  This year, the committee drafted a report for the Connecticut Legislature on ways to reduce the number of school-based arrests in the State of Connecticut.  Trooper Cummings is also bilingual as she is fluent in Spanish.  She is able to teach and present in schools where the students are best served by learning important skills and getting information in Spanish. This is illustrated by her presentation in Spanish at Hanover Elementary School in Meriden for their 5th Grade Career Day.

She also serves as one of the Connecticut State Police Social Media Liaisons through the Public Information Officer, and she moderates a public Instagram page, @CT_Dare_Trooper, which has nearly 6,000 followers from around the world.  The page is used to connect with communities to highlight the incredible work of Connecticut's students, showcase the many roles of Connecticut State Troopers, increase our partnerships with local Police Departments and non-profit agencies, provide safety information, and most importantly, serve as a positive social media role model for adolescents.  By using this medium, she connects with a younger generation in a variety of ways and demonstrates how we, as a society, can use social media in a positive, healthy way.

Over the past three years, Trooper Cummings developed internet safety and social media presentations for middle school students, high school students, college students, and a parent presentation, which covers social media trends and ways we can use social media safely and positively. 

Trooper Katharine Cummings has been a significant presence and a key component of the Community Policing effort for the Connecticut State Police.  Her interpersonal talent and bilingual ability gives her the skills to connect with children, teens and adults no matter the venue or issue.  She has provided a template for a multitude of law enforcement officers throughout the State of Connecticut by virtue of her willingness to connect with people no matter who they are and what their needs may be. 

East Hartford Police Department
Lieutenant Joshua Litwin

Lieutenant Josh Litwin has worked with the East Hartford Police Department since 2002 and has served as a Firearms Instructor, Field Training Officer and as an Investigator in the Detective Division.  In his current assignment as the Chief Executive Officer, Lieutenant Litwin has been instrumental in reviving the Community Service Officer program.  In this capacity, Lieutenant Litwin has hosted many community outreach events such as Block Watch Meetings, Toy Drives, and Sandwich with a Cop and Coffee with a Cop events.  He has also been the driving force behind the East Hartford Police Department’s involvement in the National Night Out event.  National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.  National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community.  Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.  Over the last two years, this event has brought hundreds of families throughout the community to the police department to share stories, see demonstrations and have a fun family night out.

Lieutenant Litwin has also participated in a variety of other programs that reach out to local religious and faith based organizations, and he helps to organize and present at the Department’s Citizen Police Academy.  Lieutenant Litwin’s tireless dedication to these community based programs is evident and he continues to look for new ways each year for his Department to create a partnership and improve the quality of life for the community he serves.

Enfield Police Department
Officer Eddie G. Nuno

Officer Eddie Nuno is a 25-year veteran of the Enfield Police Department.  (He undertook service with this agency after a period of service with the United States Coast Guard.)  Over the course of his Enfield Police Department career, Officer Nuno has worked in a variety of capacities, but apparent throughout his tenure has been a true dedication to the concept of community policing.

Officer Nuno serves as the Enfield Police Department’s representative to the town’s Juvenile Review Board, and also serves as the department’s liaison to the Enfield Youth Services Agency.  It is fair to say that he uses his bilingual language skills to serve as the department’s liaison to the town’s Hispanic community.  He is well known, particularly in the Thompsonville section of town, for his regular community interactions, stopping to visit with community youth, joining assorted sports games while they are “in progress,” meeting with landlord associations, and helping businesses do everything possible to succeed.  Enfield is also very fortunate in that Officer Nuno serves as a Field Training Officer, placing him in a position to pass on the skills and positive mindset that he possesses to the next generation of Enfield Police Officers.

Officer Nuno is among the most conscientious and committed of officers. His ability to maintain this demeanor after 25 years of service is indicative of just how deeply he believes in the policing mission.

Town of Groton Department
Officer Richard Savino

Officer Richard Savino is assigned as the Town of Groton Community Policing Officer (CPO) in which position he has been organizing and participating in multiple community events since his appointment.  These efforts have not only raised money for charitable causes, but have bridged the gap between law enforcement and the community he serves and protects.  Officer Savino has been an organizer, participant and supporter in all of the following events, prior to and during his official assignment as the CPO:

“Cop on Top,” where officers spent the night on top of a local car dealership in freezing cold temperatures to raise money for Special Olympics; “Law Enforcement Torch Run,” where officers from around the region run for miles in their communities with the Special Olympics Torch, raising money and awareness for Special Olympics; “Penguin Plunge,” where officers and members of the community dive into freezing ocean waters raising money and awareness for the Special Olympics; “Tip a Cop,” where officers wait on tables at a local restaurant raising money and awareness for Special Olympics; “Coffee With a Cop,” where law enforcement officers visit a local coffee shop encouraging community members to join them in conversation over a cup of coffee; “Bumpers ‘N Books,” where law enforcement and local residents decorate the trunks and bumpers of their vehicles in various popular children’s book themes; bringing the community together while encouraging children to read and visit their local library; “MADD Car Show” where multiple classic car owners display their vehicles while supporting those who have been impacted by drunk or drugged driving, and “National Night Out”  where multiple local businesses, restaurants, law enforcement agencies, emergency medical personnel and health care related organizations gather with the community, eating food, playing games and participating in various events.

The initiatives undertaken by Officer Savino are great examples of what constitutes effective community policing.

In addition to the community policing programs, Officer Savino meets with victims of domestic violence in the community, diligently following up on their cases and assuring that they are getting all of the assistance they need.  Officer Savino has been working with local businesses and residents in dealing with noise complaint issues; understanding the needs and concerns of all parties involved. 

Officer Savino is an example to all and a true leader in his community. 

New Canaan Police Department
Officer Ron Bentley

Officer Ron Bentley has been a member of the New Canaan Police Department since 2005.

Following a brazen daytime violent robbery of a local jewelry store, the New Canaan business community was terrified that this type of crime might happen again.  It was at that time, the New Canaan Police Department decided to create the position of Community Impact Officer. Officer Bentley was appointed to that position and is responsible for the New Canaan business district.  He has built strong relationships with business owners and residents, and has created a sense of safety and community in the center of town.

Officer Bentley helped implement “Coffee with a Cop” to further foster positive relationships between police officers and the community.  He has helped to deter criminal activity, and overall has made the center of New Canaan a safer place to visit.

In addition to his work downtown, Officer Bentley has worked with the town’s youth through his role as baseball coach for the New Canaan High School Varsity Baseball Team and was a previous School Resource Officer at New Canaan High School.

New London Police Department
Sergeant Max Bertsch

Sergeant Max Bertsch has been with the New London Police Department since January 2006.  He has been assigned to the Patrol Division, the School Resource Officer Program and is a certified motorcycle officer.  Sergeant Bertsch is currently assigned to the Patrol Division as a Street Sergeant.

Sergeant Bertsch has organized the National Night Out program for the New London Police Department for the past eight years. This event links police and elementary school youth together in a fun atmosphere at Ocean Beach Park.  Each year the number of children attending and parents has increased, with over 500 in attendance this past August.  Sgt. Bertsch also served as the School Resource officer in New London prior to being promoted.  His devotion to the youth of the city has found him on numerous fishing trips with school-aged children on his own time.  As the SRO, he organized a school based program for high school aged children, similar to a citizens police academy, which continues to today. His efforts with the New London Schools has resulted in great strides being made in connecting youth to police and furthering the goals of Community Based Policing.

Norwalk Police Department
Officer Jean-Maxime Sixto

Born in Haiti, Jean-Maxime Sixto (“Max”) and his family moved to the United States in 1971, making a home in Norwalk.  He, like many other young adults from Norwalk, worked at Stew Leonard’s.  This is where Max honed his gift of conversation.  The Norwalk Police Department hired Max Sixto in January of 1997 and, in 1999, he was assigned to the Community Police Unit.  Officers in the unit worked out of the South Norwalk Train Station, patrolling and conducting outreach to specific areas of South Norwalk.

Officer Sixto was assigned to the Roodner Court Housing Complex.  At the time, Roodner Court was plagued with drug trafficking and violent crime.  The close relationships Max formed with many members of the Roodner Court community were invaluable in combating such crime. That is, many individuals living in Roodner Court had enough trust in Max that they were willing to share information about the rampant crime occurring in their community allowing the police to bring many of the offenders to justice.  The positive effect of Officer Sixto’s constant presence in Roodner Court and his incredibly warm personality were apparent the minute he entered the Housing Complex, whether by bicycle or on foot.  Today, Max cannot step foot in Roodner Court without a resident yelling, “Hey Sixto,” followed by a high-five or a hug.

In addition, Officer Sixto has worked with members of the Roodner Court community to beautify the complex with bright flower plantings.  This had a ripple effect within the complex, with residents pitching in to clean up and to even create two vegetable gardens within the complex.  Officer Sixto also spends a lot of time at the Roodner Court Learning Center, which provides afterschool education opportunities for the youth in Roodner Court.  Officer Sixto reads to the kids and is a positive role model for them.  He also spends time with the kids at Grass Roots Tennis and meets with the junior counselors to discuss leadership issues.  Officer Sixto recently noticed that a young resident of Roodner Court did not have a bicycle, and so he arranged to bring a donated bicycle to the little girl, bringing smiles to her face and to that of her grandmother.

In addition to his duties in Roodner Court, Officer Sixto is often called up to assist with other community outreach events such as Coffee with a Cop, NPD Ice Cream Day, Community Police Holiday Party, SoNo Alliance, Norwalk Open House and many more.

Max is a decorated officer receiving numerous awards and recognitions from not only the Norwalk Police Department, but from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office.  Officer Sixto has received numerous letters of appreciation from community members as well as recognition for Community Service from the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Officer Max Sixto is the definition of a Community Police Officer.  His hard work and dedication to the community are second to none.  He has spent his career working hard to make Norwalk a safer place while creating police-community partnerships.  

Stamford Police Department
Officer Silas Redd

Officer Silas Redd has over 30 years’ experience with the Stamford Police Department and his commitment to the City of Stamford has never wavered.  Over the past 30 years, Officer Redd has helped the police department create and sustain a strong relationship with the community.  This is what we now call “Community Policing.”  Officer Redd has always taken the initiative to foster those relationships long before it became a catch phrase.  It is who he is!

Officer Redd is currently assigned to the Stamford Police Department’s Youth Bureau where he coordinates the Truancy Initiative Program.  He is also a founding member of the Juvenile Review Board, a member of the Absentee Review Board, a founding member of the Community Oriented Policing Program, and a founding member of the Stamford Police Boys Leadership Group.  Officer Redd also conducts mediations between troubled youths and families.  Officer Redd even takes it a step further and works diligently to assist those youth and families in seeking services that will have a positive influence with the families. 

Officer Redd is an advocate for cultivating strong lines of communication between the community and police by working closely with and meeting with community leaders. This is achieved through forums at churches, schools and community events.  Officer Redd has built lasting friendships and partnerships within the community that enable him to remedy and effectively address a host of issues.  Moreover, Officer Redd has been very instrumental in mentoring youth and stressing the importance of education, being a positive influence and making good choices. Officer Redd also spends a great deal of time educating other Stamford officers as to what the community wants and expects from the police. 

Officer Redd has demonstrated an unrivaled passion in educating youth and guiding them in the right direction.  He continues to be an asset for the department, but more importantly the community.  Officer Redd is a credit to the Stamford Police Department and his commitment to Stamford should be emulated by all. 

University of Connecticut Police Department
Officer Justin Cheney

Officer Justin Cheney joined the University of Connecticut Police Department in June of 2015 and immediately began a focus on community oriented policing work.  A long-standing member of the community and alumnus of UConn, Justin quickly became a friendly and recognizable member of the patrol operations section and exemplified the best tenets of community partnership and problem solving.  In 2016, he became a member of the UConn PD Safety Techniques and Awareness Resource Team, the unit of officers that provide educational programming and events across the community.  As a member of the S.T.A.R.T., he provides ongoing instruction and facilitation to the UConn and surrounding community in the areas of self-defense, general safety, primary prevention education to reduce sexual violence, team building and communication workshops, and more.  In the summer of 2017, Justin joined the Community Outreach Unit to engage in community education on a full-time basis.

Justin’s enthusiasm and innovative approach to community policing strategies helped him to propose a dynamic new program in the spring of 2018.  After considerable research in the area, he launched the UCPD Community Outreach Dog program.  With the generous support and assistance of Canine Companions for Independence, Justin was partnered with Tildy, a facility dog.  Tildy, a two-year-old yellow lab and golden retriever mix, was trained by CCI as a facility dog and Justin was matched and trained with her at CCl’s Northeast Training Center in April of 2018.

Tildy and Justin now spend their days engaging with the community in person and through Tildy’s increasingly popular lnstagram page where Justin has masterfully captured Tildy’s “voice” as a means to connect with people.  Justin and Tildy act as the police department’s outreach ambassadors and have promoted creative new ways to build bridges to the community.  Tildy can also act in a limited supportive role to victims of violent crime if her skills would assist in building comfort with the investigative process for the community.  Officer Cheney and Tildy are on lnstagram (uconnpd_officertildy) and have over 900 followers.  Tildy is absolutely adorable and a hit with our community. (They like Justin too!)

On a daily basis, Officer Justin Cheney has been an example of the best community oriented policing strategies in our profession and his innovative approach to the Community Outreach Dog program has opened doors in an unprecedented way.

University of New Haven Police Department
Sergeant Luis Dos Santos

Since joining the University of New Haven Police Department, after a long career at Western Connecticut State University, Sergeant Luis Dos Santos has become an integral part of the University community.  He has shown leadership and initiative in handling traditional police duties and excelled in community outreach.  He regularly volunteers to spearhead new outreach initiatives.  The UNHPD’s primary community policing vehicle is its Residence Hall Officer (RHO) program.  Each officer is assigned as a liaison to a Residence Hall, provides regular interaction with the students and staff, provides support to residence assistants, follows up on police incidents and provides educational programs for residents. Sgt. Dos Santos regularly attends Hall staff meetings, provides educational programs to residents such as “Think before you Drink” and proper behavior at off campus parties.  He assists other officers in presenting career development programs to our public safety discipline students, who are a significant proportion of the student body.  He also assists officers in presenting student safety and self-defense programs.  Some of the outreach programs that he has personally initiated or spearheaded are:

“Drunk Sundaes,” where students don “drunk goggles” and operate a controlled golf cart ride to truly appreciate how impaired driving can affect one’s judgement; “ARC Dream Orientation” for special needs students, and “Do NUT Drink and Drive,” a Public Safety Block Party to kick off National Campus Safety Month.

As a supervisor, Sgt. Dos Santos, provides guidance and assistance to other officers with community outreach programs.  As both a supervisor and officer, he diligently follows up on all incidents within his areas of responsibility.  His interventions and educational talks have mitigated many small problems before they became major issues.  His reputation for thoroughness and commitment to the community is well known throughout the University and the city of West Haven.

In short, Sgt. Dos Santos has become an overall role model and mentor for the University’s student population.

Waterbury Police Department
Sergeant Ryan Bessette
Lisa Velez

Sergeant Ryan Bessette serves as Officer in Charge of the Community Relations Division at the Waterbury Police Department.  This division encompasses various agencies including the Neighborhood Police Officers, Mounted Unit Officers, Police Activities League (PAL) and a civilian Blight Control Team.  This collaborative approach focuses on reaching out to 23 active neighborhood associations, addressing quality of life-related issues, building and fostering relationships with the community and providing mentorship/positive programs for Waterbury youths.  Sergeant Bessette works tirelessly with a team of dedicated officers and civilian personnel to serve the needs of the community and educate residents, all while preventing and solving crimes.

Lisa Velez, President of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Association, has also served as President of the Waterbury Neighborhood Council, which consists of various active neighborhood associations.  She has created a dedicated working relationship with Sergeant Bessette and the entire Community Relations Division.  Lisa has been a longtime advocate of community oriented policing and served to facilitate community engagement.  Importantly, she continues to help strengthen the relationship between the Neighborhood Council and the Waterbury Police Department.

Updated October 30, 2018