The New Milford Knights of Columbus hosted their annual ceremony Friday recognizing the contributions of select members of the community.
The Knights presented police officers Keith Wester and Bill Wilde with certificates of merit for their work as School Resource Officers (SRO) in the New Milford School District. Wester is assigned to David E. Owens Middle School where he has coached basketball. He also heads the Junior Police Academy. Wilde is assigned to New Milford High School where he is also the head football coach.
According to New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro, SRO's are the front line against incidents such as school shootings like the one that occurred in Columbine.
"They develop relationships with their students and are often a source of their confidences," Papapietro said. "Because they know their student population so well they have a sixth sense when there is trouble in a student’s life or when there is trouble brewing in the school."
Papapietro added, "Their relationships extend beyond the students to the parents, PTO, school administration and civic organizations."
"This helps them to keep their finger on the pulse of not only the schools, but the entire community."
As SRO's, Papapietro said that Wester and Wilde receive continuing training and education in such areas as:
- Gang intervention/recognition
- Narcotic laws
- Juvenile law updates
- Attend SNAP conferences with school officials
- Bullying conferences
- Assist with lockdown/active shooter drills
Papapietro also said that when the Detectives or patrol officers need help with a case involving juveniles the SRO’s are their first call.
Also honored by the Knights of Columbus were Fire Chief James Tufaro and firefighter Bob McGrath.
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