By SHERIDAN CYR
Once per month, the Town Council has been inviting different departments in town to give a presentation to the council, providing insight to the department’s daily endeavors and its place in the community. On April 16, the council welcomed the Southington Police Department and gave them the floor.
Police Chief Jack Daly, accompanied by Lt. Steve Elliot, highlighted the work of the department he oversees.
“We are a full-service police department, and we’re pretty proud of that,” Daly said. “When people call, we’re there.”
Daly said SPD responds to nontraditional calls, such as parking lot accidents and car lockouts. He said many other police departments have backed away from calls like these.
The chief then shared what he said is a “tough process” of becoming a police officer. It includes a validated entry test done by the state, an oral interview, a background investigation, a polygraph test, a psychological examination, a drug screening, a full physical examination, 23 weeks at the Police Academy in Meriden, 10 additional weeks of training at SPD, and finally, certification. At that point, a new officer will be employed on a probationary period of two years.
Even after all of the initial training, officers are required to take several recurring training courses to stay updated on procedures and information. For example, officers must complete a 60-hour training cycle every three years that includes: firearms, sexual assault crisis, domestic violence, human relations, handling juveniles, police laws, patrol procedures, gang violence, effective training, and bigotry and bias.
There are 68 sworn full-time police officers and seven sworn supernumerary police officers at SPD.
“Seventy-two percent of our officers are also Southington residents,” Daly said. “I think that’s important—that they are part of the community and involved.”
Also in the SPD are 12 full-time dispatchers, two substitute dispatchers, and two animal control officers, along with four civilian records personnel, one civilian court employee, one administrative assistant and one custodian. The department also had three K-9 units trained in drug tracking and control techniques.
Daly touched on some department highlights. The department conducts 32 crime prevention programs, such as the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program and a School Resource Officer at the schools. They also are involved in community relation programs, such as STEPS (Southington Town-wide Effort to Promote Success).
He also made a point to highlight the SPD drop-box located right in the entrance to the department facility. The drop-box exists so residents can quickly and anonymously drop off unused medications to be safely disposed of with no questions asked. To date, the department has collected and disposed of 6,060 lbs of drop-box dispenses.
Council chair Chris Palmieri thanked Daly for the presentation.
“A lot of times you hear about police being reactionary,” he said. “It’s great to see how proactive you really are.”
Minority chair Victoria Triano said Southington is blessed to have such a strong police chief. “[Chief Daly] has produced such a standard in Southington, and has such respect around the whole state,” she said.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.