After all they'd been through and done for the community, Newtown's finest deserved a break.
That's the thought behind the decision to put police officers from surrounding towns on the ground so officers at the Newtown Police Department could spend time with their families over Christmas. Neighboring towns — including Brookfield, Redding, Bethel, Stratford and Wilton — sent officers to cover shifts, starting as early as the day after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and building to about 30 officers per shift, per day, over the holidays.
Officers got a break thanks to some detailed coordination from multiple departments. In Brookfield, Capt. John Puglisi said he got the assignment and was sent in to pitch in and help. His job was handling the logistics of organizing volunteers from multiple police departments — "Just about every department in the state," he said.
Officers didn't just cover patrols, Puglisi said — they doubled up with Newtown officers to provide services like motorcycle escorts for funerals.
"A normal shift is an eight-hour day, but on Christmas they broke it up into four-hour blocks so more officers would get a little bit less infringement on the other officers," said Puglisi. Still, with so many officers eager to volunteer, "there were more than enough to fill all shifts," he said.
In Bethel, Chief Jeffrey Finch said the sign-up sheet came into headquarters from the Emergency Operations Center and officers had the chance to volunteer.
"People were signing up for different shifts — mostly four to eight hours," he said.
"When something happens to a brother officer everybody rallies," said Lt. Brian McCauley of the Monroe Police Department. "All the towns came together... These guys have been through some long and taxing hours and we're just trying to take up the slack."
As of midnight after Christmas day, Puglisi said, they'd turned the department back over to Newtown police officers.
"Their guys are back at work," he said.
Officials at Newtown Police Department were not available to comment for this story.