Snapshot: Matt Wood
Occupation: I have been with the Newtown Police Department since 2004, and I have been a patrol sergeant since 2014. I always had an inclination I wanted to go into law enforcement. It seemed like an exciting and interesting career choice.
I run the police department’s Citizen Police Academy each year. It’s a ten-week program that shows different aspects of law enforcement to give people a better idea of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. We’ve had residents, business owners, people from surrounding towns, and younger kids interested in law enforcement be part of it. We make it specific to Newtown and small-town policing.
In line with running the Citizen Police Academy, I oversee our Community Services Division. As part of our Community Services, we help Toys For Tots and Special Olympics. We have a Penguin Plunge coming up in April, and we do the Torch Run usually a Friday in June. At the Torch Run, the Unified Sports team meets us at St Rose to run the last section with us.
I’m also a motor vehicle stops instructor for the state, an impaired driving instructor for the state, and a drug recognition instructor for the state since 2012. I teach several times a year. It’s fun because it gives you something different to do in this career.
Family: I have two teenage daughters. They’re good kids.
Pets: We have lots of pets — cats, a dog, fish, and rabbits. We whittled it down. We no longer have hamsters and Guinea pigs.
What do you like to do in your free time? I am a runner and I like to mountain bike. I’ve biked all over the country.
What is your favorite travel destination? I like being by the ocean. Rhode Island is nice.
What is the best part about Newtown? The people are pretty friendly here. We have a different frame of reference of town, but as a whole most people support us.
If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? My grandfather. He was a World War II vet. He passed away when I was 12 years old. I knew him fairly well, but I wasn’t old enough to fully comprehend what he had done in his life.
What is your favorite musical genre? I like a lot of different genres of music, but if I had to pick one, it would be bluegrass.
What is your favorite food? Sushi.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? Career wise, it’s “don’t take anything personally.” In my line of work, that is probably the best piece of advice you can be given. You hear it all the time, but it takes a few years for that to really sink in.
What is something you cannot live without? My mountain bike. I’ve been biking since 1991 fairly consistently. I briefly thought about doing it professionally, but I didn’t want to take the fun out of riding.
What advice would you give to your younger self? “Be more prepared.” Prior to starting my job at the Newtown Police Department, I worked for seven years with an outdoor adventure company. I traveled all over the country for it and it was super fun, but it didn’t set me up for life long term. But it was fun.
What is your proudest accomplishment? My kids.