Police Dept Establishes New Community Services Division, Retools Traffic Unit
Following the departure of former Police Chief James Viadero last November and the promotion of former Newtown Police Captain David Kullgren, there has been a lot of activity at the Newtown Police Department around filling in a number of positions to get the department back to full strength and full staff.
The last pieces of that puzzle have been put in place with the promotions of two new sergeants, one of whom will head up the newly started Community Services Division.
At a promotion ceremony for Sgt Adam James, who will be a supervisor of the patrol division, and Sgt William Chapman, it was announced that Chapman will be head of that Community Services unit.
Chapman has been a member of the Newtown Police Department for 14 years and the school resource officer at Newtown Middle School for seven. Chapman said that he was “always excited” to deal with the kids in town and that they are the backbone of the community, which is why he chose to invest his time with the department to them.
As the Community Services Division head, Chapman won’t be stepping away from the schools entirely, as his department is intended to help “create time and space for officers to be more invested in the community.”
In the past, while a number of officers have taken initiative with community projects, such as Officer MaryHelen McCarthy with Senior Services, Officer Felicia Figot with Cadet training and Sgt Matthew Wood taking charge of the Citizen’s Police Academy, it was often difficult for officers to devote time to those duties as their duties to the patrol division took priority.
The Community Services Division will change that. Youth Services will fall under the umbrella of the Community Services Division and Chapman will still be able to be involved with the schools, with the faculty, staff and students.
“I won’t have to step aside on the parts of my job I love the most,” said Chapman. “I won’t have to step away from the people who have become my family over the past seven years.”
Kullgren said he was “excited to announce the creation of our new Community Services Division to better serve the community.”
“Our staff believe that nurturing a solid relationship with our community members breeds great relationships where we work together to solve problems and improve the quality of life for all,” said Kullgren.
In June of 2022, Chief Kullgren gained support of the Police Commission to create the new unit.
This division will have the responsibility of focusing on all social and community engagement activities to include School Resource Officers, traffic concerns and event planning. Having a dedicated conduit to the community will increase the two-way communication capabilities and ensure consistency when working with our community partners.
“Officer Chapman’s professionalism and compassion has been crucial in our schools over the past seven years as an SRO,” said Kullgren. “I would like to reassure our community that Sgt Chapman and his team will continue to support our BOE partners, parents and students. Sgt Chapman will now train all of our SROs and ensure they continue to provide the great resources he has offered the community over the years.”
Kullgren said that Chapman has “no shoes to fill,” and the department is “all him” and his vision for the division.
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said the Community Services Division was a “great idea.”
“There’s no question the community will benefit,” said Rosenthal. “Knowing Will, this role was scripted for him.”
Police Commissioner Neil Chaudhary said a Community Services Division was “one of those things you wonder why we didn’t always have one.”
“Connecting with the community is so important,” said Chaudhary. “Will is perfect for this job.”
Rosenthal said that there have been a lot of changes at the PD since Viadero’s departure, which were “all good.”
“It’s a pleasure knowing Adam and Will are stepping up,” said Rosenthal. “There are a lot of officers in the department worthy of promotion. The decision is never easy, but I think they got these decisions right.”
Kullgren said Adam James has been the department’s “patrol guy.”
“He gets out there and does consistent enforcement, making arrests and making things happen,” said Kullgren. “He’s young and motivated.”
James said he was looking forward to his new position and the “next step” in his career.
Regarding the newly re-activated Traffic unit, Kullgren told The Newtown Bee, “This transition will allow for peak period traffic enforcement utilizing two SROs, the Community Services sergeant and the Traffic Unit coordinator.”
“This will give the department greater versatility and flexibility when it comes to traffic calming measures and enforcement,” Kullgren added.
Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.