Mark Cappelli and Sam Boccuzzi spend their time trying to dispel the notion many kids have that cops are the bad guys. As detectives in the Darien Police Department's Youth Division , they work closely with students at the Depot and at Darien High School.
"The challenge is to get kids to see that cops are normal people. This may be our job, but we had lives before we were police officers," Cappelli said.
Boccuzzi agreed. "We want them to understand that every law is created to keep people safe and protect their property," he said. Boccuzzi said they are successful in conveying their message to kids. But he said it can be tough to measure that success because it's impossible to know how many kids they are deterring from breaking laws.
They accomplish their goals by spending time with kids and talking to them about the law. The two go regularly to the Depot for Cop Shop, where they discuss any issues the kids want to talk about.
Cappelli said the Cop Shop will sometimes be filled with 30 to 40 kids, asking questions about stories they heard after parties. "You deal a lot with the rumor mill," he said. The officers always set the story straight and make sure kids know the laws and consequences. "We have to de-myth what they hear. We also always hear a lot of 'what ifs.'"
They have a couple other events lined up to help kids understand law enforcement, including "CSI: Darien," in which they will offer education on forensics, search and seizure, and traffic laws. They will also take 20 kids to Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown for a presentation by inmates called "If I Knew Then What I Know Now."
Boccuzzi has been a police officer for 23 years, the last four-and-a-half in the Youth Division. Cappelli is in his 15th year, joining the Youth Division three-and-a-half years ago. When asked why they applied for the positions, they had the same answer: "We just really like working with kids."
Have your kids had a chance to meet and talk with Detective Boccuzzi and Detective Cappelli? What have their experiences with the Darien Police Department been like? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook .
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