By MIKE CHAIKEN
A crowd gathered at Nuchie’s last Monday to salute the Bristol Exchange Club’s newest Police Officer of the Year, Pete Sassu.
Also honored Monday were Bristol Police Explorer Scouts of the Year Alexandra McMahon and Justin Seamour.
In a press release, the club explained Sassu, who works as school resource officer at Bristol Eastern High School, “was selected for what the department calls his ‘quiet heroism’ in his work every day… Sassu isn’t saving lives by running through alleyways, chasing down the bad guys and participating in shootouts as police heroes are often depicted in television and ?lm. Rather, he saves lives every day by participating fully in the lives of students,” according to a commendation document from the police department.’
The club said in its release, “Sassu has positively impacted the lives of thousands of city students since he began work at BEHS in 2007, the department says. ‘Officer Sassu has saved lives by being the one adult in some of the students’ lives in whom they could confide about their problems. He has saved lives by being the one person who has heard their cries for help when they wanted to harm themselves or when they were being abused by people in their own homes. Officer Sassu has saved lives by ensuring students have not gone hungry.’”
In his speech at Nuchie’s, Sassu, an alumni of Bristol Eastern, said, “For the last seven years, I have been honored to be the school resource officer at my alma mater – a job that defines community policing. Schools need to be safe but they also need to be welcoming and that is the environment we have built. For the kids that think they are invisible are shown that they are not. To the kids who need a fist pump in the hallway or a shoulder to lean on… To the more serious cases of kids in crisis or those who are hungry, school can either be a terrifying place. Or a safe haven.
“Working with the kids is rewarding and humbling,” said Sassu in his prepared speech.
“It can be a tough job. It is different every day. Some days it is frustrating. Other days you can pinpoint the exact moment when you have made an impact with someone,” said Sassu.
In a letter of recommendation for the award, Bristol Eastern’s principal Carly Fortin said, “I have no doubt that Officer Sassu has saved the lives of countless students by ensuring that these students received the help and care that needed through hospitals or social services.”
Fortin said, “One of the characteristics I most appreciate about Officer Sassu is his generosity. I have countless stories from students about how he has provided them with what they might have needed most at a particular time.”
A letter of thanks was sent by a parent to Sassu’s chief, Thomas Grimaldi, sharing an incident involving Sassu. The parent was at Dunkin Donuts on the coldest day of the year. “The place was very busy and as I was going in, I saw an officer coming out with two coffees,” the parent said in his left. “I saw (Sassu) hand one to a homeless man near the entrance and tell him to ‘Take care and stay warm.’”
Bristol Police Explorer Scouts of the Year Alexandra McMahon and Justin Seamour also were honored with awards Monday night. The release from the Exchange Club explained, “Both have been with the explorer post for two years. Seamour, a senior at BEHS, became interested in the program as a way to develop leadership and communication skills while also learning about a career in law enforcement. He serves on the post’s Honor Guard and holds the position of FTO Corporal. McMahon, a freshman at BEHS, serves on the post’s Honor Guard and SWAT team and holds the position of corporal. She got interested in learning more about law enforcement after watching her cousin go through the police academy.”
“Since Day One these two have been exemplary models for what a Police Explorer should be,” according to post officials, the news release explained. “If something needs to be done, before you can even turn around they are telling you that it is already done.”
By MIKE CHAIKEN