Police Chief Matthew Catania was named Chief of the Year at the first annual Connecticut Law Enforcement Awards and Recognition dinner, held June 25 at Anthony’s Ocean Catering in New Haven.
“This is one of those milestones I’ll never forget,” said Catania, who has led the Plainville Police Department for nearly nine years.
While grateful he was nominated for the award, Catania said the work the department does wouldn’t be possible without dedicated officers and a supportive community.
The chief said, “I’m only as effective as I am because the officers here respond to my leadership style,” while he works to provide the tools and training they need to do their job.
That style focuses on building bonds of trust with the community. “When your police department is user-friendly, your community feels confident that they can reach out to the police,” he said.
Catania was nominated for the award by Town Manager Robert Lee, who told the awards committee he has seen the department’s reputation, transparency and expertise grow under Catania’s leadership.
Lee noted one incident where Catania returned to Plainville while on vacation in Rhode Island in order to back his officers.
“It is that type of dedication that stands him above most other civil servants that I have observed in my 40 years of working in local government,” Lee wrote in his nomination.
Other municipal employees who joined Lee in extolling Catania’s leadership said he not only worked with them to improve the physical security of their buildings, but tended to any issues they brought to him.
Plainville Public Library Director Trish Tomlinson wrote about an instance where her staff noticed there appeared to be a number of patrons coming to the library under the influence and leaving drug paraphernalia in bathrooms. She notified Catania and within minutes an officer arrived to gather information and form a plan to have regular, interactive patrols established.
By the end of the week, Tomlinson said the problem had been resolved for good.
In her own letter, Superintendent of Schools Maureen Brummett wrote that Catania has proven himself to be a “collaborative professional” in his efforts to improve school safety through training educators and helping her lobby for a school resource officer at the high school.
“He understands the delicate balance of police presence and the need to keep our schools running on a daily basis,” Brummett wrote. “He is always available to discuss a wide range of issues and has successfully facilitated a process that allows us to deal with delicate criminal and security issues. I cannot think of a better or more qualified candidate for your prestigious award.”
The Chief of the Year award was sponsored by the Peace Island Institute, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New Haven field office and the Yale University Police Department.
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