Windsor police women honored by peers

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Fri., Mar. 9, 2012
Officer Kari Tkacz is being recognized by the Connecticut Association of Women Police (CAWP) for excellence in performance. Photo by Colin Rajala.
Officer Kari Tkacz is being recognized by the Connecticut Association of Women Police (CAWP) for excellence in performance. Photo by Colin Rajala.

Two Windsor police officers will be honored by the Connecticut Association of Women Police (CAWP) at their annual Awards Gala on March 22 at the Farmington Club. Officer Kari Tkacz is receiving recognition in the category of Excellence in Performance, while Officer Denis Bracero is receiving recognition in the category of Community Service.

“It feels great to be recognized by my fellow police officers,” Tkacz said. “Anytime you’re recognized by your peers it’s incredible.” In Tkacz’s first year as Windsor High School’s resource officer she initiated 83 cases, while also handling 65 cases referred to her by other members of the department, totaling 148 investigations in the past year. Cases range from a fight or dispute to a student talking about issues within their own life either at home or in school.

“I was excited for the new challenge,” Tkacz said. “I became more involved with youth issues because of my own children, and it has led me to love the pace of the high school.” 

Tkacz also found Facebook to be the primary social media used by the high school students, so she developed and implemented a Windsor High School Resource Officer (WHS SRO) Facebook page to encourage student interaction with the SRO in an identified and anonymous capacity. The page also promoted safety topics and positive police-youth interactions.

“I wanted to have a way to communicate with students using their own language,” Tkacz said. “It’s not ‘cool’ to be friends with a police officer [on Facebook], so I also have an open door policy. All you have to do is knock first before you come in.”

Tkacz has also been an invaluable resource to youth outside of the high school. She spends many hours working with the town of Windsor Recreation and Youth Services programs and the Windsor Board of Education alternative education programs to influence children towards a positive lifestyle and positive decision making.

Tkacz mediated disputes between students and presented classes on drug awareness, teen dating, and sexual assault topics. Her problem solving was geared to mentoring Windsor youth towards a healthy, positive, safe lifestyle, free from drugs, violence and risky behavior. “I try to give them resources and programs that kids want to come in and talk about,” Tkacz said. She also created and initiated a program to label and track students' electronic devices through product registration and tracking to reduce the high number of larcenies of the devices in the high school.

Officer Bracero is receiving her community service award as she returns to patrol duties after serving as the Sage Park Middle School SRO from 2003-2009. Her commitment to serving the youth and families of Windsor is shown through her serving as the Police Department’s Coordinator for the Town of Windsor Juvenile Review Board (JRB), despite having the JRB staffing being reduced to two serving members, one of which was Bracero.

During 2010, she used her knowledge of JRB operations with the Windsor Police Department administration to reenergize the program by adding representatives from the State of Connecticut Juvenile Probation office, vice principals from the middle and high school, and the Windsor Youth Services Bureau (YSB) as well as a support staff of school counselors and other police officers.

In addition to the JRB representatives, Bracero made sweeping changes in the program by changing the program's paperwork as well as incorporating a new system which made parents appear with their child before the board, something that had not occurred previously, as well as have an intake worker screen both the youth and the family.

Officers Tkacz and Bracero also are a positive influence to the Windsor youth through their participation in the “Maroon-Blue Crew,” a program developed by the Windsor Police Department and the Windsor YSB, designed to improve communications and relationships between youth and police officers in the community.

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