On May 12, 2017, the Suffield Police Department was proud to be a recipient of an Amiel P. Zak Public Service Fund grant. The grant award of $20,000 was allocated to create and enhance the community and training room. We recognized that, at the time to present, viable community spaces to bring town residents and town services were extremely limited. In support of the efforts of the Town of Suffield and the Suffield Police Department to conduct increased outreach to residents, community members, and members of civic organizations, this generous funding was applied to upgrade the technology and facilities. The Police Department strives to interact and bring in the community in keeping with the founder of modern day policing, Sir Robert Peel’s principle that “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police…” These enhancements also provided for a professional training environment for Suffield’s police officers and staff. Our new 21st century training facility has already gone a long way toward supporting a professional and highly trained police department.
The Amiel P. Zak Community Room was first “tested” in November 2017 when, for the first time in the history of the Suffield Police Department, we hosted a regional police officer recertification training course. This recertification, required by state mandate every three years, was a week-long duration and included police officers from the surrounding jurisdictions as well as from across Connecticut. Additionally in November, the Zak Community Room was used to conduct meetings not only with department personnel, community members but with representatives of various groups including the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).
During December 2017, the Zak Community Room provided a perfect space for a badge pinning ceremony to recognize the achievements of one of Suffield’s newest police officers, Officer Scata, in completing his field training and becoming a solo patrol unit. Later in the month on December 9, this public space was utilized to hold five free special workshops for Suffield youth to spend time with Santa Claus and enjoy holiday activities.
More recently, the Zak Community Room facilitated a regional meeting of School Resource Officers (SRO) and hosted community meetings and an event for the Foundation for Exceptional Children of Suffield. Their initiative, “Project Keep Me Safe Cards” is hosted in the room. These photograph identification cards will be provided free of cost to community members so as to assist first responders in locating, identifying and helping our at risk populations. Additional training has been scheduled for our emergency responders in mental health awareness and crisis intervention.
We would also like to invite the members of the community to participate in our upcoming “Community Conversations” that will be held in the room. This six- part series starting in March and ending in June is an effort to promote healing, recovery, and healthy communities. The goal is to share and learn from other experiences about accessing care for mental health and addiction concerns by strengthening our partnerships between mental health and addiction providers, people and families in recovery, leaders in the faith community and law enforcement.
Although not currently scheduled, the Suffield Police Department anticipates a “public unveiling” of the Amiel P. Zak Community Room during which the community, the Zak family, and staff of the Hartford Foundation will be invited to come to Suffield Police Department, meet with staff, and discuss how and when community members and organizations can utilize this community room moving forward.
The Amiel P. Zak Community Room is routinely utilized for/by:
- Police Cadet Youth Post weekly meetings
- Employment oral board interviews of prospective police department employees
- Juvenile Review Board town wide diversionary program held monthly
- Police and Fire commission monthly public meetings
- Workspace for two previous college students serving internships with Suffield PD
- Media press conferences/interviews by police department leadership
Any organization interested in utilizing this public space is encouraged to contact the Suffield Police Department for reservations.