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Donation of Little Free Library boosts New London community policing efforts

It was a small but meaningful donation that police say will act as another link between police officers and the community — especially city youth.

A Little Free Library was installed inside the lobby of police department headquarters this month, a blue wooden box to house donated children’s books available to anyone in the community.

The library was donated by the FBI New Haven Citizens Academy Alumni Association who found New London with the help and inspiration from Katherine Goulart, who graduated from the academy in 2017.

Known for her involvement in local civic activities, Goulart considered the library a perfect fit for a police department pushing its community policing initiative.

“I live here in New London and I am active in the community. This was a no brainer,” Goulart said.

Goulart joined with Officer Ryan Soccio, Police Chief Peter Reichard and several members of the FBI New Haven Citizens Academy Alumni Association at the police headquarters for a small ceremony on April 6.

“Any excuse to get kids engaged with police officers in a friendly manner is welcome and we encourage childhood literacy as well, so it’s a win- win,” Soccio said. “A child can take a book, read it and take it back or just keep.”

The library is expected to be replenished through community donations. Goulart thinks there will be an endless supply.

“People are really excited about things like this,” she said. “So far I haven’t had anybody tell me ‘no’ when I asked for donation of books.”

Bob Caplan, vice president of the alumni association, said New London’s is the second library in the state, the first was donated last year to a police substation in New Haven.

“This is part of our involvement in giving back to the community,” he said.

He said he hopes to continue donations to other departments across the state, perhaps even another in New London.

“This is encouraging to me that this organization does this,” Reichard said. “I’m guessing most of the people in this building have books lying around the house. We’ll be able to sustain this.”

Reichard said the department has continued its efforts to engage the community through programs in the school system, monthly community forums and events such as “Coffee with a Cop.”

One of the latest efforts involves some renovations at a police substation at 40 Truman St.

Reichard said within the next month or so repairs will be made to a basketball court outside the substation.

A backboard and rim are already awaiting installation once work on the court is completed.

And thanks to community donations and a grant from Yale New Haven Hospital, some interior work will be completed that will include space for computers that could be used by local youth.

He said he envisions, with the help of community volunteers, offering some afterschool programs and a “safe place for the kids to go.”

“It’s another avenue for officers to get involved with kids in the community, a chance for kids to come in and meet officers and to get city volunteers to work with the officers and the kids,” Reichard said.


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