New London, Groton Town officers honored for community policing efforts

In this July 2016 file photo, New London Police School Resource Officer Max Bertsch, now a sergeant, fills a pizza box with slices of fresh pizza cooked by High School culinary arts instructor Chef Tomm Johnson in the program's outdoor wood-fired pizza oven at the high school. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
In this July 2016 file photo, New London Police School Resource Officer Max Bertsch, now a sergeant, fills a pizza box with slices of fresh pizza cooked by High School culinary arts instructor Chef Tomm Johnson in the program's outdoor wood-fired pizza oven at the high school. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

New London police Sgt. Max Bertsch and Groton Town Officer Richard Savino were among 15 people the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office recognized Tuesday for their work in community policing.

Bertsch, with his department since January 2006, worked as a school resource officer from late 2009 through August 2016 and has organized National Night Out activities for the past eight years. The New London event brings elementary school youth, their parents and police together for fun, games and conversation at Ocean Beach Park.

The event saw more than 500 attendees this summer.

 “He just gets better and better each and every time he does it,” said Capt. Brian Wright, who said Bertsch was on the first of three days off and unavailable to comment for this story. “He doesn’t rest on his laurels. Each year, whatever he may view as shortcomings or hiccups, he starts right after it’s over taking notes and saying, ‘This is what we can do to improve.’”

Bertsch now works as a patrol sergeant but still is known to take children fishing on his own time.

“We’re extremely proud of him,” Wright said. “I think yesterday’s award was a good opportunity for everyone else to understand what we already know about Max Bertsch.”

Savino, Groton’s dedicated community policing officer, was recognized for participating in events that benefit the Special Olympics, encourage children to read and visit libraries, engage community members in conversation and support Mothers Against Drunk Driving. 

Savino also helps organize Groton’s National Night Out event and meets with victims of domestic violence to ensure they get the help they need.

“He takes pride in those events and in the image of the department and how we’re seen,” Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. said. “That’s been evident to me for quite some time.”

Fusaro, who said the award was a source of pride for the department, said Savino also handles social media for the department and builds relationships with the community that way.

“He has this personality where he’s approachable,” Fusaro said. “He can speak to different segments of our population in a way that represents the department well but also ... shows his compassionate and caring presence.”

Also honored by the Connecticut U.S. Attorney's Office were: 

  • Chief Vincent DeMaio, Clinton police
  • Trooper First Class Dawn Taylor, state police
  • Sgt. James Scott, state police
  • Trooper Kate Cummings, state police
  • Lt. Josh Litwin, East Hartford police
  • Officer Eddie Nuno, Enfield police
  • Officer Ron Bentley, New Canaan police
  • Officer Jean-Maxime “Max” Sixto, Norwalk police
  • Officer Silas Redd, Stamford police
  • Officer Justin Cheney, University of Connecticut police
  • Sgt. Luis Dos Santos, University of New Haven police
  • Sgt. Ryan Bessette, Waterbury police
  • Lisa Velez, past president of the Waterbury Neighborhood Council

“These deserving law enforcement officers understand that community policing is an effective way to prevent crime, solve neighborhood problems and keep our cities and towns safe and secure,” U.S. Attorney John H. Durham said. “They know that it is critically important to engage with members of the community in positive, friendly and constructive ways, long before a call for service.”

l.boyle@theday.com

In this October 2017 file photo, Groton Town police Officer Rich Savino, left, is among colleagues who spoke with the public at Starbucks during the department's first Coffee with a Cop event. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
In this October 2017 file photo, Groton Town police Officer Rich Savino, left, is among colleagues who spoke with the public at Starbucks during the department's first Coffee with a Cop event. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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