SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Christopher Colucci, a lifelong resident of the borough and member of the South Plainfield Police Department (SPPD) for over 20 years, was recognized last week by the school district and board of education.
In 2018, Colucci drafted a blueprint for a separate Juvenile Division, and with the support of the borough, along with SPPD Chief James Parker, Captain Daniel Noonan, and Lieutenant Wendell Born, a unit comprised of three school resource officers (SROs) and a juvenile detective was formed. For nearly two years, Colucci served as the unit’s detective sergeant with Officers Anthony Louise, Justin Melanson and Zachary Melanson serving as SROs.
Earlier this month, however, Colucci was promoted to lieutenant and, as a result, will no longer head the division. He was honored for his dedication and service to the district at the Dec. 18 South Plainfield Board of Education (SPBOE) meeting.
“Although I hate to see you leave us, I know that you are always here for out school district,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Noreen Lishak. “I am happy for you on your promotion to lieutenant but please know you will be missed.”
As the program’s supervisor, Colucci, said the superintendent, has ‘played a vital role in building and maintaining’ the partnership the district has with the borough and police department.
“...The relationship we have built between our district and the South Plainfield Police Department is collaborative and built on mutual respect for the common goal of the safety of our school community,” Lishak said, adding that Colucci has supported the district on any issues that arose and provided guidance to the administrative team as well as personally made himself available at all times.
“You are always thinking of different ways to address an issue or head off potential issues within our schools. Your willingness to work with the district is apparent, whether it is to address instructional topics for our SROs or an alternative way to address a safety concern,” she told Colucci. “This clearly shows your dedication to the safety of our students, faculty, and staff…We are lucky to have you as one of South Plainfield’s finest.”
Colucci, who also reinstituted the South Plainfield Junior Police Academy and served as its superintendent, told TAPinto he feels a strong relationship between the police department and school district is important because, at the end of the day, everyone ‘ultimately want[s] the same thing.’
“[We all want] to provide the children with the safest learning environment possible. What better way to accomplish that than to create a partnership with the schools utilizing our individual expertise to be as efficient as possible,” said Colucci, adding that he will miss the ‘daily working relationship’ with the members of his unit and ‘working closely with the school district’s central administration, building principals, and students.’
“The most rewarding part about my job is the positive impact that the division has had on the community and the relationships the SROs have fostered with the students,” he said.
In addition to honoring Colucci, the superintendent also commended the district’s SROS, stating that she has ‘only heard positive comments about their presence in the schools.’ Officers Anthony Louise, Justin Melanson, and Zachary Melanson, she said, ‘have developed relationships with students from the elementary schools up to the high school’ and ‘have shown genuine interest in [the students’] lives.’
“Their role as School Resource Officers is important not just for safety....they are shaping a lifelong relationship these kids will have with the police. I want to thank them for all that they do for our students,” said Lishak.
Moving forward, the SPPD’s Juvenile Division will be led by Detective Sergeant Shaun Clifford and, during last week’s meeting, he was officially welcomed.
“Sergeant Clifford you have the reputation as a dedicated and trustworthy law enforcement officer,” said Lishak. “I look forward to working with you. Welcome.”
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