NEWINGTON - It was an opportunity for first responders to come together outside of being the first to respond to a crisis.
The third annual Newington Police and Fire Golf Classic took place at Indian Hill Country Club Tuesday.
“(Because) first responders can sometimes be portrayed in a negative manner, we’re trying to make sure in Newington we’re bringing the positive to our community,” said Jamie DeSimone, a patrol officer for Newington and co-chair of the tournament with Kristen Stegmaier.
National Night Out
Proceeds from the event will go toward the police department’s community outreach programs, including an 11-week Citizens’ Police Academy, in which residents can learn how a police department operates. A Rape Aggression Defense program, or RAD, which starts Oct. 30, and a kids’ citizens’ police academy that runs when interest level is sufficient are among other programs to benefit from the day on the links.
“We sponsor National Night Out, which is again building relationships between the community and the police department, just to build trust,” said DeSimone. “We have a whole wave of new officers so it gives the new officers a non-stressful time to be able to sit down and really get to know members of their community.
“It allows us to have fun, not just get together in times of crisis,” added DeSimone of bringing the two departments together. “It allows us to do a joint venture and work together on something positive, not just when there’s a crisis in town.”
Stegmaier, whose husband, Craig, is a captain with the volunteer fire department, echoed the sentiments by DeSimone on bringing the groups together.
“Within the community, whether it be responding to different calls together, it just builds the relationship between the two,” she said.
Proceeds for the fire department will also go toward community outreach programs, and fire prevention efforts through a community function and effort in the schools, she said. Upkeep of the fire museum and efforts to recruit and retain members, through award nights, are also benefactors of the day’s proceeds.
Following a lunch and shotgun start, the golf tournament featured a longest drive competition and hole in one prizes. Following the round out on the course, a cocktail hour and dinner followed. Gift certificates to local restaurants and a kayak were among raffle prizes.
A 50/50 raffle was also held, in honor of deceased Officers Peter J. Lavery and Ciara McDermott. The proceeds from the 50/50 raffle go toward scholarships established in those officers’ names.
“A lot of us work together,” said Donald King of New Britain Fire Department, who was playing with others from outside the Newington police and fire departments. “A lot of these officers, from when I was a kid I knew them. Now the new guys, I know we all work together, so it’s good to have an opportunity to come together for a great cause.”
Members from the Manchester, Meriden and Wethersfield communities were also out hitting the ball around the course.
“It’s great support,” said DeSimone, who added sometimes Newington officers will go out and support other departments’ efforts. “It’s nice that it’s reciprocated.”
The event raised just under $17,000 last year and DeSimone said she wasn’t expecting to raise that much this year with about 30 less golfers than the 130 who participated last year, but anything helps.
“Anything we get is better than what we had,” DeSimone said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.