Putting the utensils on the correct side of the placemat and shuttling breadsticks might not be natural skills for police officers, but one could be fooled into thinking the four cops serving customers at Central Pizza on Tuesday, June 4 had joined the wait staff.
“It gets kind of a chuckle out of everybody,” when the officers reveal that they’re not actually servers, said Detective Ted Fuini, the department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program coordinator.
“We put the serve in serve and protect,” he said.
Fuini was joined June 4 by officers Brandon Lagueux, Mark DePinto and Brett Kelly for the department’s annual Tip A Cop fundraiser, which has been held at the town’s oldest pizzeria for five years.
The fundraiser typically brings in between $500 and $1,500 and helps send officers in the drug education program to the annual DARE International Training Conference. Usually there are enough donations to send two of the officers, who would share what they learned with the other two.
However, this year, Fuini hopes to be able to send all four DARE officers.
After helping the restaurant’s wait staff set tables and carry food, the officers encouraged customers to leave a donation for the program alongside their usual tip.
Berlin residents John and Pat Tedesco said they came to the restaurant to support the DARE program, which helps students and builds relationships between officers and members of the community.
“I think it gives them life skills. It gives them the tools to know right and wrong,” John Tedesco said.
“What better way to get the community to interact with the police department? And we get to know some of the officers.”
The restaurant was busy on June 4 and many customers said they came to show their support for the cops, and DARE.
George Bikakis, whose parents own Central Pizza, said he remembers the DARE program being in the schools when he was a youngster and wants to make sure it continues to steer students in the right direction.
“We’ve been doing it because we believe DARE is an important part of the students’ education … to keep them away from drugs and abusing alcohol,” Bikakis said.
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