- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

BOLTON, Conn. (AP) - Expect to see plenty of state Trooper Brian Contenta over the next few years.

The town’s new resident state trooper says he has landed his dream job and plans to stick around “for the long run.

“I have 16 more years to go” before retirement age, he said with a laugh.

“I love this community, and I’m really enjoying the people,” Contenta said. “It was a position I kept my eye on for a while.”

As soon as it became available, Contenta, 34, said he jumped at the chance.

Longtime Resident State Trooper James Tilley retired last year and was briefly replaced by Trooper Kevin Cook, who has since taken a day shift with Troop C in Tolland, which is closer to his residence.

Contenta will work mainly afternoons and evenings in Bolton alongside Trooper David Piela, who patrols the town during the day.

But even when he is not in Bolton, Contenta says he is “very readily available,” as his house is just seven minutes from Town Hall, door-to-door.

While Contenta has been a state trooper for only four years, he has a decade of experience in law enforcement, serving as a police officer with the Hartford department from 2003 to 2005 and then with the Lenox, Mass., department from 2005 to 2010.

Born and bred in the Massachusetts Berkshires, Contenta said the Bolton landscape feels familiar.

Both Bolton and Lenox are community-oriented and family-strong, he said.

“That’s really what piqued my interest in working here,” Contenta said.

A criminal justice course in college planted the seed for a career in law enforcement, he said. Plus, it runs in the family, he added, pointing with pride to two uncles who serve in Massachusetts departments.

“Instead of just reading about crime in the newspaper, this is a position where I felt I could make a difference,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to try to stop crime.”

And preventing and solving crime is easier as a resident trooper, rather than driving state roads and patrolling 12 towns, he said.

“It’s hard to meet people that way,” he said.

Since he came on board, Contenta has been out daily on a meet-and-greet campaign, stopping to introduce himself to every town and school official, businessman and woman, community and religious group and resident he comes across.

And he is making it a point to stop by both schools regularly to chat with students and parents.

It’s an effort to start building trust and partnerships, a cornerstone of community policing.

“That’s the most effective way to keep crime out and prevent it,” he said.

He wants to know and be known by personal names rather than having residents just see a uniform.

Police are “more approachable that way,” which makes it easier for witnesses and victims to come forward with information about criminal activity, he said, adding: “I’ve seen it in practice, and it works.”

His priorities include promoting school safety and decreasing the number of traffic accidents and burglaries in town.

Texting while driving is the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents, he said, adding that he’s surprised by how often he sees it.

“I’ll sit in my cruiser with a radar gun and easily one out of every 20 cars that goes by has someone texting as they’re driving,” he said noting that it happens in every age group.

And while drug trafficking is an issue in this town located between Hartford and the University of Connecticut, breaking and entering is an even bigger concern for this mostly commuter community, he said.

“We take that very seriously,” he said, adding that resident troopers are “always monitoring and watching with a strong police presence” in the rural neighborhoods.

Good community relations with residents also help there, he said.

If he hasn’t met you yet, Contenta wants residents to stop by the office in the Old Stagecoach House next door to Town Hall.

“If you see my cruiser parked out front of the garage, come in and say hi and drop off your questions and concerns,” he said.


Information from: Journal Inquirer, https://www.journalinquirer.com

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