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Captain Joe Rios, 53, a 26-year veteran of the Newtown Police Department, is retiring as a town police officer to take a position with the Norwalk public school system, where, as a civilian, he will oversee safety and preparedness for the public schools. Capt Rios’s last day of work is September 22. He starts his new post in Norwalk in early October.
Capt Rios has risen through the ranks of the Newtown Police Department, starting as a patrol officer in 1990, and becoming the department’s first school resource officer in 1995. The Police Commission later promoted him to the rank of sergeant, after which he became the department’s sole captain, having skipped the rank of lieutenant.
In 1999, Capt Rios became the second-in-command in the department, serving in that capacity until now.
In Norwalk, Capt Rios will be involved in emergency operations planning and also serve as a liaison between the Norwalk schools and that city’s emergency-oriented public agencies. Also, he will supervise the training for school system faculty and staff on safety/preparedness matters. Norwalk, a city of about 86,000 residents, has 19 public schools.
Capt Rios, a longtime Newtown resident, said he plans to continue living here with his wife and son.
Of his departure from the police agency where he has worked nearly half his life, Capt Rios said he will miss his daily social interactions with police officers and with the department’s staff, as well as the residents of Newtown.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Capt Rios said of his new position, stressing his interest in school security issues.
He added that he hopes to make good use of his skills, knowledge, and experience in his new post.
The captain said that of the many posts he has held as a Newtown policeman, his favorite assignment was that of school resource officer from 1995 to 1997, when he specialized in police work pertaining to middle and high school students. During that time he served as the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer, teaching students how to avoid peer group pressure to use alcohol and drugs.
A former coach in local youth baseball and youth basketball, Capt Rios is now involved in coaching the local fall baseball season for 14-year-old boys.
“I’ve really had a good career,” Capt Rios said of his years as a town police officer. “It’s been a privilege and an honor to serve here,” he added.
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident in December 2012, he worked closely with the Newtown public schools in terms of emergency planning.
The new Sandy Hook School, an attractive building coupled with modern security features that was built at the site of the former school, provides a perfect environment for education, Capt Rios said.
“I’m glad that it’s come together,” he added.
He said he is especially thankful to his family members for the sacrifices that they have made in terms of his work as a Newtown police officer.
Police Commissioners Comment
At a September 6 Police Commission meeting at which Capt Rios announced his retirement, Police Commission Chairman Joel Faxon told him, “We’re going to miss you, very much, here.”
“Mr Faxon added, “It’s an opportunity for you… They’re [Norwalk] definitely getting a gem… Thank you very much for your service to Newtown.”
Commission member Brain Budd said Capt Rios has been very helpful to the commission and has “served the town in expert fashion.”
Police Chief James Viadero, who presented an honorary plaque to Capt Rios, described him as “a consummate professional. You’re making a good career move,” the police chief added.
“This department is in very good hands going forward,” Capt Rios responded.
On September 7, Aaron Bahamonde, the police department’s administrative sergeant, said that he has not met any person who is more dedicated to the law enforcement profession and to the residents of Newtown than Capt Rios.