The Rotary Foundation recently awarded a $30k grant to Rotary District 7930 to sponsor a Vocational Training Team (VTT) to Kent, England this past May. Winchester Police Department’s School Resource Officer Sergeant Dan Perenick was competitively selected to join a team of four School Resource Officers to travel to England for two weeks.
Upon return, Perenick spoke about his time in the United Kingdom at a recent Winchester Rotary Club Luncheon (see below for speech).
The team studied and exchanged best practices in the areas of substance abuse prevention, mental health, school and law enforcement relationships, and school threat assessment.
“The VTT was an outstanding professional opportunity that allowed us to work hand in hand with our law enforcement peers in the UK who are dealing with the same issues and concerns. We were able to learn from proactive programs and initiatives that they are using to help people within their communities,” stated Sgt. Perenick
Rotarian Amy Luckiewicz from the Wakefield Rotary Club was selected as the team leader.
“This team was the first time the Rotary Foundation has sponsored a law enforcement-focused training team from our area,” she noted. “We got great feedback that our ability to bring frontline officers enhanced the experience for our British counterparts.”
“This training opportunity, provided by the Rotary Foundation, will certainly benefit the police department and the community as a whole. The innovative and proactive approaches learned will assist us in both preventing problems and dealing with problems when they present within our community,” Winchester Police Chief Peter MacDonnell noted.
The team traveled mainly within the county of Kent in the United Kingdom, and visited 10 communities within the county. They worked alongside British law enforcement officers and engaged in strategic planning, classroom learning, and tactical training. In turn, the American team provided the British officers with information on how their home departments address community concerns.
In addition to his own training, Sgt. Perenick provided information sessions on regional responses to emergencies, cadet programs, and self defense trainings.
“It was very rewarding to share some of the innovative programs that we use within our community and region to help keep young people safe. I look forward to keeping the communications open and continue to share and exchange cutting edge ideas back and forth between our departments for years to come,” Sgt. Perenick commented.
Alongside the sergeant, the team consisted of three other School Resource Officers: Detective Paul Lucci from North Reading, Detective Dawne Armitstead of the Winthrop Police Department, and Officer Megan Tierney of the Newbury Police Department. It has been estimated that the team had interactions with 112 officers, police staff, and community members as well as 40 police cadets during their time in Kent. In addition, they met with 27 organizations or teams as part of the shared learning experience.
Officers were expected to bring back new ideas and best practices to their home communities. A successful VTT increases the capacity of the communities to solve problems and improve the quality of life. Funding for these teams is from a competitive fund by global donations to The Rotary Foundation.
The Rotary Foundation offers grants in six humanitarian areas of focus including water and sanitation, disease prevention and treatment, economic and community development, basic education and literacy, maternal and child health and peace and conflict resolution.
Speech to the Rotary Club
When Sgt. Perenick returned from his trip abroad, he and Chief MacDonnell visited the Rotary Club and spoke at its luncheon. The sergeant’s speech is below:
Thank you all for the invitation for myself and Chief MacDonnell to visit today. First of all to say THANK YOU for all of your support over the years as a student myself at Winchester High School, a police explorer and as a police officer here in the Town of Winchester for the past 31 years. With your ongoing support and continued partnership, we have had the opportunity to touch many people’s lives, especially the youth of the town and the students at Winchester High School through positive engagement and programming.
I truly believe that with this relationship in place that I had this professional opportunity to submit for this Vocational Training Team trip (thank you Past President Rich Mucci) and was chosen as one of four School Resource Officers from all of Rotary District 7930 to represent not only the Town of Winchester and the Winchester Rotary Club, but also the United States while part of this first-in-the-nation trip to Kent County in the United Kingdom.
A special thanks to our VTT team leader Amy Luckiewicz from the Wakefield Rotary Club and District 7930 for her leadership, organizational skills and support of this unbelievable opportunity. I would also like to thank Marnie Walsh for her participation in the interview process and her continued support of this team, the program and myself over the years and a big thank you to Chief Peter MacDonnell for supporting what I do over all of these years and for fully supporting me to participate and for being away for two weeks.
At this time I would like to read to you the press release that will be going out this afternoon to summarize this outstanding opportunity and then talk briefly about what my goals for our community are due to this experience…
-How important it is to create and work in partnership with community stakeholders to address and solve problems (Youth Hubs and Task Force)
-Focus on the importance of student and parent transition from primary to secondary school to reduce calls for service.
-How important it is to create mental health strategies (thinking outside the box) to deal with the increasing calls for service and how to follow through so that these cases are handled in a compassionate, supportive and timely way.
-The use of alternatives with juvenile justice such as diversion and restorative justice along with drug and mental health courts.
-The importance of youth programs like the Cadet/Explorer program to provide role models, support and future well trained and compassionate officers
-Train our officers in Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for de-escalation techniques
-Work with the Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community in creating Courses for Youth around building positive self-esteem (Youth Hub)
-Work with Winchester Hospital and the surrounding police departments who utilize its services to create a team to review chronic mental health and substance abuse patients and follow up services
-Work with Chief MacDonnell to identify funding to employ a part time mental health/substance abuse clinician within our department for direct and timely out reach.
"It was an unbelievable career experience (professionally, historically and socially) that I will never forget. I learned a great deal from our law enforcement and social service counterparts in Kent County around the international issues of mental health, substance abuse and school safety/threat assessment. The information learned and the professional relationships made during this Vocational Training Team trip will assist our community and our region for years to come.
Again, thank you all for having us today and your continued support of the Winchester Police Department.
For more information on how Rotary impacts the local and global communities, please visit www.rotary7930.org.