Did You Know? Weston Police Relief Association and Why It Matters
Yesterday morning, this town’s favorite news channel the Wes-TEN (all of Weston’s happenings in 10 minutes or less, between two pines), rolled into the Weston Police Station for interviews, time in the weight room, and to check in with our favorite (and only) community police force. If you haven’t spent time with any of the characters pictured above, you’re missing out. If you have only spent time with them while explaining why you blew through the Intersection of Doom, well, you are also missing out.
As official media sponsor of the Weston Police Relief Association 5K on October 15, the Weston Owl decided to muscle in on Wes-TEN time, and talk with Sergeant Dan Costa, who has been with the Weston Police force since 2008 (starting his fifteenth year, all you mathy people) and has been the president of WPRA for the last eight years. He also wanted to special mention Officer Bazigian, who is the secretary/ treasurer of WPRA, known in the elementary schools as Officer Lindsey, and without whom the WPRA would not get everything done that it does. Yay, team!
The WPRA supports the folks who take care of our public safety–when they need it most. Think Weston town covers maternity leave or medical leave? Guess again. Read on, and then consider what you can do to support our officers.
Owl: The WPRA has been around for how many years? Do all Weston officers belong to it?
Sgt Costa: The WPRA was started in 1950 and all full-time sworn Weston Police Officers are voted into membership upon completing the field training program.
How is the WPRA funded? Does the town pay anything in to it?
The WPRA is 100% funded through donors during annual fundraising. The Town of Weston does not pay anything into the fund.
How does an officer request funds from it? How does the association decide which expenses to cover?
The WPRA operates under the guidance of our by-laws. Officers are eligible to apply for benefits due to illness, injury, or other emergency/special circumstances that prevent them from working. Officers are also eligible for benefits if they are placed on a modified or “light” duty, due to an injury that prevents them from working any overtime or detail work. Other instances of special or emergency assistance the Association has assisted with is covering up-front medical costs that may be reimbursable by the Town’s hardship fund. Officers may also apply for assistance when experiencing other personal financial hardships in accordance with our by-laws. The Association also pays out death benefits to a member’s family in the event an Officer passes away as well as a separation benefit when an Officer retires.
Would a female officer have any maternity leave benefits without WPRA or would her leave be unpaid?
The only leave our female officers are granted through the Town is through the use of their accrued sick, compensatory, or vacation time. When an Officer runs out of their accrued time off, they either have to come back to work, or go unpaid. The Relief Association allows our female Officers to receive benefits while on maternity leave so that they do not have to go unpaid or exhaust every hour of time off that they have accrued.
Is there such a thing as parental leave benefits? As in, would a father be able to take time off to be with a newborn?
We have recently provided benefits to an Officer whose wife just gave birth to twins while also having a two year old at home. The Relief Association is providing this Officer with four weeks of benefits to stay home with his newly expanded family and provide his wife with the much needed support. These benefits are granted on a case-by-case basis, based on each Officer’s individual need-based situation.
What is the fundraising goal of the WPRA?
Recently, multiple generous Weston residents and business owners have pledged to help us increase our fundraising efforts and as such, our new fundraising goal is $100,000. This is obviously a hefty goal and substantial increase from our current funds, but our ability to raise more funds will enable us to expand the scope of who we can help in the future. It is my goal to someday be able to amend our by-laws to possibly assist our Dispatchers, Retirees, and Officers from other Departments that fall ill, suffer substantial injury, or die as a full-time Police Officer.
What are the biggest challenges to the association?
Probably community outreach. I think whether it’s the Relief Association or the Police Department in general, the toughest part of running an organization is reaching the people we serve. We only have so many Facebook followers and we’re constantly trying to grow our page. However, outside of that, our Officers must represent us in a positive light during every encounter they have with our residents. I think our Officers take pride in providing the residents of Weston with a high level of more personal service than you typically find in policing throughout most of the country. Every Weston Police Officer is mentored from their first day and throughout their career to treat each and every person we meet with the same dignity and respect that we would expect our own family members to receive when encountering a member of law enforcement. We pride ourselves on being highly-trained, well-rounded, compassionate and dedicated Officers to the members of this community.
Who is your favorite superhero?
If I didn’t answer “Spiderman,” my 6-year-old son would never forgive me!
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to cook, especially on a smoker or open fire. I also took up learning to play guitar about a year ago. It’s definitely one of the toughest things I’ve attempted to do but I can now play some things that resemble music. I wish I would have started 20 years ago, but 20 years from now that’ll be true hopefully!
5K Throwdown: Fire Department vs Police Department–who will win?
Police will obviously win, no doubt, no chance of losing, 100%. I feel like the fire department knows this and will probably concede prior to the race*.
If you would like to donate to the Weston Police Relief Benefit Association, please click this link. To join the 5K, or to participate in the raffles which include Patriots, Bruins and Red Sox tickets, click here.
Go ‘cats and go Knox!
*Note: the Fire Department recently conceded the race, ostensibly because they are uniters not dividers. Really we know it’s because K9 Knox is the Police trainer, and the Fire Department has only a gecko.