The creation of a new position in the North Royalton Police Department (NRPD) has led to the creation of new programs that are designed to bring the NRPD and the community closer together.
In January, North Royalton Police Chief Keith Tarase instituted the new position of Community Engagement Coordinator within the NRPD. “I was looking for the department to have more engagement with the community, other than through our normal police duties,” said Tarase. He noted that other local police departments have either departments or officers that handle the types of programs that engage their residents. “I was looking for that kind of commitment from our department that would somewhat alleviate some duties from administration. I want that position to reach out to businesses and residents to see how we are doing and how we can serve them better.” He also said that the position would be more involved in city events, providing an opportunity to engage with the City and local businesses. Tarase appointed Sgt. John Stolarski as the department’s new Community Engagement Coordinator.
Stolarski has served the North Royalton Police Department for over 27 years, started as a Patrol Officer. He also served with the Southwest Enforcement Bureau. Over fifteen years, he served the NRPD as a Detective and was promoted to Sergeant in the fall of 2021.
Some of the other possibilities being reviewed is a Citizen/Police Academy, where residents can learn what police actually do, said Tarase. The position will also provide information and education to other sectors of the community, such as senior citizens on topics, such as fraud, which might be delivered in a meeting-like setting.
Stolarski has hit the ground running, with the creation of the first program, called the Cops and Students Enjoying Sports (CASES) Program. He explained that he attended a leadership class and part of an assignment was to come up with a community engagement project: CASES was created. Tarase liked the idea and told him to implement it.
Stolarski was instrumental in receiving a $1,000 grant toward this program from the Pizzi Family Fund, which was established to “encourage law enforcement departments to establish community outreach programs intended to help the relationship between law enforcement and the citizens and communities they protect.” It was designed to help reduce crime, especially involving teens. Stolarski said that he learned about the grant and decided to apply. North Royalton was one of only two grant awards given.
The CASES program will be done in collaboration with our Service and Recreation Departments as well as the North Royalton School District. Stolarski said he wanted to start with the schools. “I wanted to involve the Student Resource Officers (SROs) to get into the schools and organize games on a regular basis.” He will be starting the CASES program with the new school year in the fall. He has met with North Royalton School Superintendent, Mike Laub, the District’s SROs and several of the District’s Principals. “I just think it’s a phenomenal opportunity to continue to build a positive relation between schools, the community, the kids and the safety forces,” said North Royalton School Superintendent, Mike Laub “Those are all good things. We discussed a lot of possibilities.” Laub said some ideas, such as police/faculty/student games and lunch/recess relationship building were discussed. A more precise program will be formalized over the summer months.
“I think the way we are trying an approach with the police, is to try to get kids to interact and change the overall perception of the police,” said Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz. “This program is a way for kids to see that police are there and they aren’t the bad guys.”
Those who may want to support this program, contact Sgt. John Stolarski at 440-582-6216 x2218.
By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK