Mass. officer named National School Resource Officer of the year

Officer Peter Sutera has created several initiatives including a summer fishing program, an online gaming program and a comfort dog program


By Police1 Staff

HOOVER, Ala. — The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) has announced it will present its 2023 Floyd Ledbetter National School Resource Officer of the Year Award to Officer Peter Sutera of the Gloucester (Massachusetts) Police Department.

The award recognizes school resource officers (SROs) who have made specific and significant contributions to their local communities or school districts. 

“Officer Sutera has truly closed gaps between law enforcement and youth through multiple initiatives of his own creation,” said NASRO executive director Mo Canady in a statement. “For example, he introduced an online gaming program in which children across Gloucester play video games with the SRO and each other, competing for prizes sponsored by local businesses. Realizing a need for emotional support, Officer Sutera volunteered for the additional training he needed to implement a comfort dog program. And perhaps one of Officer Sutera’s biggest successes is a summer fishing program he started, through which he and fellow police officers take students and their parents on half-day fishing trips. That program now runs five days a week, with a waiting list of eager participants.”

“My main goal is to have kids not look at me as a police officer they’d see on the street. I work more toward connections and relationship building,” said Officer Sutera in a statement issued by the Gloucester Police Department. “If there is ever an issue outside of school, I hope students will come to me for help instead of avoiding the police. I work hard to try and bridge the gap to make kids feel comfortable enough to approach me not only as a police officer but as a friend.”

NASRO also announced its National Award of Valor for acts of courage and valor above and beyond what would normally be expected, to five individuals:

  • Officer Rex Engelbert and Detective Michael Collazo of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department ended the tragic shooting at The Covenant School on March 27 by confronting and firing at the shooter, fatally wounding them within 14 minutes of the first report of the incident.
  • Nathan Tietz is dean of students at Burke High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Last January, Mr. Tietz restrained a student who was attacking other students with a knife. The student continued to swing the knife, narrowly missing Mr. Tietz’s face, as the dean continued to push the attacker away.
  • Officer Sarah Heatherton of the Maroa (Illinois) Police Department single-handedly subdued an armed and resistant suspect in the stabbing of another student at her high school in November 2022. The assailant was still armed with a large steak knife when Officer Heatherton disarmed and detained him. The stabbing victim suffered serious injuries in the attack.
  • Officer Jonathan Hobbs of the Bellevue (Nebraska) Police Department de-escalated a potential domestic violence incident in May 2022 in which a 13-year-old student of one of his schools was an assailant. Through the rapport Officer Hobbs had built with the teen at school, he convinced her to drop an axe with which she was threatening her grandparents.

NASRO will present these awards and others on June 30 during a ceremony in Indianapolis as part of its annual National School Safety Conference. For more information, visit www.nasro.org.

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