Westborough officer pursues passion in and out of work
By Alexandra Molnar, Contributing Writer
Westborough – As Westborough's school liaison officer and treasurer of the Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers Association, Officer Chip Dapolite is able to combine his interest and background in child psychology with his long-time desire to be a police officer.
He began attending conferences held by the 52-year-old Massachusetts Juvenile Police Officers Association (MJPOA) even before he became a school resource officer five years ago. He was asked to join the executive board as treasurer three years ago.
“I enjoyed juvenile law and loved being with students, [and] thought it would be a good mix,” Dapolite explained.
Dapolite, a Westborough native, will continue to serve as the treasurer for the next two years as he was re-elected to the MJPOA Board in April 2012.
The MJPOA, which Dapolite described as very inclusive and serving the best interest of children, is a subchapter of the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO). It strives to create safe school environments by educating law enforcement and school personnel about issues, such as bullying and security, that surface in a school setting. Additionally, the association provides training to police officers, guidance counselors and school nurses, for example, to respond to problems that may arise. The MJPOA also works to build partnerships between schools and local police and fire departments.
Dapolite would like to continue his position as a board member, he said, because it allows him to help shape the direction of the board. He also attends conferences of NASRO. There are many overlapping discussions and issues that affect Westborough and other towns nationwide, he said. For example, Westborough schools adopted a new lock-down procedure that was discussed at the most recent NASRO conference in Reno, Nev.
Even though Westborough may face different problems than other school districts, all members of MJPOA collaborate in brainstorming and enacting solutions for school safety and juvenile problems.
“That's the part I really enjoy, interacting with other school resource officers, getting ideas; that leads to me being more involved with the students,” Dapolite said.
Dapolite highlighted that the Westborough Police Department has been very supportive of his commitments with the MJPOA.
Bullying is another issue that Dapolite has worked on, including testifying with other MJPOA officials at the State House regarding laws pertaining to this issue.
Dapolite has witnessed the changes in bullying since he was younger. He said that bullying is more prevalent now than five years ago, and cites the advancement of technology as a factor, with emails, texting, and instant messaging playing constant roles in peoples” lives. Facebook is the top place for bullying, a setting which makes the problem difficult to solve, he added.
As the school liaison officer, Dapolite is the link between the police and school departments and town, serving to ensure constant communication. If a student has an issue outside of school, such as injuries from a car crash or arrest, Dapolite contacts the school to make school staff aware of the student's problems and how it is being solved at the Police Department. The school department also keeps Dapolite abreast of problems at school.
Due to budget cuts, Dapolite does not work in the schools full-time, and his time spent on patrol and in schools is not equally divided. However, he hopes that someday he will be able to maintain a presence in the schools full-time, as he believes that the school liaison officer is a position Westborough needs. He explained that it is difficult to form relationships with students when he is not physically at the schools very often.
Dapolite noted that he loves working with youth.
“I's a kid at heart and want to stay young as long as possible. I's benefitting from them as much as they'se benefitting from me because they make me feel young. [I] just enjoy being around young people; I get along with them really well.”
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