HAZLET – An officer who serves in the Hazlet Police Department has been recognized by the New Jersey Attorney General for creating the police department’s first open house for children who have special needs.
Patrolwoman Charleigh Logothetis has been recognized by Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck as one of the winners of the 2021 Excellence in Policing Awards.
According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, Logothetis received the Outstanding Youth Engagement Award, which honors an officer who designed and implemented an innovative program or initiative to promote stronger police-youth engagement.
According to the press release, Logothetis facilitated the police department’s inaugural special needs open house in October. The program was designed to build a positive foundation with the community and focused on children who have special needs, while also collaborating with local and statewide programs and organizations.
“There were only six recipients statewide that received awards and the Hazlet Police Department is honored one of our own was chosen,” police department administrators said in an online statement. “We congratulate (Logothetis) on this tremendous accomplishment and her hard work in putting Hazlet on the forefront of policing, once again.”
In a video recorded for the Attorney General’s Office, Logothetis said she came up with the idea for the special needs open house after being approached by Police Chief Ted Wittke in 2020.
Wittke, who has a son on the autism spectrum, noted he had never seen the police department have a special needs open house before.
“There is no opening to say come to our police department, bring your children, meet us, let them know we are your friends and there are all of these other resources locally available to you,” Logothetis said. “There are all these other families who are going through the same struggles you may be going through.”
According to Logothetis, the police department partnered with Tender Touch Occupational Therapy, Speech Start Occupational, POAC Autism Services, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Project Lifesaver and the Monmouth County Special Needs Registry.
Also present at the event was Gerald Turning Jr., a retired captain with the Tinton Falls Police Department. Turning, who has a son on the autism spectrum, wrote a fictional book that was inspired by his experiences with his son.
“You learn so much about the people living in your community and how much of an effect you can have, no matter how old they are, just by treating them kindly and with respect,” Logothetis said. “I believe it was very successful and I am looking forward to hosting another one.”