When Jenna Racz of Shelton heard that five Dallas police officers had been killed, she felt like she lost five family members.
Growing up, Racz had dreams of being a lawyer but that changed when her dad signed her up for the Trumbull Police cadet program back in 2009 when she was in 8th grade. It was then that she realized her love for law enforcement.
“I’ve always loved the law,” said Racz. “I instantly fell in love with the police department and everything law enforcement related after my first time in the department. Everything was structured and very militarized, I was assigned to a squad and loved it.”
She said her experience with the Trumbull cadet club gave her firsthand knowledge of what it takes to be an officer.
“We really learned a lot and most of it came naturally to me. As far as how to perform a motor vehicle stop or how to descalate a person,” said Racz.
She remained in the cadet program until she aged out when she turned 21 this past October. During her time with the cadets she rose to the rank of captain which is the highest rank in the program. Racz has since become an advisor for the program.
Since realizing her passion for law enforcement, Racz said she feels like she is a part of the police culture and cherishes the bond shared by all members on the force. She has her sights on becoming a police officer and said she isn’t sure what she’ll do yet if that plan doesn’t work out.
“I got a speeding ticket in Orange and when the officer walked away I found myself saying, ‘I want to be just like that guy’,” said Racz. “He was so professional.”
Racz explained that she wanted to avoid having the loss of five officers fade away after appearing in the media for a few days so she was inspired to do a tribute to them in the form of a song played on her trumpet.
“Taps is a very special song to me as it is played at police and military funerals,” said Racz. “I thought it was a good way to mourn.”
The song is so special to Racz, she said she performed it five nights in a row to commemorate the officers who were killed in Dallas. She said she’s debating whether or not to continue the tradition each time an officer dies.
According to Racz’s mother, Karen Battistelli, the first night she performed a neighbor from across the Housatonic River cheered her on and applauded. The second night a local police officer visited Racz’s home asking if the song would be performed again because he admired the gesture.
On a Facebook post where the performance was shared, one comment read that people were stopped in their tracks. Racz’s choice to mourn through song caught people off guard as she didn’t tell anyone, simply played the famous tune for all in proximity to hear. She said performing the song is really for her, the fallen officers and her neighborhood.
Racz is currently a criminal justice major at UNH where she plays her trumpet in the school’s marching band and said she aspires to be a police chief someday, preferably in Trumbull.
“I just feel like when I walk into a PD, specifically Trumbull, I’m walking into a group of likeminded people who want to make a difference and do the right thing,” said Racz. “
Everyone here loves to work hard. I feel like I’m at home when I’m in Trumbull’s police station.”