Staples named Shelton officer of the year, praises ‘team effort’

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Police Officer John Staples, one of the department’s school resource officers, is known to the city’s youth as Officer Bubbles or Bubbz. Now he has a new title — Officer of the Year.

Staples received the honor from the Shelton Exchange Club during the 27th annual Salute to Connecticut’s Finest, an event sponsored by the Connecticut District Exchange Clubs Thursday at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.

“It was great to learn I was being acknowledged, but at the end of the day, this is not a one-person award,” Staples said. “I can’t do anything without the buy-in from my supervisors and the help from my peers. It is truly a team effort here.”

Staples said he has not done anything different than his fellow officers, but his boss says Staples’ efforts earned him this recognition.

“John Staples is one of the most dedicated officers, who goes over and beyond every day,” said Police Chief Shawn Sequeira. “His commitment to crime prevention and school resource officer has an impact on the children, families, and community.

Sequeira added that Stapes is well respected throughout the community and was one of the most deserving of the award.

“We are honored to have him as part of the Shelton Police Department,” Sequeira added.

Staples has been a police officer for six years, joining the Shelton force in 2020. He is the department’s school resource officer and crime prevention officer.

“Since his first day with the Shelton Police Department, he has made it his mission to establish positive relationships with the youth and engage with business owners,” said Lt. Robert Kozlowsky.

As school resource officer, Staples visits the schools on a regular basis. In this role he also brought his Small City Big Dreams initiative to the schools.

The Small City Big Dreams program is designed to build relationships and acquaint children and young adults with law enforcement officers while providing safety and crime prevention initiatives within school and throughout the community. Staples also acts as a mentor to dozens of local young people.

Staples said he feels his efforts are resonating with the young people he works with on a daily basis.

Last Saturday’s stabbing death of Shelton resident and Fairfield Prep student James McGrath is an example of an incident that offers law enforcement a chance to be a comforting ear to students, Staples said.

“In my role, I listen to (the young people), give them space and time to grieve,” Staples said. “I want to be there to let them share what’s on their mind, what they are going through. I am always here to provide any information or resources they need. It’s about helping them.”

This past December, Staples teamed up with Walmart and the school district to make holiday dreams come true for those young people and families that needed assistance.

He organized the first ever Stuff-a-Cruiser event which was a major success, Kozlowsky said.

“Numerous kids had an unforgettable holiday thanks to the initiative and effort of Officer Staples,” Kozlowsky added.

Kozlowsky also praised Staples for spearheading a downtown patrol walking beat with the purpose of increasing the police presence in what is an ever-expanding downtown and improving communication with business owners.