GLOUCESTER– Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Police Chief Edward Conley are pleased to share that Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett has paid off the remaining balance the city owes for Ace, the Gloucester Police Department’s Community Resource Dog, as part of a broader grant to the Gloucester School and Police Departments.
Ace will participate in the Gloucester All-Stars Academy, a new student leadership program offered at the O’Maley Middle School and Gloucester High School. The All-Stars Academy is modeled on a nationally-recognized program initiated by District Attorney Blodgett in Lynn.
“I’m a strong proponent of working with community partners to keep young people out of the criminal justice system,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. “The Lynn All-Stars program has been very successful in engaging students to become leaders in their school and encourage their peers not to engage in risky behavior. I’m excited to bring the same concept to Gloucester and know that Ace will be a tremendous asset.”
“Ace has become a member of the Gloucester community – he is family,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “We send our gratitude to DA Blodgett for his continued support for the Kops-N-Kids program. This program is a success because of the dedication of the District Attorney’s Office, the Gloucester PD and the Gloucester Public Schools.”
Ace and his handler, School Resource Officer Peter Sutera, have been working with selected middle and high school students participating in the All-Star Academy. The All-Star Academy seeks to teach leadership skills, provide mentorship and foster positive relationships among students and staff.
“Having Ace in the classroom is a great ice-breaker,” said Officer Sutera. “Kids really open up when they interact with him.”
“Having Ace join our department reflects a modern, engaging approach to community engagement, de-escalation and trust building,” said Chief Conley. “I am thankful to District Attorney Blodgett for supporting this innovative model, and the support and comfort Ace will provide our community moving forward.”
Ace was purchased with donated funds from the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, which provides financial assistance for families caring for a loved one with autism and educates the public about autism spectrum disorder. The Gloucester Police Department has held several fundraisers to repay the organization for their kindness, and the District Attorney’s funding will mean the Flutie Foundation has been fully repaid.
“I am beyond proud of our Kops-n-Kids program and how it has evolved. Having Ace has given the Community Impact Unit another tool in our box,” said Lt. Jeremiah Nicastro, who oversees the Community Impact Unit.
Ace, an English Golden Retriever, has been with the Gloucester Police Department since November 2020. He is trained to provide comfort and help de-escalate school-based conflicts and situations concerning children in need, primarily those with ADD, ADHD, who are on the autism spectrum or have other behavioral problems. He is also able to provide comfort to children who may be experiencing or have experienced trauma. There are plans to have Ace visit Alzheimer’s patients at local nursing homes and senior centers, including the Rose Baker Senior Center.