Jill Ruggiero is a cop who loves kids. With the Westport Police Department, she spent the last 3 years in her dream job: youth detective.
“Whether they’re making good decisions or bad, I really like being around them,” the 8-year police force veteran says. “I’m attracted to the kids’ work, not cops and robbers.”
Next week, Jill joins 7 fellow officers for a swearing-in ceremony. She’ll be promoted to sergeant — in the patrol bureau. Leaving the youth division was a tough decision for the bright young woman.
Jill has loved every aspect of her detective job. She calls Westport young people “great kids, smart kids.” She learns something from every encounter with them.
She also enjoys watching them grow. In nearly a decade, she’s watched young troublemakers grow into successful adults.
“When it comes to kids, there’s not one I don’t like,” Jill says firmly.
As youth detective, she’s enjoyed great partnerships with the schools, Youth Commission and Human Services. Predecessor Arnie DeCarolis worked hard to build those relationships, she notes. “It’s super-important for me that the next youth detective keeps them going strong,” she says.
Jill praises her supervisors in the Westport Police Department for their solid support of the youth division. “They understand it’s different than dealing with adults,” she says.
Any advice for her successor? “Learn and understand youth — in general, and in this town,” Jill says. “We’re law enforcers, and we have to do that piece. But understand kids’ issues.”
Jill knows she’ll miss “all the groups, like TAG and Peer Advisors.” She looks forward to seeing those “great kids” in her new role.
“But I’ll be on the midnight shift, so…”
She laughs. She knows Westport teenagers. She knows she’ll still see them.