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School Resource Officer to be honored

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The Highland Village Women’s Club and The Highland Village Police Department are sponsoring a fundraiser to erect a memorial honoring Corporal April Roppolo, commemorating her dedicated services to the community.

A life size bronze statue likeness of “Officer April”, as she is affectionately known, will be prominently displayed at an inland trail rest area just east of the police facility. 

An honor such as this is usually reserved for someone at the end of their career or posthumously, but Roppolo is alive and well, on the job every day working with area school children.

Roppolo has served as the School Resource Officer for the Highland Village Police Department for eleven years of her 19 year tenure, also having spent two years undercover.  Prior to her current position, she was with the Dallas Police Department’s North Central Division for four years. 

“That was my calling,” she recalls.

She accepted her first position in Highland Village after a friend encouraged her to apply, realizing that she was commuting to downtown Dallas each day.  “After praying about it, I decided to give it a shot.  It has been a good move.” 

One aspect of Roppolo’s position includes facilitation of the LETS program for students at Heritage Elementary, McAuliffe Elementary, Highland Village Elementary, and Briarhill Middle Schools. 

“LETS is Law Enforcement Teaching Students, designed for 5th and 7th grade.  I talk about character, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, and starting to own these traits while you’re young.  If you wait until you’re a teenager, many times it’s too late,” said Roppolo, whose position also includes walking the halls at school, and interacting with the parents. 

“They’re my kids.  I can communicate with them and their parents.  They trust me and know they can come to me for anything.  We have a bond.  I attend their weddings and police academy graduations.  If someone is being abused, the kids know that I will get help.  My phone is on 24 hours a day and kids call in the night.  On any given night I could deal with anything from a potential suicide to drugs.”

Roppolo recalls two fond memories of serving in her current position.  In 2009, she made history as the first Highland Village police officer to be recognized at the Denton County Police Banquet for the Heroes of Denton County Award.  “The citizens all wrote in about contributions I had made in their lives.  I was very moved and surprised.” 

Roppolo was honored again in 2011 by the Highland Village Rotary when she received the International Rotarian Police Award. 

“I tell my kids that it doesn’t matter how you start out in life, you can make something of yourself.  I could have done drugs, but I didn’t.  I’m a survivor-tell me that’s not God,” Roppolo said as she shared her story of a life in foster homes starting out in Manhattan and having no family.

Highland Village Chief of Police Ed O’Bara said that Roppolo’s memorial is well deserved.

“The statue is in recognition for the service provided to our community by the men and women of the Highland Village Police Department with a particular tribute to Officer April for her years of service to our school children and their families,” said O’Bara.

“April has literally raised a generation of our children with her messaging through our LETS program.  Kids who have gone on to college, raise their own families, joined the military, gotten great jobs and are now leading productive lives, who still take the time to thank her for the time and love she invested in them. 

“I believe that April, in particular, epitomizes the kind of service that our police department is committed to providing our citizens, which is why I decided to make the statue a likeness of her…it’s who ‘we’ are.”

O’Bara adds that his team of officers has managed to achieve the “Safest City in North Texas” for populations over 10-thousand for the past ten years, and often in the state and on a national level. 

They have also achieved four Texas Municipal League recognition awards and two International Association of Policing awards for the uniqueness of their model and creative solutions that have been implemented to prevent crime from occurring in Highland Village throughout the years.

“This is a unique department, and I believe that their efforts, and the efforts of future officers that embrace our model of policing deserve lasting recognition,” said O’Bara. 

When asked about his decision to honor Officer April even as she still continues to serve the community, he added, “It was important for her to see and hear the outpouring of love and gratitude that our community has for her.”

To support this initiative with individual donations or the sponsorship of fundraising through local groups or associations, you may contact Chief O’Bara at 972-672-8004 or email eobara@highlandvillage.org.

 

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