Fairfield Police Department Presents Detective Michael Clark with Distinguished Service Medal

FAIRFIELD — Chief Christopher Lyddy is pleased to announce that the Fairfield Police Department recently presented Detective Michael Clark with the department’s Distinguished Service Medal.

Chief Lyddy presented Det. Clark with the award on Tuesday, April 21.

The recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal is an officer who has made a significant and major contribution to the development of programs, policies or procedures that have had a substantial impact on the Fairfield Police Department, the Fairfield community, or the police profession. 

When Det. Clark was assigned to the School Safety Division, he developed from the ground up the Fairfield Police Department’s home-grown, proprietary program called “SHAPE Our Youth.”

SHAPE is an acronym for Safety, Health, and Positive Environment. Det. Clark spent countless hours of his own time researching and compiling data, curriculum and lesson building, and developing a model of distribution that has received tremendous praise from Fairfield Public School students, parents, school staff and other police agencies nationwide. He identified core concepts that are most relevant to Fairfield youth and built the curriculum around these issues. 

Such issues go far beyond drug and alcohol education and include social skills, decision making, conflict resolution and methods of minimizing risk of school violence.

Approximately 1,200 Fairfield students, primarily in grades 5 and 6, take the SHAPE course every year, free of charge. Classes are held in the students’ individual classrooms, and consist of five sessions for fifth graders and three sessions for sixth graders.

Det. Clark created an easy-to-remember decision making model, which is applied and reinforced in every lesson. The decision making model is designed to easily incorporate into the students’ everyday lives so it can be applied to any difficult situation. 

The impacts of the SHAPE Our Youth program include:

Impact on the community: The SHAPE program reaches more than 1,000 Fairfield youth per year, and has been successfully in effect for six years. Students remember their SHAPE officer as they move throughout their school career and respond better to interactions with police as a result. Parents continuously thank members of the department for teaching their children how to discuss and deal with their everyday stressors. 

Impact on the Fairfield Police Department: The program shows the agency’s ability to pursue effective, alternative lines of community policing. Det. Clark developed a SHAPE tee shirt design that is still to this day distributed upon graduation from the program to commemorate the students’ achievement. Thousands of students have been photographed wearing this shirt and displayed on various media and social media outlets, which has been a tremendous community relations asset. The program helps to humanize police officers and build rapport with the parent and student community. Students can be seen wearing FPD SHAPE tee shirts throughout the summer all over town.

Impact on the profession: By the second year of the SHAPE program, the FPD started receiving calls from police agencies throughout the country requesting the model, materials, lesson plans and guidance.

SHAPE has become a staple program for the Fairfield Police Department and the Fairfield community as a whole. 

“Det. Clark is extremely deserving of the Distinguished Service Medal, considering the amount of time, preparation and forward thinking he committed to the conception and creation of this program, and ultimately its successful implementation,” Chief Lyddy said. “We congratulate him on the award, and look forward to many, many more years of the SHAPE program helping the younger generation of Fairfield residents.”

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