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'It's a police thing' -- nearby cops move in, give Newtown officers Christmas off

By CNN Staff
December 25, 2012 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
Newtown, Connecticut, first responders received an emotional standing ovation at a vigil for the school shooting victims on December 16.
Newtown, Connecticut, first responders received an emotional standing ovation at a vigil for the school shooting victims on December 16.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newtown police have worked nonstop since the Sandy Hook school shooting
  • Officers from neighboring towns have come in to help
  • On Christmas Day, neighboring officers will patrol the entire community
  • Newtown police officers will have Christmas Day at home with their families

(CNN) -- From around the world, condolences and offers of support have washed tragedy-ravaged Newtown, Connecticut, with wave after wave of sympathy from people trying somehow, some way, to reach out, to help, to comfort.

On Christmas Day, thanks to a grassroots effort by their fellow law enforcement brethren in nearby communities, Newtown's police officers will be the recipients of a rare gift in their profession -- a holiday off, for the entire force.

"Patrol officers and sworn personnel will be given the day off to be home on Christmas. Officers from surrounding towns will be patrolling Newtown," police Sgt. Steve Santucci of Newtown told CNN.

Newtown police have been working nonstop since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14. The school shooting claimed the lives of 20 children and six faculty members, leaving a close-knit community -- and its police force -- still reeling 10 days later.

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"When something like this happens ... it's a police thing. We'll always try to help out neighboring towns. Any time there's a tragedy, we'll try our best to lend a helping hand," said Lt. Bob Kozlowsky of the Shelton, Connecticut, police department.

Kozlowsky's department is among those that have helped in the Newtown force in the days since the shooting -- days with a seemingly endless procession of funerals, with families trying to bear up under unbearable mountains of grief. Days with police work still to be done.

"We've sent officers, dispatchers, and even our chief of police has gone to Newtown to help out. We've helped with dispatching, traffic, miscellaneous calls. Our chief of police has gone to assist their chief of police with administrative duties."

Amid a world elsewhere of holiday festivities but with one community in Connecticut lost in shock and mourning, officers from towns with names such as Monroe, Brookfield, Danbury, Bethel and Milford have given Newtown the gift of their time and their work.

On Christmas Day, those neighborly officers will take to the streets of Newtown again. For a time, for a day, it can be Christmas for the officers of Newtown and their families.

"It's important to help out," said Officer Jeffrey Nielsen of the Milford police department. "We'll continue to provide help as long as they need it."

CNN's Laura Ly in New York contributed to this report.

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