BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Community has always been important to Bridgeport Police Officer Kateema Riettie. It's something that was instilled in her as a young girl growing up in Jamaica.
“Coming from Jamaica and coming here, I never took anything lightly within the community,” Riettie said. “In Jamaica, when you live in a community, everyone knows each other. And if an adult tells a kid to do something and their mom is not there, they have to do it, because their mom is gonna hear about it.”
She feels privileged to have had such a strong upbringing and also having “a strict Jamaican mother,” who helped shape her into the adult she is today.
Riette carries that strong sense of community with her, which is displayed in her many activities in Bridgeport.
She has done volunteer work at her church, mentored a girl and coached track at Central High School.
Additionally, Riette is a physical training instructor at the Bridgeport Police Training Academy, where her PT classes are popular. Even Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganin has exercised in her PT program a number of times.
She also teaches a fitness class at the police academy on Mondays and Wednesdays for people who work for the city of Bridgeport.
The West Indian American Association of Greater Bridgeport recently honored Riettie with its Making A Difference — Outstanding Community Service Award for all her community work.
The award was designed to honor people who are making significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents and dedication (outside of any volunteer work done for their employer), according to the group's website.
“I felt good receiving the award, because it was the Caribbean community that had recognized me,” Riette said. “You know, I’m giving back to them.”
Riette believes that everyone should make an effort to give back to their community.
“I always say if you have time to give back, you should give a little of your time,” she said.
In addition to her job as a police officer and many community activities, Riette is a top competitor in the javelin throw.
She won her seventh Jamaican National Championship in javelin on July 3 and fell just 12 meters short of qualifying for the Jamaican Olympic Team for the 2016 summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Riette also won two NCAA Track and Field Championships in javelin while a student at Southern Connecticut State University.
“I love the sport, and it keeps me in shape,” said Riettie, who's 42. “It also gives me chance to meet different people and travel.”
She attended Central High School in Bridgeport, graduating in 1992. She went to college at Southern Connecticut State University and graduated in 2003.
Riettie, who joined the Bridgeport Police Department in 2007, said that mutual respect between law enforcement and the community is essential.
“You, know being a cop, I always follow the motto that you should always treat everyone how you’d like to be treated,” she said. “And that’s what our new chief's motto is as well.
"You can’t judge everyone how you see things, so you have to look into the situation. It doesn’t matter what class they are from, you always should treat everyone the same."