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Foundation started to benefit Watertown police officers, local community

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  April 25, 2013 02:45 PM

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Jaclyn Reiss for Boston.com

A nonprofit foundation has been created this week to fund supplementary programs for the Watertown Police Department not covered by their town-dictated budget, as well as local community efforts, foundation organizers said.

The fledgling Watertown Police Foundation, Inc. will be headed up by Jay Darby, who formerly worked on the Boston Police Foundation.

The Watertown Police Foundation has already collected about $3,000 in donations this week, Darby said, and profits from the "Watertown Strong" shirt sales will also be donated to the fund.

Already, hundreds of the shirts, which feature a Watertown Police insignia, have been sold nationwide in the last 24 hours, organizers said.

"We know people are trying to find a way to express gratitude to the police department," Darby said. "There has been an outpouring of support."

The foundation will use its donations to fund programs for Watertown officers focused on issues like suicide prevention and helping police through traumatic events.

"First responders face a tremendous amount of stress in their job, and have higher-than-average rates of suicide, alcohol abuse, or other stress-related issues," Darby said. "Watertown police were involved in a huge shootout. People going through that experience might be traumatized. We want something in place to give them a sense of support."

Darby said funds could also be used for the local community, citing a Boston Police Foundation program that helps give local teens paid summer internships to keep them off the streets.

As the Watertown foundation leaders work to set up the organization, anyone wishing to make a donation can do so at Watertown Savings Bank, or by buying a "Watertown Strong" shirt, Darby said.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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