Since June 1981, Lt. Stephen Bartek has been a familiar face of the Wilton Police Department. After he punches out today, he’ll begin a new journey—that of retirement.
The 51-year-old lieutenant and Bethel resident, who turns 52 later this month, has been working here his entire adult life. He says the job exists in “an environment that shapes you as a person.”
“It’s just been positive for me since day one, not so much because of the job but because of the people who are here,” Bartek says. “I think very highly of them and plan on keeping in touch. The character of the people here—I don’t know where you’d find them anywhere else.”
Bartek has enjoyed the interaction with all sorts of people over the past three-plus decades. The good and the bad.
“One of the things that attracted me was dealing with all kinds of people, different people,” he says.
It’s actually Stephen Bartek III, and the lieutenant followed in his father’s footsteps when he joined the Wilton Police Department.
“There was an overlap there of some 16 years,” Bartek says of serving alongside his father, Stephen Bartek, Jr. “Between the two of [us, there’s been] 50 years of the department that at least one of us has been here.”
Bartek says he never served directly under his father and didn’t work side-by-side with him, either, during their years on the force together.
“Obviously it’s a small department—you’re going to interact with him,” he says. “I was never under his command directly.”
Bartek corrects himself.
“I take that back,” he says, laughing. “I was under his command because I was his son, and I remember that quite clearly growing up."
"But not here,” he adds.
When asked if any particularly calls or cases stand out from his career, Bartek says he thinks of the job more in terms of familiar faces.
“Nothing is coming into my head as far as anything bad or anything good,” he says. “It’s more of a general feeling walking out the door—the associations that you made with a lot of good people that help you through life. Emergency service is one of those jobs. It attracts good people. That’s my experience—people that want to help. It’s good company to be in.”
Bartek’s father joined the Wilton Police Department when the younger was three.
“Pretty much my whole memory is having Dad in the house and he was a policeman,” he says. “He conducted himself and his personal life to a high moral standard. I think everybody wants to mimic their parents to some degree. He was definitely a strong influence in my coming into this work.”
Bartek has three adult children, two daughters and a son—none of whom are in law enforcement.
When asked if that upsets him, Bartek laughs and smiles.
“It’s not for everybody.”