Category Archives: Police

What So Proudly We Hail!

The Jesup Road side of police headquarters sports a new look:

Police station flag

Police Chief Dale Call says it was loaned by a veteran who wishes to remain anonymous.

“He is proud to have served, and is a big supporter of the service done by our military and law enforcement every day,” the chief explains. “We’re proud to display it.”

The flag will hang — proudly — through Memorial Day.

Temple Israel: “We’ll Keep Doing Good Work”

Today — 3 days after the frightening intrusion during a luncheon program — Temple Israel president Steven Phillips issued this statement:

We at Temple Israel are grateful for the outpouring of community support we have received after this week’s incident with the intruders at our congregation.  Many of you have asked us to share our reactions to the ongoing conversation around this sad event.

Common sense tells us that 2 men do not travel from New Haven to politely read a statement to a small, private luncheon. Rather, their goal was to do exactly what they did: to create a disturbance, to distress our community, and to get themselves and their message in the press.

Steven Phillips

Steven Phillips

Our community has already paid a high price. Those attending the luncheon,  our families, and especially our children, whose safety was and must be our first concern, were made to feel unsafe in our congregation. And now, too much of the precious community resources we rely on to communicate with and connect to one another are being devoted to giving the intruders what they crave: attention.  They’ve had their 15 minutes; let’s focus on what really matters.

The police report speaks eloquently to the facts, and the court will establish its truth. The responsibility for the incident belongs solely to the intruders. The police and our staff responded magnificently and exactly as they were trained, and fortunately, there were no injuries. Now is the time to let the judicial process do its work and make certain that these 2 men, and these 2 men alone, suffer the consequences of what they did.

That is what we at Temple Israel intend to do, while we continue to make sure that our community is safe, and that we keep doing the good work that we and all our neighbors in Westport do every day.  There is no better or more principled way to respond.

Police Report On Temple Israel Confrontation; Temple Guest Thought She Might Be Killed

The Westport Police Department issued this statement this afternoon:

Today at approximately 1 p.m. the Westport Police Department received a complaint from Temple Israel about unwanted people protesting at the property. Shortly after the initial dispatch to responding units, the communications center started to receive additional calls reporting that a person had a gun. The first 2 arriving officers were able to take custody of the two individuals on the 2nd floor meeting room where staff had physically detained them.

Daniel Fischer was 1 of the 2 men arrested in the Temple Israel incident today.

Daniel Fischer was 1 of the 2 men arrested in the Temple Israel incident today.

During the initial response, Coleytown Middle School, Coleytown Elementary School, the pre-school at the Unitarian Church and the Temple Israel Nursery were put into lockdown until officers were able to clear the buildings.

No gun was located during the incident, but a witness had observed one of the men approaching with a shirt over his arm and hand which led some witnesses to believe he was carrying a gun. Westport officers were assisted by the Weston Police Department during the incident.

During the investigation it was learned that the Temple was hosting a talk with members of the Israeli Defense Force. The 2 suspects had arrived to protest the IDF. They entered the building and were confronted by staff and told to leave.

Gregory Williams was also arrested today.

Gregory Williams was also arrested today.

The 2 suspects refused and walked past staff, and attempted to enter the meeting place. Temple Israel staff had to physically prevent them from entering the meeting room.

As the 2 were detained outside the meeting room it was reported that they were shouting various statements regarding the IDF. The actions of the 2 protestors created enough concern to the attendees that several people had exited the premises in fear for their safety.

The 2 suspects claim to be college students protesting the IDF. A vehicle which witnesses reported as dropping them off has been located and the person has been identified. He will not be charged with any criminal charges.

The following individuals were arrested: Daniel Fisher and Gregory Williams. Both are 25 years old, and live in New Haven. Both have been charged with criminal trespass 1st Degree and breach of peace 2nd degree 53a-181(a)(3). They were issued $1500 bonds, and will appear May 21 at Norwalk Court.

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Meanwhile, Stephanie Bass wrote in a comment on the 1st “06880” report of the incident:

In the middle of speeches, there was a loud disturbance. I couldn’t tell how many people, but they were banging on the door to the room, yelling either “Justice for the Palestinians” or “Freedom for the Palestinians.” There were 80 women in the room. People started screaming “Get down!” and “Call 911!” Women ran to the back of the room, or ran out a back door.

The “Palestinian” ranting went on. I was waiting for the machine gun fire. First I thought, I could die today; then I thought if many people die today, I don’t want to be one of them.

Temple Israel

Temple Israel

I’d been in Israel during the ’73 war. I thought of Newtown and that movie theater in Colorado. I dove under the table. After a few minutes, the Israeli Brigadier General grabbed my hand. She said it was okay to come out; personnel at the temple had subdued the men.

This did not feel like political protest. This felt like terrorism.

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Temple Israel president Steven Phillips added these thoughts, in an email to members:

As some of you may have heard, an incident occurred at Temple Israel as our congregation was hosting a luncheon for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.  At no time was any one in physical danger.

Two unarmed young men appeared at the door and noisily attempted to gain entry to the luncheon and disrupt its proceedings. Their intent appears to have been to protest and create a disturbance. They were confronted by executive director Lisa Goldberg, then detained by director of member engagement Bryan Bierman, Cantor Dan Sklar and Rabbi P.J. Schwartz, and others. The Westport Police Department was called and officers responded immediately.

The 2 men are now in police custody. A thorough search of the intruders, our building and our grounds by police found no weapons of any kind. To ensure our safety, the police will remain at Temple Israel and maintain a presence throughout the rest of today and into tomorrow.

The police have advised us that we can safely continue with our day as planned.  We will therefore hold our scheduled religious school classes, TI High, Confirmation and any programming we have planned for this evening.

Westport PoliceOf course, we will continue to follow up with the police as they look into this matter. We believe that the response of our staff and Westport Police Department was exemplary. As we learn more about this incident, we will continue to work with the Westport Police Department to ensure that our security procedures keep everyone safe. In the meantime, if you have questions, please feel free to email me or to contact the Temple office.

These incidents are always extremely disturbing. Fortunately, no one was in danger. I would like to thank the staff and the police for the poise and professionalism with which they handled the situation. We are very lucky to be served by them both.

More Winners Ahead In Railroad Parking Game

Last week, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a change to the railroad parking permit process. From now on, anyone added to the wait list will pay a $35 fee (one time — not annually, as reported in the Westport News).

Of that fee, $15 is kept by the town. The other $20 goes to the company managing the online system.

Alert “06880” reader Bart Shuldman wondered why the vendor gets more than we do.

Foti Koskinas — the deputy police chief who also serves as director of railroad operations — was happy to explain.

The town’s portion will go toward capital repairs needed at Westport’s 2 stations. Each is projected at more than $1 million — for infrastructure, drainage and the like.

The $20 collected by the online provider goes to programming, maintaining and updating the database.

train station parkingKoskinas stressed that the fee will be assessed only to newcomers joining the wait list. The 1650 folks already on it — now maintained on an Excel spreadsheet — will not be charged. They’ll be processed at no cost.

Koskinas says Westport will be the only town in the area where residents can access the list, see exactly where they stand, and add or remove names. Those on the wait list will also receive 2 or 3 email notifications each year, showing how far they’ve moved up.

Yes, “each year.” The current wait is close to half a decade.

But the process will be much smoother now, Koskinas says — and quicker. Now, when notices are sent out that a permit is ready, the response rate is low.

That will end soon. It’s your — or someone’s — $35 at work.

 

Dozens Of Staples Students Dodge Cops

Occasionally, Westport kids run from cops. Tonight, they ran toward them.

And threw dodgeballs at their heads.

The cops threw them right back.

In fact, cops and kids were on the same team. They played with and against each other, in the Westport Youth Commission’s annual “Dodge a Cop” event. Staples’ Teen Awareness Group co-sponsored the event.

Dodgeball kids 2

The dodgeball tournament — held in the Staples fieldhouse — drew over 100 students. They came from every social group: athletes, actors, robotics team members, you name it. The English department had a group of teachers.

Each of the 31 teams had at least 1 police officer. Talk about someone having your back!

Each player paid $5 to participate. The money goes to Homes With Hope.

That’s a big 10-4.

Basketball players...

Basketball players…

Staples Players (the actors) ...

… Staples Players (the actors) …

teachers...

… teachers…

... and police officers all had a great time tonight, at the Youth Commission's annual "Dodge a Cop" event.

… and police officers all had a great time tonight, at the Youth Commission’s annual “Dodge a Cop” event.

 

 

 

Stop, Thief! Thief Stopped!

Whenever we can, “06880” likes to provide public service. We also like to follow up on our stories, and tie up loose ends.

This post does all that.

Last month, a man who epitomizes the word “slimeball” posed as a wedding guest at the Inn at Longshore. He stole an ornamental bird cage used to collect congratulatory cash and checks.

He might have thought that was a bright idea. But he was not bright enough to realize there were video cameras in the lobby.

Longshore suspect

After “06880” — and many other media outlets — published photos of this lowlife, citizens responded. The Westport Police received “numerous” tips, identifying Frank Burnett of Mansfield, Connecticut as the suspect.

Our detectives did their job. They learned Burnett had attended a different Longshore wedding weeks earlier, and returned to commit the crime.

Burnett surrendered to Westport police yesterday. He was charged with larceny in the 4th degree, and posted $2,000 bond.

Frank Burnett

Frank Burnett

No word on whether the newlyweds have gotten their gifts back.

 

 

Have You Seen This Man?

The Westport Police have released this photo of a suspect in a very scuzzy robbery Saturday:

Longshore suspect

On Saturday evening, a man took a birdcage containing an undetermined amount of wedding cards — with cash gifts — from a wedding reception at Longshore.

The man — who posed as a guest of the reception or hotel — loitered in the lobby, talking on the phone, before grabbing the birdcage and fleeing on foot from the Inn.

Police set up a perimeter and conducted a thorough search of the grounds, with the assistance of a Norwalk Police K-9. Only the empty birdcage was located.

The suspect is a white male 25 to 35 years of age, clean shaven, with light brown hair (close cropped). At the time of the incident he was dressed in grey slacks, a white or light gray shirt and white undershirt.

If you have information regarding the suspect, call Westport Police at 203-341-6000.

 

 

Marine Police Make A “Swell” Save

Today’s Westport Historical Society kayak trip to Cockenoe Island was not exactly a day at the beach. WHS executive director Sue Gold writes:

Our 5th annual trip was hardly smooth rowing, as we quickly found out once we were a half mile offshore.

The swells were high, even though no boats were in sight. We were about 25 strong, but although the spirit was willing, Mother Nature was not.

The scene from a previous Westport Historical Society kayak trip to Cockenoe Island. This year's weather was less pleasant.

The scene from a previous Westport Historical Society kayak trip to Cockenoe Island. This year’s weather was less pleasant.

Our 2-person kayak was overwhelmed by relentless waves. Though both of us are strong and seasoned boaters, we were captive to the water that quickly filled our boat. We were forced to evacuate, fortunately onto a nearby sandbar.

We were like drowned rats, cold and shivering in the water with a boat we had no way to bail out. Peter Jennings expertly handled his safety boat to get us out of the water, but it was Bob Myer of the Westport Marine Police Unit who saved the day.

He got the kayak in his motor boat, pulled us on board, covered me with a medical blanket (my teeth were chattering), and got us back to the marina safe and sound. He then went out and rescued others on the tour as well.

Everyone got back safely. We applaud the Westport Police Department, who are there in a heartbeat to provide the most caring, compassionate and exceptional service to all in need.

One of the Westport Police Marine Unit's 2 boats. (Photo/Westportct.gov)

One of the Westport Police Marine Unit’s 2 boats. (Photo/Westportct.gov)

PS: Once we got back and my partner tossed me the car keys from the boat — well, they never made it into my hands. They now lie on the bottom of the Sound.

Fortunately, a diver overheard our dilemma and said he’s happy to take a look next week and fetch them for us. The giving never stops.

Feral Cats: The Sequel

The infestation of feral cats in the Compo Beach neighborhood may be over.

According to Foti Koskinas — Westport Police Department deputy chief who, as one of his duties, oversees animal control — told “06880” today that he and several others are helping the homeowner who, to the dismay of neighbors, has provided food and shelter for up to 30 feral cats.

The owner is “working hard to do the right thing,” Koskinas reports.

Four cats have already been removed, and will be spayed. Then they’ll be relocated, away from the neighborhood.

When feral cats multiply, it's no day at the beach.

When feral cats multiply, it’s no day at the beach.

The owner is also collaborating with PAWS. That organization will trap 5 more cats, spay them, and relocate them to farms and barns.

The woman has agreed to feed only her personal cats — not strays — and to do so inside her home, not outside. She will also give up 1 rescue cat for adoption.

“We’re committing to helping her in any way we can,” Koskinas says. “The neighbors are helping too.”

Several neighbors contacted “06880” to offer praise for Koskinas, PAWS and the homeowner.

Sounds like a problem that — in more than one way — is almost “fixed.”

Safe!

You wouldn’t know it from the traffic whizzing by, drivers on cell phones, and bicyclists and runners who think nothing of exercising at 5 a.m. wearing all dark clothes, but Westport is one of the safest places in Connecticut.

There are only 2 safer municipalities out of all 37 with populations of at least 10,000, in fact. (They’re Darien and Greenwich. You had to ask.)

That’s the conclusion of Movoto, an online real estate brokerage that takes such surveys in an attempt to get publicity in places like blogs.

Hey, it worked.

Westport PoliceThe Movoto folks collected crime data from 2012 in 7 categories: murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and vehicle theft. They weighted crime rates so that murders, violent crimes and property crimes accounted for 30 percent each of the overall score, and total crimes made up 10 percent.

Westport had just 26 vehicle thefts, 1,014 thefts and 150 burglaries in 2012. There were 41 violent crimes “per 100,000 people,” though our population is 1/4 that.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe applauded Police Chief Dale Call and the rest of the Police Department, for their “presence, professionalism, skill and expertise” that are displayed every day.

“I am personally proud and grateful that the protection of all our citizens is the number one priority of this first class department,” he added, from the safety of his 3rd floor Town Hall office.

PS:  Connecticut is the 11th safest state in the nation. But it still makes sense to lock our doors.

(Here’s the link to the full “10 Safest Places in Connecticut” survey.)