Category Archives: Police

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.)

Remembering Chris Hoffmann

Chris Hoffmann — a 2004 Staples graduate, active member of the Air Force Reserves and a Watchung, New Jersey police officer — was killed on Saturday in a motorcycle accident in that state. He was cut off by an unlicensed driver, in an unregistered car. Chris was 5 days short of his 29th birthday.

His family and many friends are devastated. His sister, Alexis Green, says, “the world has stood still.”

Christopher Hoffmann: proud police officer, family member and all-around great guy.

The many faces of Christopher Hoffmann.

Before joining the Watchung force, Chris was a special officer in Seaside Heights, and an aircraft mechanic at McGuire Air Force Base.

“My brother was finally at the point in his life where he had achieved everything he wanted,” Alexis says. “He had his dream job, and was looking into buying land to build a home. He was an amazing uncle and godfather to my 2 children. My heart aches for my brother. I would do anything to have him back.”

Vanessa Woolard — who attended Staples with Chris, and worked with him for 5 years at Swanky Frank’s — calls him “beyond an amazing person. He had a heart of gold. On the worst days at work, Chris had the ability to brighten anyone’s mood.

“I have silly memories, like trying to fry anything we could get our hands on — avocado, ketchup…  But Chris would always stay late to help me clean, and never got mad if I messed up an order. His compassionate and genuine nature were something the world will not be the same without.”

“Chris was an all-around nice guy,” adds Staples graduate Stephanie Halka.

“He was the type of friend that’s hard to find. Chris and my brother had a crew of 8, and a bond that can never be broken.”

(A Facebook page in his memory is titled “Justice for Officer Chris Hoffmann.” To leave an online condolence note, click on ColonialFuneralGroup.com.) 

Uncle and godfather Christopher Hoffmann, with Edmund Lloyd Green IV.

Uncle and godfather Christopher Hoffmann, with Edmund Lloyd Green IV.

 

Michael Barrett’s “Shoshana”

Authors are always told: “Write what you know.”

So why does Michael Barrett‘s 1st novel involve neo-Nazis protecting a Treblinka guard, now resettled in the US; a beautiful Mossad agent, and a professor named Morris?

Because — in one way or another — they’re all part of Barrett’s very intriguing life.

Michael Barrett (right) and friend.

Michael Barrett (right) and friend.

After graduating from Fairfield University as an English major, he spent 23 years with the Westport Police Department. He served as a detective, worked on the auto theft task force, and was a sketch artist who helped colleagues around the state nab rape and homicide suspects.

Barrett retired in 2000. He now owns a security firm, and consults with businesses like Mitchells. He also paints portraits, and plays jazz sax and flute.

The ex-cop was a longtime friend of the late Fairfield philosophy professor Morris Grossman. Barrett has always been interested in the Holocaust, and — though he’s not Jewish — he learned a lot of Jewish history from Grossman.

Including Treblinka. The detective spent years researching that Nazi extermination camp.

ShoshanaHis debut novel is Shoshana. Its intricate plot includes — in addition to “Morris” and Treblinka — a cop named Artie. He’s an accomplished portrait painter, who becomes a police composite artist.

The book is set in “Westcove,” Connecticut. Clearly, Michael Barrett has written about what he knows.

The book jacket says, “Artie confronts issues of morality, revenge, and the meaning of Jewish suffering through the ages.”

Just another day in the life of an ex-Westport cop.

(For more information, or to order Shoshana, click here.)

Driver Does Nice Thing. Pass It On.

Alert “06880” reader Cary Peterson writes:

Not long ago a card was left on my windshield, apologizing for accidentally scuffing my rear bumper and leaving a phone number. I never called Charles, just dabbed a bit of dealer pen paint onto the blemish on my bumper to see it disappear.

Note

Last week I took a key I found on Imperial Avenue (which had a tag saying SRC food trailer on it…Saugatuck Rowing Club?) to police headquarters, and added it to a pile of keys they have sitting on the counter. Many people have returned keys to the police station. There were loads of expensive electronic car keys there. I guess people aren’t aware of it.

Anyway, despite bad parking jobs, I think Westport’s cup is more than half full, with many people cleaning up the streets and building castles in the sand.