Unsung Hero #148

On Sunday, Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas delivered a brief but passionate speech.

Addressing a few hundred people on Jesup Green — a local response to the murder, a few days earlier, of George Floyd  — Koskinas read a statement condemning the Minneapolis police officers.

Then he went further. He apologized personally to the Floyd family, for the way their loved one was treated by police.

It was a defining moment, and drew sustained applause. But many in the crowd were not surprised. They were Westporters. They know their chief is honest, straightforward, a man of integrity and conscience.

The crowd the next day was less familiar with Koskinas.

Unlike Sunday’s protest, Monday’s took the Westport Police by surprise. But — led by Koskinas — they were ready. They acted professionally, providing an escort across the Post Road bridge, and watching quietly as several dozen massed in front of the police station.

Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas helps the group cross Jesup Road.

Then — surrounded by the crowd — Koskinas spoke.

He talked of his personal disappointment in his law enforcement colleagues in Minnesota. “I marched with you,” the chief said. “This was not a publicity stunt.”

Some people jeered.

“I’m a first-generation immigrant. I came here not knowing a word of English,” Koskinas — who came to Long Lots School in 7th grade from Greece — said. “I was a minority.”

Chief Foti Koskinas with protesters, on Monday. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The chief said he was devastated “by what happened in Minneapolis — by that officer, and 3 others who did not act.”

Koskinas — who at one time wanted to be a lawyer, but turned to law enforcement after taking a criminology course in college — added that he is even more devastated when the public is afraid of the police.

Someone interrupted him again. He continued, talking about systemic issues in American society. Koskinas cited our health system too. “Black people don’t get the same type of care” as white people,” he said.

This time, no one jeered or interrupted. Instead, the entire crowd cheered.

There are many ways to lead. Chief Foti Koskinas’ does so with both words and deeds.

In a week when some police departments are under scrutiny, our chief is our Unsung Hero.

(Hat tip for video and inspiration: Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Westport Police Chief Fotios Koskinas (Photo/Dan Woog)

 

24 responses to “Unsung Hero #148

  1. We are very fortunate to have Foti as our Chief of Police.

  2. That’s beautiful. Brings a tear to my eye. So proud and fortunate to live here.

  3. Foti is the best. Smart, logical, and just a nice guy.

  4. One of the many people who make Westport a great place to live and raise a family. Foti’s a keeper. We’re lucky to have him, particularly at a time like this, when cooler heads must prevail and truth is a prized commodity. Well done, Chief.

  5. He has always impressed me! That’s the kind of man he is. Westport is fortunate to have him !!

  6. Bill Mitchell

    Great words Dan Thank you

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. Michael Calise

    No Doubt Foti is the BEST!

  8. Chief Foti leads with compassion, intelligence and a passion to make Westport the best version of itself. Thank you Dan for recognizing him as a Westport gem.

  9. Chuck Greenlee

    Well said Dan about a first class human being!!

  10. Dan,

    While I offer my sincerest thanks for honoring me as an unsung hero, I would certainly be remiss in my duties as chief of police if I did not humble myself in response to that distinction. Any honor that can be deemed as a measure of our success as a public safety organization is made possible by the diligent work and steadfast commitment of every single sworn member and civilian employee of this department; all of whom collectively embrace the ideals that I wish to define us. A special thank you is also owed to Deputy Chief Sam Arciola and the members of my command staff, all of whom have been a valuable source of direct support for me in these recent difficult times and throughout my tenure as Westport’s Chief.

    Thanks

    Foti

  11. Every time I’ve had a question on local laws and policies, I’ve called the Westport Police station.

    (Like if the contractor who upped his bill $2,500 in the middle of the job left his 3 dumpsters in my tiny driveway til I paid him more, could I just donate them to Good Will?; or who goes 1st when 4 BMWs arrive at what seems the same time at a 4 way stop? And do I have any course of action if the person behind whoever decides to be #1 also zooms past other than honking at him/her for, oh, maybe a 1/4 mile or so?)

    I have always gotten prompt, respectful and accurate answers to my questions, serious questions and maybe not so serious questions.

    I read on 06880 that some Westport people were afraid to go downtown because they “heard” we were being targeted my outside agitators pissed at wealthy towns..

    They were reacting to apparently false information that seemed to come from legitimate town sources that we rely on for local current information.

    There is so much false, stir-the-people-to-fear-and-anger information out there in these troubled times.

    May I suggest that if anyone reads warnings that sound wonky, they call our local police station to confirm before getting scared and spreading that fear based on caca information.=

  12. Tracy Damianos

    Kudos to Chief Koti!!!

  13. Elaine Marino

    I felt saddened to hear one of the protesters claim that Foti’s words and actions were a “publicity stunt.” It seems that a general sentiment among many young people today is that ALL law enforcement officers are corrupt, racist, not to be trusted, etc. I hope that after listening to the impassioned words of our caring police chief, protesters who may have held these sentiments walked away with a different view. We are so lucky to have Foti in our community.

  14. Totally agree he is one of the town’s treasures. Yet another piece of the picture that makes w Westport such a great place to live

  15. Foti, Sam and all the Blue of Westport is simply an amazing crew. They are a huge reason why this town is so freaking great… A lot more goes on behind the scenes so we can see what’s in front… huge thanks to Chief Foti and the team, right on Dan!!!

  16. Joyce Barnhart

    I am always happy to see reports of “Staples Kids” who have gone on from Westport’s school system to do amazing things out in the world. Chief Koskinas is doing well while he is doing good.

    Foti was Class of ’89, and before their 30th Reunion last year, he advised his corps that they might have to deal with many approximately 48 year old people behaving badly and using his name. I’m not sure how that turned out.

  17. Stacie Curran

    Dear Foti, Thank you, thank you, thank you. You make life better…………Daily, you do, and give of yourself to many. You are our Hero & Treasure & Life Preserver. You address issues, no matter how small, with heart, with passion, and compassion.

  18. Michael Isaacs

    Protesters want action, not words. I don’t know the answer, but is there even one black police officer in Westport? I haven’t seen one. If not, why not?

  19. Our Police Chief ,is a Class Act “”

  20. Our Chief is a great man with a good, smart, level head. Westport is very lucky to have him during these trying times.

  21. We are so fortunate to have Foti here in Westport. He’s more than just a great police chief — although that in itself is a gift. He’s also a great guy, with a real understanding of what it means to be a leader. Thank you Foti, for being you!!!

  22. Bruce McFadden

    Congratulations Foti!
    So proud of my former Staples student!!

  23. Michael Don Sullivan

    Hello Dan! Thank you once again for your extraordinary work and the opportunity to comment on Chief Foti Koskinas! I hold such good memories of Foti and then Chief Dale Call’s near daily visits to Oscar’s Deli. Foti took the position of Chief shortly after I left. Five years later I still realize how fortunate Westport is to him as our Chief! And proud to call him a friend!

  24. Alexandra Berman

    I haven’t written a poem in a few years. However, with everything going on in the world right now in regards to George Floyd’s tragic murder, I wrote a poem titled “A New Spring”.

    Equality.
    Shrouded in a misty disguise of propaganda
    But immediately wake up.
    Wake up to the alarm of red sirens blaring throughout the streets trying to reflect their lasers on the next black victim
    And conquer their lives in the span of 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
    It’s cyclical.
    This constant fear inundating the black community.
    This constant slaughter of black women, black men, black children.
    This constant systematic oppression subjecting black individuals to pain, anger, and injustice
    Their bodies filling up the streets that we walk on.
    And we have merely been fighting it at the surface. Like skimming through the pages of a school textbook. Because of our privilege.
    Meanwhile black individuals are shuddering because they are fearful of being the next target.
    Now, young people are speaking up like flowers blooming in the spring.
    White and black hand united at the fingertips.
    And I just pray that this spring will bloom brighter than ever before.
    But praying won’t do any justice. So I will act.

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