Thank You, Foti & Sam

The bad news: Police Chief Foti Koskinas is retiring, effective Thursday. So is his right hand man, Deputy Chief Sam Arciola.

The good news: Both will be retained under contract. Koskinas will serve  through October 22, 2024. Arciola serves through December 31, 2022.

The two men — whose steady, passionate and compassionate leadership has earned praise and trust, at a time when police departments nationwide face enormous criticism — will receive full retirement benefits. Koskinas became eligible in July; Arciola has been eligible since 2016.

However, says 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, “at this sensitive time in the evolution of police accountability and responsibilities at the national and local levels,” a change in leadership could be disruptive.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas (center), Deputy Chief Sam Arciola (right) and officer Ned Batlin, at a Staples High School “Dodge-a-Cop” event. Police officers and Staples students played dodgeball, with and against each other.

He notes that while members of the WPD leadership team are “well on theier way to stepping into the chief and deputy chief roles,” they need more time to develop “the full range of skills and community relationships” to be successful.

The contract relationship, Marpe says, will benefit Westport from a continuity standpoint, and financially.

Koskinas began his Westport police career in 1996, 6 years after Arciola. They were promoted to their current positions in 2016.

Koskinas calls himself “honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to work with and for the town of Westport. Aside from my family, the last 27 years have been some of the most exciting and gratifying times of my life, while serving and working alongside members of this community. I am confident that we will have continued successes as we navigate through some difficult times in our country, and certainly in law enforcement.”

At the 2017 July 4th fireworks, Police Chief Foti Koskinas gave Ben Kiev a seat on his motorcycle.

He has had several offers, from the public and private sectors. However, he notes, “I never pictured or imagined myself wearing a uniform other than that of the Westport Police Department. I sincerely look forward to the opportunity to continue serving Westport for another 3 years.”

Both Koskinas and Arciola love their work. They have made the Westport Police Department stronger and more effective — and by doing so, have made Westport a better place.

Full disclosure: I have known Koskinas since he was a Long Lots Junior High School student, newly arrived from Greece and knowing no English.

I’ve known Arciola — and his extended family — even longer. The Arciola name is revered in Saugatuck.

I watched both with pride and gratitude over the past year. The two men — and others on the force — worked with Black Lives Matter leaders to make sure that last summer’s protests were safe and respectful. At the same time, they did not shy away from acknowledging that police departments everywhere have work to do.

Similarly, Koskinas and Arciola ensured that other rallies — for Asian Americans, the LGBTQ community and, most recently, housing fairness — were peaceful yet powerful.

Chief Foti Koskinas with Black Lives Matter protesters, last June. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Much of their work takes place in the public eye. Much also takes place far from it. Here’s one story that demonstrates how Foti Koskinas and Sam Arciola operate.

A few months ago, a memorial bench went missing from Compo Beach. Relatives of the man the bench honored were distraught.

Two days later, Koskinas called to tell me it had been recovered, I asked who the officers were, so I could thank them publicly. He said — reluctantly — that he and Arciola were involved.

However, he asked that I keep their names out of it. He wanted the entire force to be recognized.

Sure, the chief asked not to be mentioned. But that’s the kind of men Foti Koskinas and Sam Arciola are: caring, hard-working, genuinely dedicated to their community.

Besides, what’s he going to do? Arrest me?

8 responses to “Thank You, Foti & Sam

  1. Police chief Koskinas gave me faith in life at a very low point in time. Never met a police officer as compassionate, an exceptional human being Grateful for his kindness and strength of character. We have all been blessed to have him in our lives. I wish him abundant joy in his retirement and for his family. Grateful he has served in an exemplary manner benefitting all our lives. Whoever may fill his shoes will have stepped into a place of honor. Tears of parting leads to joy for his accomplishments. Heartfelt thanks

  2. Chief Foti and Deputy Chief Sam have led by example for so many years. They are amongst the first to jump in for every great cause being driven in town. They are incredible role models and set an awesome tone for the whole Westport PD. Many don’t really understand the work involved, whether something around racism or bias or drug running through Interstate 95, the Merritt or Post Road right through Westport. We only see the clean town and beautiful beaches and think it all must be easy. It isn’t easy, and they have had incredible role model careers. This town is greatly better for having them here. Thanks for all your work and dedication to town over your long careers. What an awesome idea by Jim Marpe, as times now from Covid to all else are very challenging. We know how important the leadership is in Westport, and it is not a time to rock the boat with change just yet. Thanks Chief Foti and Deputy Chief Sam for sticking with us a bit more, we need ya!!!!

  3. The compassion, character and temperament exemplified by these two men must be required qualifications for those who aspire to assume their two critical trusted positions. Unfortunately those qualities are not as easily discerned as passing grades on exams; rather they are built during life’s challenges, with a foundation in childhood guided by strong family influences.

    And WE as a community have reaped the rewards of their two families.

    Although generational differences are too often a reality, hopefully we will find two other men or women with similar attributes to meet the gold standard that these two have set.

    Dr. J

  4. Thanks Sam and Foti! I appreciate your service very much and glad to hear you will stick around a while longer. Having deep roots in the community you serve has been a great benefit to Westport and creates a special bond with those you protect. I’m proud to say I’ve known you guys for 35+ years and will be sad to see you go. An end of an era. Thanks for your long dedication and to a job well done. Great pic of Ned, Sam and Foti. Cheers

  5. Janette Kinnally

    A huge thank you to both of these amazing men who represent the Blue – and absolutely do a stellar job. I can recall several times seeing them in action and especially remember Sam “Sammy” from high school through now and can say he is a great example of what you want your kid to turn out to be like in the future. This is going to be a big loss for our town. So glad they will be consultants for a little longer until they bring in or prepare the best people for their jobs!!! They will be a very tough act to follow. Thanks for everything you have done for Westport!!! Truly exemplary men of service.

  6. Hopefully, these two most unusual and gifted officers will have a large and determinative role in choosing their replacements. Not often, in the position of authority with gun and night stick, do men of Koskinas’s and Arciola’s character, open mindedness and compassion come along. Their departure from our police department is an almost insurmountable loss.

  7. Very glad to see these men leave, sooner than later. Though some of their contributions to the community have been positive, its crass how much theyve misspent our tax dollars on Teslas, tanks, and guns. Not to mention the expensive and invasive drone surveillance program that everyone was so quick to forget about. Very troubling, and shows a lack of good judgement from Foti/Arciola who were directly responsible. Not to mention the numerous high school kids the WPD officers have overly agressively manhandled/beaten/tasered theough the years. Overzealous/selective enforcement of the drinking age was the excuse I believe. And does anyone else notice they only ever seem to pull over certain types of people from certain types of nearby urban areas when they come to Westport? Makes you think. I hope the future leaders of the police department will show more financial/operational restraint and hopefully sell some of these toys.

  8. I’m sad to read your post, Martin. You throw out a lot of very nasty allegations in there. As for the high school students, I imagine it must be very challenging to try to hold these kids accountable, when many of them feel as entitled as they do. I’ve never heard about police stopping “certain” people more than others. That’s a very loaded accusation. Where is your data coming from?

    I have a great deal of respect for both of these men, and I am glad that they will be staying on to ensure a smooth transition.