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.
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.”
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.
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?