Category Archives: Police

Beware Of Bicyclists. And Bicyclists: Beware!

Our long winter of  nor’easters is over (we hope). Spring is here. Up pop daffodils. Dandelions. And bicyclists.

Westporters are not always great at sharing roadways. An alert — and upset — “06880” reader writes:

My pet peeve is bicyclists in town and their road manners.

Today a guy headed north on Hillspoint towards the old Positano’s and Elviras. As I approached at a distance I briefly tapped my horn. When I came around him I was completely in the other lane, making sure I was more than 3 feet away.

I made a full stop at the sign. The cyclist blasted by me on the right without any attempt at stopping.

I hit the horn to express my displeasure. He offered a 1-finger salute as he weaved around the pedestrians, and ignored the Cadillac trying to turn into Old Mill. Here’s the video:

 

Westport Police are aware of the issue. They say: “Westport is here for everyone to enjoy. Let’s share the road and be courteous so cyclists, pedestrians and motorists can make it safely to their destinations.”

They advise bicyclists:

  • Ride where you are expected to be seen. Travel in the same direction as traffic. Signal and look over your shoulder before changing lanes or turning.
  • Riding more than 2 abreast is against the law, except in designated bike lanes. Those riding 2 abreast cannot impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
  • Wear equipment to make you more visible to others, like bright and reflective clothing. Outfit your bicycle with reflectors, a white front light and red rear light.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.
  • Obey all traffic rules and signs. Always give proper hand signals.
  • Always ride with the traffic — as close as possible to the right side of the road.
  • Ride in designated bike lanes when present.
  • Be sure the roadway is clear before entering.
  • Yield right of way to pedestrians.
  • Pass pedestrians and other bicyclists with care by first announcing “on your left” or “passing on your left,” or use a bell.
  • Slow down and look for cars backing out of driveways or turning.

Westport roads sometimes seem like this.

[OPINION] Don Bergmann: “Police In Schools Is A Mistake”

Alert “06880” reader Don Bergmann writes:

Following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook School Elementary School, Westport undertook and paid for many school security actions.

One first step was to hire the Kroll security firm to generate a school security report. No member of the public, no members of the RTM and, I believe, no member of the Board of Finance was permitted to read the Kroll report.

Well in advance of the report, the issue of police in our schools was raised and discussed.  Then-superintendent of schools Elliott Landon made it clear that he did not support police in our schools.

I believe that judgment was supported by the then-Board of Education, and most in Westport. I believe that judgment evidenced a conclusion that the presence of police in our schools sent the wrong message, and was inconsistent with the function and spirit of education. My recollection is that the idea of police in our schools was viewed as something that had no home in places of learning, youthful interaction and openness.

Our present superintendent of schools, Dr. Colleen Palmer, may be proposing to assign, possibly even hire, 5 police to protect, may I say “guard,” our students while in school. I believe the Board of Education may support Dr. Palmer.

I believe this proposal is an unfortunate reaction to contemporary events. It comes about in part, if not primarily, because of the assertions of parents of students that “we must do something,” and the willingness of the school administration to respond to such cries for action by introducing a police presence into our schools.

I believe an ongoing police presence in our schools is a mistake. I believe it conveys a new and troubling feel to our schools, to education and to the interactions of all who are present in our schools: students, teachers, administrators, nurses,  cafeteria workers, and all others who contribute to the effective and joyous functioning of our schools.

Dr. Landon concluded that there should be no police patrolling our schools. Dr. Palmer appears to have concluded otherwise. The Board of Ed will have to make the initial decision, though roles for the Board of Finance, the RTM and maybe the Board of Selectmen are almost certain.

It is also important that the Kroll report be re-read. It would also seem sensible for the RTM and other elected officials to have access to the report, at least as to the issue of police in our schools. That particular aspect of the Kroll Report should probably also be available to the public.

In making a decision, I believe the input of our nearly 1,000 school employees is relevant. I also believe the voices of our students should be heard. In all cases, those voices must not be allowed to be pressured into silence by the actions and words of those who are so fearful for their children they do not welcome dialogue.

My concern is not cost, even though the cost for 5 police in our schools is significant. Even without new hires, but rather redeployments, the cost is significant since officers will be taken from present areas of responsibility.

The present thinking  appears not to include the cost of 5 police in the proposed school budget for 2018-19. I believe that approach would be wrong.

This letter (somewhat longer) was addressed to the school administration and the Board of Education. However, I ask others to weigh in. The views of the RTM, Board of Finance — indeed, of all elected officials and citizens — are important.

Kudos!

Over 1,700 Westporters are still without power. Restoration continues slowly.

Wednesday’s storm — the 2nd in 5 days — took its toll on much of New York and New England.

But as we’re recovering from that double whammy, let’s realize how good we actually have it.

Our public officials and town employees really earned their pay this week. In no particular order, we owe huge thanks to:

Westport Police Department. They’ve been vigilant in responding to calls, assessing damage, helping work crews, and keeping the town safe and secure. They’re stretched thin — but every man and woman on the force responded. (NOTE to impatient citizens: Those traffic barricades are up for a reason. Click on the video from New Jersey below — but beware. It’s gruesome.)

Westport Fire Department. At the height of the storm Wednesday night, they answered literally hundreds of calls. From live wires and fallen trees to actual fires, they covered the town. They were often the first eyes on an incident, and they coordinated expertly with other town offices. On Thursday and through today, they’ve kept going. Their red trucks — and the firefighters on them — are a truly welcome sight. And they seem to be everywhere.

Public Works Department. They’re the guys who are actually out there, working all day and night. They plow the roads, remove the trees, and do all the other dirty work that enables the rest of us to carry on with our lives. It’s tough, demanding, physical work. And they haven’t had a break in days.

First Selectman Jim Marpe. He’s the man at the top. His calm, efficient yet commanding presence has inspired everyone else — at the emergency operations center, and in the field — to do their jobs. Jim believes in public service, and he makes sure every public official serves the town well.

Everyone else in emergency operations too. I don’t know everyone’s names. But quietly and effectively, they managed back-to-back storms with professionalism and care.

Superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer. She had to make difficult, irrevocable, damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t choices about closing school.  That comes with the territory. But she went above and beyond, communicating often and clearly about how and why she made those decisions. Today she threaded the needle — opening school, but not penalizing students for absences, and postponing all tests and quizzes. She “weathered” criticism with grace — and kept thousands of youngsters safe.

School maintenance staffs. They shoveled tons of heavy snow, and did all the other work, to ensure that schools could open today. They were there at the height of the storm. No one saw what they did — but today we noticed how much they did.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten other key men and women in town. If you know anyone I’ve missed, click “Comments” below.

Public Works takes care of downed trees. Police put up barricades. It takes a village to help our town weather 2 storms since last Friday. (Photo/Janette Kinnally)

Alert: Monday Morning Commute To Train Station, I-95 May Be Messy

The Westport Police Department says:

Due to electrical grid damage from Friday’s storm, and continuing repairs, it is anticipated that the intersection of Greens Farms Road/Bridge Street at Compo Road South may remain closed to traffic at least through the morning commute tomorrow (Monday, March 5).

No traffic will be allowed through the intersection of Greens Farms Road at Compo Road South.

Road closures will be in place at Bridge Street at Imperial Avenue, Compo Road South at Keyser Road, Greens Farms Road at Hillspoint Road, and Compo Road South at Elaine Road. Any destinations within this area will be accessible only to local traffic; all other traffic should must use detours.

Drivers traveling from all points south of the I-95 overpass on Compo Road South should follow Compo Road South to Hillspoint Road north to the intersection of Greens Farms Road. From this point, traffic will be routed either east on Greens Farms Road and/or north on Hillspoint Road.

Drivers traveling west on Greens Farms Road will be detoured north at the intersection of Greens Farms Road and Hillspoint Road toward Post Road East.

No westbound traffic will be allowed on to Greens Farms Road from the Sherwood Island Connector. This area will be accessible to local traffic only. All other traffic will be diverted north on the Sherwood Island Connector towards Post Road East.

Compo Road South will be completely closed to southbound traffic at the intersection with Keyser Road.

All southbound traffic on Imperial Avenue will be diverted west on Bridge Street. All eastbound traffic on Bridge Street will be diverted north on to Imperial Avenue.

The work may continue into Monday evening.

 

Gun Violence, Safety Sessions Set

Nationally, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre galvanized groups to act.

Locally, last week’s near-tragedy at Staples High School sparked quick action too.

WestportMoms — the great parents’ resources organization — is sponsoring “Make It Stop,” a gun violence protection forum. It’s this Tuesday (March 6, 10 a.m., Unitarian Church, 10 Lyons Plains Road).

Experts from CT Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and Sandy Hook Promise join Westport chief of police Foti Koskinas. Melissa Kane will moderate.

The event will be livestreamed; just follow “WestportMoms” on Facebook or Instagram. A dial-in number for people who cannot attend will also be available, via those platforms.

The event is free, and open to the public. To get a sense of the numbers though, attendees are asked to email info@westportmoms.com.

In addition, superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer has announced that the Westport school district will host an informational session on school safety and security. It’s set for Wednesday, March 14 (7 p.m., Bedford Middle School auditorium).

An overview will be followed by a question-and-answer session. First responder representatives will be there too.

PTA Thanks Cops

In a show of appreciation, the Staples High School PTA and Westport PTA Council treated the Westport Police Department to lunch today.

The card below says it all:

Unsung Heroes #37

In the aftermath of yesterday’s threatened shooting at Staples High School, there are a host of heroes.

Among them:

  • Superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer, and her central office staff
  • Staples High School administrators and counselors, who acted quickly and decisively, after receiving information about the threat from…
  • …A student who knew exactly what to do — and had the courage to do it — upon hearing of a potential threat
  • Staples teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, cafeteria workers — you name it — who had never practiced a “shelter in place” drill, but showed calm, caring professionalism all day
  • Staples students themselves. Though worried, they listened to directions, followed them, helped each other — friends and strangers — and made a difficult day as okay as it could be
  • Westport police, who raced to Staples, worked seamlessly with educators, and helped create a sense of order, security and safety. Police also…
  • … worked with Staples’ custodial staff, to ensure that the entire sprawling building was safe

  • The school system’s transportation coordinator, and everyone at Dattco. Drivers — most of whom live out of town — came in quickly from wherever they were, and helped coordinate an orderly early dismissal
  • First selectman Jim Marpe, who worked with Palmer and Police Chief Foti Koskinas to coordinate town efforts
  • The Board of Education, who were in the loop and supportive too.

There may be others I have missed. Everyone above will probably say, “I was just doing my job.”

Of course, that’s easier said than done. All did their jobs wonderfully. They did them together, as a team — with people they’ve worked with for years, and those they’d never met.

Westport averted a tragedy yesterday. It didn’t happen by accident.

It happened because we have an amazing town.

One filled with Unsung Heroes.

 

Westport Parent Explains “Grateful Tears”

A Westport mother writes:

My kids are in middle school and elementary school. Yesterday, I kept thinking of my son who is right next door to Staples, at Bedford.

Like many parents I’m so worried about our kids, going back to Newtown. Thankfully, yesterday’s outcome was as positive as it could be. I do feel for the kid who made the threat. It’s sad to see someone so troubled that they felt that this was a possible option.

I just brought my son to Bedford. I became teary, seeing a police officer out front and camera crews at the end of the Staples driveway.

They were grateful tears. Tears of relief seeing the officer. I was thinking about superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer, and the police caring about our kids so much. In that moment I felt so proud.

Trying to hide my own emotions, I asked my son if he wanted me to walk him in. With a shrug he said, “I’m fine Mom.”

He gave our dog a pat on the head through the back seat window, and off he went. Just like it was any other day.

Back to school, feeling safe and proud.

Watch Press Conference On Staples Incident Here

THANKS to the Town of Westport’s Facebook page for providing this video (livestreamed by Jonathan Kaner). It includes 1st selectman Jim Marpe, superintendent of schools Dr. Colleen Palmer, Staples High School principal James D’Amico, and Westport police chief Foti Koskinas. 

[UPDATE] Juvenile In Custody For School Threat

A juvenile is in custody, Westport police said this afternoon, after threats were directed at a teacher, and the entire Staples High School population.

Staples officials called police at 9 a.m. this morning, after the student was overheard stating he had “thoughts” of a mass shooting.

Police said they have found firearms belonging to the student’s father, and locked in a safe. More may be located.

Westport schools are expected to open on time Wednesday.