Category Archives: Police

“We Love Our Dogs In Westport”

Westport Animal Shelter Advocates posted this on Facebook:

Last week at about 6:15 p.m., when the air was still very muggy with the temperature in the high 80’s, a group of diners (and Westport residents)  at Sherwood Diner became aware of a large SUV in the parking lot with a small dog inside — and New York plates. The windows were completely shut.

It was determined that the car had been there at least 45 minutes. A call was made to Westport Police, as Westport’s animal control officer was off duty.

Officer Wong Won and another officer (whose name we don’t know) responded quickly. The owner of the car was identified (mid-meal). She became belligerent and defensive, and stated, “this wouldn’t be an issue in Westchester.”

Officer Won responded, “Ma’am, this is Westport. We love our dogs in Westport.”

The dog owner was ticketed, and warned about leaving her dog in a hot car.

Westport Animal Shelter AdvocatesWASA would like to thank Officer Won and his fellow Westport officer for coming to this dog’s rescue, and handling the situation so beautifully. Tails are wagging all over Westport in appreciation.

Our thanks too to the Westport residents who were advocates for the little dog.

Yes, Officer Won, this is Westport. And we do love our dogs!

(Hat tip: Kendall Gardiner)

Cross At Your Own Risk

As construction on the North Compo/Main Street culvert continues, drivers are forced to use alternate routes.

A short stretch of Cross Highway has long been closed at Main Street. But that doesn’t stop impatient folks from using it.

Alert “06880” reader Susan Isenman was startled to see a car speed past her — and roar onto Main Street without stopping.

A while later she spotted a “friendly policeman” on Main, writing a ticket to a similar offender. He told Isenman he’d written 4 the previous day.

Cops hear all kinds of excuses. But — as the photo below shows — “I didn’t see the signs” won’t fly here.

(Photo/Susan Isenman)

(Photo/Susan Isenman)

Remembering George Marks

A bit of Westport died Thursday.

George Marks Sr. — the former police officer who marched, ramrod straight, in dozens of Memorial Day parades, and then rode with grace and dignity in many more — passed away in Norwalk Hospital. He was 96.

One of his greatest honors came in 2010. He and his son, George Marks Jr. — also a former police officer, who looked like he could have been his father’s brother — served as dual grand marshals of the annual parade.

At the 2010 Memorial Day ceremony (from left): First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, and grand marshals George Marks Jr. and Sr. (though it's hard to tell which is which).

At the 2010 Memorial Day ceremony (from left): First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, and grand marshals George Marks Jr. and Sr. (though it’s hard to tell which is which).

George Marks Sr. was born in Brooklyn. But he moved here with his parents at age 2, so calling him a “native Westporter” is no stretch.

He graduated from Staples High School on Riverside Avenue in 1938, then worked as a pressman for the Westporter Herald. In 1940 — as war loomed — he joined the Merchant Marine as a navigation officer.

His first ship left New York and stopped in Baltimore for refueling. While there, Marks became sick and was hospitalized.

Shortly after leaving port, the ship was hit by a German torpedo. All aboard were killed. Marks served on other ships crossing the Atlantic, loaded with troops and supplies. In 1944 he participated in the D-Day landing at Normandy.

George Marks Sr.

George Marks Sr.

Marks joined the Westport Police Department in 1948. He rose to the rank of lieutenant detective before retiring in 1974. He then joined Westport Bank and Trust as a security officer, continuing his familiar presence in town.

Marks was president of the Westport Fish & Game Club. He also was a life member of Temple Lodge No. 75 AF&AM, a member of the American Legion, an original member of Westport PAL, and a 20-year volunteer at Norwalk Hospital.

Survivors include 2 sons — George Marks Jr., who retired from the police department in 2006, and his wife Jacqueline of Seabrook, South Carolina, and William D. Marks and his wife Sandra of Missoula, Montana — his daughter Sandra M. Marks of Tucson, Arizona; 4 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

The family will receive friends tomorrow (Sunday, August 28, 4 to 8 p.m.) in the Harding Funeral Home. Graveside services with full military honors will take place Monday, August 29 (10 a.m.) at Willowbrook Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimers Association of Connecticut, 200 Executive Boulevard, Suite 4-B, Southington, CT 06489.

Friday Flashback #4

Today — dwarfed by a 40,000-square-foot office building — it’s hard to imagine that Gorham Island even is an island.

But the spit of land now joined to Parker Harding Plaza was once home to a gorgeous Victorian home. (Though — like many other structures in Westport — it apparently was built elsewhere, then moved.)

Gorham Island house

In addition to being a favorite subject for artists, the Gorham Island home was known for something else.

Early on July 4th morning of 1961, Brendan McLaughlin — a former Marine working as a New York advertising executive — shot and killed his father during a family argument inside the house.

McLaughlin fled.  An hour before dawn he burst into the police station on Jesup Road.  He pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired at 2 policemen behind the front desk, wounding Donald Bennette.

Officers chased him into the parking lot, where he shot officer Andrew Chapo.  A shootout ensued; McLaughlin was wounded.

Chapo and Bennette recovered.  McLaughlin died several weeks later.

Feral Cats Return To Compo

Nearly 2 years ago, a pack of feral cats caused havoc near Compo Beach. Finally, police and PAWS came to the rescue.

Now the cats are back.

A few weeks ago, a resident found a cat in his garage. They thought the cute animal was exploring.

But it never left — because it was nursing 4 kittens in the back of the garage.

A feral cat mother in the back of a Compo Beach neighborhood garage.

A feral cat mother in the back of a Compo Beach neighborhood garage.

The resident’s wife — who had volunteered for an animal welfare shelter in New York — knew she needed to get them help. She also had to act quickly: The beach home had been rented, and tenants were arriving in 3 days.

Dorrie Harris — co-founder of TAILS — arrived with another rescuer to safely remove the cats, which will be socialized and placed for adoption.

Dorrie told the homeowners that the cats were feral. Turns out, they came from the same Norwalk Avenue home as before.

Another neighbor’s cat was then attacked by a feral cat, and nearly lost an eye. Her owner is out $2,000 in veterinary fees.

The feral cat woman leaves food for the cats — and other neighborhood animals — with her porch door open.

A neighbor says she is breeding “bazillions” of kittens. They overrun porches and cars, and leave messes everywhere.

The feral owner has had issues with hoarding — and been helped by the town. Neighbors — who are sympathetic to her blight plight, but also fed up — find the cat problem tougher to solve.

Again.

Trump’s Thunder

Alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti graduated from Sacred Heart University in 1994.

When he heard that Donald Trump would speak at his alma mater — just 9 miles from downtown Westport — he decided to attend. His role, he says, was solely as “an observer.”

The rules were strict: No posters, banners, signs, professional cameras with detachable lenses, tripods, monopods, selfie sticks or GoPros. There was also “no dress code,” whatever that means.

JP was impressed with the professionalism of the Westport Police Department, part of the very tight security detail.

He also was surprised at the diverse demographics represented — including many folks he knows from Westport.

As Trump finished, JP says, thunder boomed. An announcement urged attendees to stay inside. JP took his chances with the weather, and sprinted through the downpour.

Here’s some of what he saw:

Plenty of vendors sold wares outside the Sacred Heart arena. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Plenty of vendors sold wares outside the Sacred Heart arena. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Part of the crowd, estimated at 5,000. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Part of the crowd, estimated at 5,000. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

A Donald Trump -- and Israel -- supporter. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

A Donald Trump — and Israel — supporter. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The Republican presidential candidate speaks. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The Republican presidential candidate speaks. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

This woman's shirt reads "HIllary You Suck." (Photo/JP Vellotti)

This woman’s shirt reads “HIllary You Suck.” (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Despite the sign, there was not a lot of respect inside Sacred Heart's William H. Pitt Health & Recreation Center, says JP Vellotti.

Despite the sign, JP Vellotti says there was not a lot of respect inside Sacred Heart’s William H. Pitt Health & Recreation Center.

Meanwhile, outside the Sacred Heart arena, a small “Love Trumps Hate” demonstration took place. Roy Fuchs took this photo:

(Photo/Roy Fuchs)

(Photo/Roy Fuchs)


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Life On The Roseville Road Curve

The Roseville Road home is just about perfect. Built in 1923 on 2 acres of grass and woods, it’s handsome, welcoming and filled with love.

It’s where Linda Gramatky Smith grew up, and her father, Hardie Gramatky — painter/author/illustrator of “Little Toot” fame — worked. It’s where she and her husband Ken still live today.

Linda and Ken Smith's lovely Roseville Road home.

Linda and Ken Smith’s lovely Roseville Road home.

But no place is perfect.

Linda and Ken’s house sits on the dangerous curve, not far from the McDonald’s intersection at the Post Road. Time after time — often in snow, or at night — drivers end up on the front lawn. In the woods. Or through their stone wall.

Hardie Gramatky moved his family there in 1947. From then through his death in 1979, with unfortunate regularity, they heard the loud bang of a crash.

Homer Mills Sr. — a local mason — told Hardie that the stone wall was “my annuity.” Twice a year, he rebuilt it.

The stone wall after a recent accident. Drivers hit it when they fail to negotiate the southbound (toward McDonald's) curve.

The stone wall after a recent accident. Drivers hit it when they fail to negotiate the southbound (toward McDonald’s) curve.

The night Hardie collapsed — he’d just been honored by the American Watercolor Society — the wall was hit again. “This has not bee an good day,” the artist said. He died 2 days later.

In 1982, Linda moved with her mother to New Jersey. She and Ken bought the house, and for the next 11 years they rented it out. They were gone, but the accidents continued.

In 1994 — a year after the couple moved back here, and into their home — a 17-year-old speeder from Weston slammed into the post. His air bag saved his life. Linda and Ken got one for their own car.

A humorous plaque on the side of Linda and Ken Smith's house.

A humorous plaque on the side of Linda and Ken Smith’s house.

When Joe Arcudi — Linda’s 1960 Staples High School classmate — ran for 1st selectman, he promised to do something about the dangerous curve. (He recalled driving fast on the same “Rollercoaster Road” as a rite of passage in his own youth.)

After Arcudi was elected, he and Police Chief William Chiarenzelli met with Linda and Ken. They discussed a stop sign on nearby Colony Road, and a speed bump (there had been one a while earlier on Roseville near Whitney Street, but it was removed after a driver took it too fast and hit his head on his roof).

Ultimately, they settled on a couple of very large yellow signs with big arrows. Those have been a “significant help” in decreasing the number of accidents, Linda says.

But they have not stopped entirely. On Memorial Day morning in 2013, Linda drove out of her garage and felt a bump. It was a large rock.

Looking around, she spotted a car upside down near the woods. Fortunately, no one was still inside.

A Memorial Day accident 3 years ago put this car into the Smiths' woods.

A Memorial Day accident 3 years ago put this car into the Smiths’ woods.

A 23-year-old from Fairfield had flipped his car the night before, taking out a tree and pushing a rock toward the garage. He’d walked to McDonald’s, where a friend picked him up.

“His insurance company was great,” Linda says.

A couple of Sundays ago, at 12:15 a.m., Linda, Ken and their 9-year-old grandson heard a screech, then a crash.

This time, it was a 20-year-old Westporter. He was charged with traveling too fast, failure to stay in the proper lane, and operating a motor vehicle under suspension and without insurance.

The aftermath of the most recent crash.

The aftermath of the most recent crash.

“It’s no longer every 6 months. But it’s still very scary,” Linda says. “People travel too fast. We constantly worry that someone may die.”

“This house has been part of Linda’s family for almost 70 years,” Ken says. “This comes with the territory.”

He has a ritual. When a guest leaves, he walks onto Roseville Road. When the coast is clear, he gives the driver a wave.

That’s not Ken’s idea. For decades, Hardie Gramatky did the same thing.


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Look around.* It’s easy to see drivers everywhere in Westport using their cell phones. Texting. Probably looking for Pokemon too.

It’s easy to think there’s no enforcement whatsoever of Connecticut’s no-cell-phone law.

That’s not true. I get the police reports. I know that every week, our cops hand out a dozen or so tickets for illegal cell phone use.

Now through August 16, they’re handing out a lot more.

Texting is so much more interesting than paying attention to the road.

Texting is so much more interesting than paying attention to the road.

The Westport Police is joining the state Department of Transportation’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” initiative.

For the 2nd year in a row, law enforcement agencies are adding special patrols to catch distracted drivers — especially those on their phones.

The last operation resulted in over 12,000 tickets throughout Connecticut.

At $150 for a 1st offense, $300 for a second and $500 for each violation after that, that’s a lot of money.

And — hopefully — a lot of lives saved.

(For more information on distracted driving, click here.)

*But pay attention to the road!


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Keys To The Cops

Losing your car keys is a hassle.

But back in the day, a replacement cost only a dollar or two.

Today, a new “fob” can run a couple hundred bucks.

Back in the day, when you lost your car keys you’d post signs in your neighborhood.

Now, you can post an item on “06880+.”

But there’s an even better alternative.

In the lobby of Westport Police headquarters sits a plastic container filled with 2 or 3 dozen lost keys.

Lost keys

Many Westporters don’t know about this low-key but effective public service.

So the next time you lose your keys, don’t call the cops.

Go to Jesup Road headquarters yourself. Of course, you’ll have to call someone for a ride…


Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Westport Police Open “Citizens’ Academy”

Across the country, police-citizen relations are in the news.

Westport cops have a great reputation. But they want to do even more to help folks understand the reality of their lives.

A Citizens’ Police Academy begins September 8. Up to 24 Westporters will take law enforcement classes from local police officers. They’ll also participate in ride-alongs, and earn CPR/AED certification.

Classes meet every Thursday (7-9:30 p.m.), for 9 weeks.

I’ve done a ride-along. It was a fascinating experience.

The course seems educational, intriguing, and very valuable. It’s open to all Westport residents 21 and older. For more information, including an application, call Jillian Cabana: 203-341-6009.

Westport Police