Category Archives: Police

Cops Collect Toys For Tots

As the holiday season roars into overdrive, we’re (happily) overwhelmed with ways to help the less fortunate. All across town, organizations do their part to bring a little joy to those who truly need it.

“06880” can’t mention all of them. But if you’re looking for one particularly worthy cause, here it is.

The Westport Police local union and Police Benevolent Association are holding their annual toy drive. Each year, they distribute thousands of gifts to children who otherwise would have none, in Fairfield County and beyond. It runs through December 16.

Collection boxes for new, unwrapped toys are set up at several locations:

  • Police headquarters, 50 Jesup Road, 24 hours a day.
  • Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • ASF Sports & Outdoors, 1560 Post Road East, store hours.
  • Whole Foods, 399 Post Road West, store hours.
  • Renato’s Jewelers, 1765 Post Road East, store hours.

In addition, police officers will be in the ASF parking lot the next 2 weekends (December 10, 11, 17, 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to accept toys and cash donations.

And to personally thank you for your generosity.

Westport Police

 

Tina Wessel Service: Time Change

The time for the funeral service for Tina Wessen — the well-known local homeless woman who died recently — has been changed, to accommodate arrivals from out of town.

The new time is 2 p.m., on Friday, December 9. The site is Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, in downtown Westport.

Meanwhile, the Westport Police — who helped secure medical services for Tina’s cat — have released this photo of her beloved pet:

tina-wessen-catThe cat is now safe and sound.

Tina’s Cat

Following the sad death of Tina Wessel — the homeless woman well known by nearly every Westporter — many “06880” commenters expressed concern for her beloved cat.

Third selectman Helen Garten reports that — thanks to great work by the Westport Police Department and Animal Control — the cat was found, and is safe.

Schulhof Animal Hospital is temporarily boarding Tina’s pet.

Westport Animal Shelter Advocates is soliciting donations for the cat’s medical examination and care. President Julie Loparo writes:

WASA thanks the Westport Police Department, particularly Chief Foti Koskinas; Animal Control officer Gina Gambino; Dorrie Harris, co-founder of TAILS; the staff of the Senior Center, particularly Tom Saviano, and the staff of Schulhof Animal Hospital for working together to humanely “trap” and provide care for Tina Wessel’s cat.

Westport Animal Shelter Advocates

The cat is calmly waiting in his/her crate for an exam. It is wonderful to live in a town with the compassion to want to do right by one of its long-term residents. This joint effort ensures that Ms. Wessel’s cat won’t be left to fend for itself.

WASA, with the kind assistance of the Schulhof staff, will oversee the cat’s care. When the time comes, it will secure a home for Ms. Wessel’s friend and furry family member.

If you would like to assist WASA with this effort, please visit www.westportwasa.org and click “Donate.” Please note on the form that you are donating in memory of “Tina’s cat.”  WASA is a 501c3 organization.

Many Westporters want to do something to honor Tina’s memory. This is one way to help.

tina-wessen-cat

Tina’s cat. (Photo courtesy of Westport Police Department)

Kids Dodge Cops At Staples

Across America, tensions are high between police and the communities they serve.

In Westport, cops and teenagers squared off tonight.

It was all in good fun — and for a good cause.

Westport Youth Commission member Colin Corneck sports a "Collaborative" t-shirt.

Westport Youth Commission member Colin Corneck sports a “Police and Youth Collaborative” t-shirt.

Staples’ Teen Awareness Group, Youth Commission, PAL and Westport Police Department sponsored the 5th annual Dodge-a-Cop tournament, in the high school fieldhouse.

A few hundred kids and a few dozen cops played dodgeball against — and with — each other. There had to be at least 1 officer on each team.

Cops and kids listen to instructions, before the massive tournament began.

Cops and kids listen to instructions, before the massive tournament began.

It was a great, bonding event. The money raised — from entry fees and food sales — went to the Chris Lemone Fund, in honor of the Staples outreach counselor who died last year.

It was a night to show off Westport’s finest.

And by that I mean: everyone who was there.

Police chief Foti Koskinas is flanked by dodgeball players Det. Sgt. Sereneti Dobson and Lt. Jillian Cabara. The referee (front) is Det. Sharon Russo.

Police chief Foti Koskinas is flanked by dodgeball players Det. Sgt. Sereneti Dobson and Lt. Jillian Cabara. The referee (front) is Det. Sharon Russo.

Stephen Rowland, Reid Rizack, Spencer Daniels and Max Zimmerman get ready to rumble.

Stephen Rowland, Reid Rizack, Spencer Daniels and Max Zimmerman get ready to rumble.

Dodgeball is not just for guys and cops!

Dodgeball is not just for guys and cops!

Police officers and everyone else: Watch out for Kenny Brill!

Police officers and everyone else: Watch out for Kenny Brill!

Everyone wants to know who's in the lead.

Youth Commission and TAG members keep score.

Ready! Aim! Fire!

Ready! Aim! Fire!

Winslow Park Hit By Smash-And-Grabs

Last month, Westport was jolted by a series of home break-ins in Greens Farms.

Now, it’s cars being hit at Winslow Park.

An “06880” reader reports that at least 5 windows have been smashed — and personal belongings stolen — while people walk their dogs nearby.

She loves Winslow Park because of the community she’s found there. An eclectic group of dog owners welcomed her in (and invited her to their “Yappie Hour”).

This summer, she became aware of the “smash-and-grab” break-ins. They occurred in the Westport Country Playhouse lot.

A month ago, a woman who parks in the small North Compo lot was hit.

It happens in broad daylight, with people coming and going with their dogs.

Winslow Park. Smash-and-grab thieves have made dog walkers bit fearful.

Smash-and-grab thieves have made Winslow Park dog walkers a bit fearful.

The “06880” reader suggests surveillance cameras. She also thinks that cutting down bushes would help make cars more visible to passersby. Of course, it’s common sense to not leave anything of value on your car seat or floor, visible to anyone.

Notices have been posted on the “Winslow Park Small Dogs & Friends” Facebook page. The reader says that publicity is essential. More people need to know this is happening — and the thief or thieves must know that people know.

“Winslow Park should be a happy place for everyone,” she says. “Not a place of fear.”

Follow The Cops!

Back in the day, you needed a scanner to keep up with police activity.

Now all you need is a cellphone.

The Westport Police Department has created 3 social media accounts. They’ll include arrest reports, road closures, hazardous conditions, upcoming events and press releases.

You can like and follow the cops on

Kim Kardashian: Eat your heart out!

Police - Town of Wp home page

Jeff Pegues: “Black And Blue” In America Today

As justice/homeland security correspondent for CBS News, Jeff Pegues has special insight into the police/community relations crisis that’s dominated American headlines for the past couple of years.

As an African American man, he’s got a different — but very important — perspective too.

Which is why the 1988 Staples High School graduate’s new book — Black and Blue: Inside the Divide Between the Police and Black America — is such a crucial addition to this national debate.

Earlier this week — in the midst of tracking down sources for the still-developing Russian-presidential-campaign-hacking story — Pegues talked about his project. We had not spoken for 3 decades — I was his youth soccer coach, before he became a Staples football star, earned a scholarship to Miami University in Ohio and rose through the broadcast ranks to WABC-TV news, then 3 years ago CBS national news — but he was eager to chat.

Jerff Pegues, reporting for CBS News.

Jerff Pegues, reporting for CBS News.

His parents grew up in the Deep South — Montgomery and Birmingham — during the heart of the civil rights movement. He’s related on his mother’s side to Rosa Parks.

During his 25 years in the news business, Pegues worked on many law enforcement stories. He’s developed strong relationships with police officers, commanders and federal investigators.

As he covered a string of police shootings – from Ferguson through Tulsa, Charlotte and more — he realized he was in a unique position.

“It’s important to dispel myths, and get all sides of the story in one place,” Pegues says.

“With Twitter, Facebook and other social media, people get information from sources they agree with. They reinforce their opinion. They don’t question it.”

He admits, “I’m not Shakespeare. But I know how to interview people, and get honest answers. That way everyone can see the issues, study them and start to solve problems.”

jeff-pegues-bookSpeaking with hundreds of subjects — officers, police chiefs and union leaders, community activists, even FBI director (and fellow former Westporter) James Comey — Pegues offers an unbiased view from both sides of the cop-community divide.

Police speak about the pressure to enforce laws, involve themselves in social issues and work in neighborhoods that have been neglected for years. Black citizens talk about confrontations that have happened for decades; finally, they say, there is proof that they are being singled out, harassed, even killed.

A police chief remarks that officers feel there are targets on their backs. “I thought, ‘a lot of African Americans feel the same way,'” Pegues says. “But they can’t take that ‘uniform’ off.

“I want the truth out there,” he adds. “Folks in the black community need to understand stop-and-frisk. Cops need to talk about the disrespect they feel in some communities, as they try to help. There are good people on both sides.”

However, he adds, despite similar concerns about issues, “in this politically charged atmosphere, there’s not a lot of listening.”

Pegues plays it right down the middle. “I have friends and family on both sides,” he says.

Jeff Pegues

Jeff Pegues

Writing about a subject with new headlines nearly every week — though  the book will not be published until spring — is not easy. For example, Pegues says, earlier this week the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police apologized for historic mistreatment of minorities by police. That came too late to include in Black and Blue.

But stories like those will bring readers to his book. Once there, Pegues’ clear, coherent and constructive approach to cop/community relations will draw them in.

And — whether they are police officers, black activists or any other American — Jeff Pegues’ book will get us all thinking.


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!

 

UPDATE: Police Detain Burglary Suspect

A break may have come in the spate of break-ins in Westport homes.

Minutes ago, the Westport Police announced that a suspect has been identified in connection with recent burglaries. That person is in custody for crimes committed in nearby towns, and has confessed to Westport burglaries.

Arrest warrants are pending, and an investigation is ongoing. Westport detectives are working with area departments that have experienced similar incidents.

Meanwhile, police advise residents that Greens Farms and the Easton Road sections of town have experienced burglaries, as well as reports of suspicious people knocking on doors, telling fabricated stories about an internet posting or broken-down vehicle. This is believed to be a tactic for suspects to identify unoccupied residences.

Police ask Westporters to call 203-341-6080 with reports of suspicious activity, or information about recent incidents.

Westport Police

 

Attempted Break-Ins Jolt Town

An alert — and concerned — “06880” reader writes:

Your “feel-good” story about Minute Men Cleaner’s return of money contrasted with the not-so-feel-good story of an attempted break in at my residence last Friday — which apparently is not an isolated incident. I share with you the story, hoping that readers will be careful to observe any suspicious activity and contact the police with any information.

Last Friday early afternoon, I left my house for 2 hours, then returned to Greens Farms.  All seemed normal.

I let my dog out, and noticed wood on the ground. Then I saw fresh wood on the door molding. My first inclination was that an animal did this.

I quickly realized though that someone (or a group of people) had tried breaking into our house while I was gone. I called the police. When they came, they said a number of other houses were hit around the same time.

They took photos, info, etc., and mentioned we were lucky to have a deadbolt on our door.  They said the crow bar that was apparently used was no match for the deadbolt.

A deadbolt helped deter the burglars. Here's what the door frame looked like afterward.

A deadbolt helped deter the burglars. Here’s what the door frame looked like afterward.

Hopefully our dog also started to bark. We do have a house alarm. It was activated but not triggered, since the intruders failed to enter.

This whole experience is very unsettling. My family has lived in 3 houses in Westport for 6 years. I have been married for almost 20 years, and have never had anyone attempt to break in to any of our homes.

We know we are fortunate not to deal with a break-in during the middle of the night, or even during the day. However, this left us feeling very violated and frustrated.

Westport PoliceNeedless to say, my children were surprised to see police when they got home from elementary school. I explained what happened. My son was more excited than scared, and couldn’t wait to bring this to “share” come Monday.

My 7 year old reacted very differently. She said, “I feel sick and scared.” I did everything to reassure her she is safe, and that the police will work on capturing the criminals.

When I told friends in the area what had happened, a woman told this story:

One morning last week, 2 youths rang my doorbell. I thought they were selling magazines. My dog was going crazy, so I didn’t open it wide or talk long.

They said they were looking for an address. I tried to help, but they hustled off.  For some reason it felt ‘off’ to me all weekend. It was weird that they didn’t say ‘thanks,’ and one of the guys was really smiley, like he knew he was being deceptive.

I closed the door and thought, which is unlike me, that these guys were casing the house, that I was grateful to have been home, and also to have my dog going crazy at them.

As I finished typing this, I just found out that a number of police cars were out in my neighborhood today, near the Post Road. Was it another attempted break-in?

Sad that we have to say and do this — but please be alert and lock your doors. Set your alarms if you have them.  Please call the police if you see anything.  Hopefully whoever is doing this will be caught.

P.S. A shout-out to local company Jake the Locksmith. They came to our house  the same day to see if the integrity of the door was compromised. Great service!


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!

Railroad Parking: Less Is More

The other day, an alert “06880” reader asked if the recent renovation of the train station’s westbound parking lot (#1) resulted in the loss of any spaces. (He was pretty sure it did.)

I did not know the answer. But I knew who would.

Foti Koskinas — who as Westport’s police chief is also responsible for railroad parking — responded (as usual) almost immediately.

He said: Yes. The original plan would have meant 6 fewer spaces. When another exit was added, an additional 2 were lost.

During the project however, realignment of spaces and crosswalks added 2 back. So the 1st number stands: There are now 6 fewer spaces than before.

The reason for the loss, Foti noted, is that the old lot was non-conforming to current regulations. Spaces were too narrow, resulting in many dented doors.

Pre-renovation: an aerial view of train station parking lot 1 (center).

Pre-renovation: an aerial view of train station parking lot 1 (center).

But Foti added lots (ho ho) more information. And it’s all good.

Throughout the summer, the Police Department examined every parking area. New spaces will appear, sometime before the holidays:

  • 12-14 additional parking spots in Lot #2 (the smaller westbound lot, just up the hill from Lot #1 and Luciano Park)
  • 8 new spots on Park Street (coming down the slight hill from Exit 17, opposite the old Blu Parrot/Jasmine/Arrow restaurant)
  • 15-17 more spots on one side of Franklin Street, under I-95
  • 54-60 additional spots in Lot #7, off Franklin Street (due to leases the town took over from the state — not easy, but they got it done!).

But wait! There’s more!

The department has contacted the next 150 commuters on the wait list. They’re in the process of getting their permits.

And more permits may come, once the projects in the bullet list above are completed.

Now, if only Metro-North could respond as quickly and efficiently as the Westport Police…

Click on or hover over to enlarge this railroad station parking map.

Click on or hover over to enlarge this railroad station parking map.