Category Archives: Police

Westporters Enable Car Thieves

The Westport Police Department wants to make life hard for car thieves.

Unfortunately, too many residents make it too easy. 

The WPD says:

Early this morning, 2 vehicles were stolen from the Hillspoint Road area. Two others were broken into. Credit cards stolen from one vehicle were later used in Stratford.

All vehicles were believed to have been unlocked, with keys left inside the vehicles.

Another vehicle was stolen over the weekend. It was also unsecured, with the keys left inside. All incidents are being investigated by the detective bureau.

Please steal my car!

Despite multiple warnings over the last few years, residents continue to leave valuables and keys in their unlocked vehicles. As long as residents do not heed these warnings, thieves will continue to target our area.

We ask everyone to remove valuables from their vehicles, take their keys with them, and lock their car doors every time — whether holiday shopping downtown, parked at the gym, at the dog park or in their own driveways.

Residents are urged to participate in the “9 PM Routine.” This national public service campaign is a simple, effective way to prevent theft. It includes removing valuables from vehicles, locking car doors and bringing keys inside.

Take a few extra moments during your nightly routine to make sure the doors to your home are locked, your garage doors are secure, and exterior lights are turned on.

Help us prevent burglaries and theft in our community, and protect your home and property. For more information on the 9 PM Routine, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

Kids Dodge Cops

Over 100 Staples High School students spent 3 hours last night dodging the police.

It was hard to tell who had more fun: the kids or the cops.

This group of dodgeball players was going for the win — and the Best Costume award. (Photo/Lily Williams)

The event was the annual “Dodge a Cop” dodgeball tournament. Organized by Staples’ Teen Awareness Group and the Westport Youth Commission, in collaboration with Westport’s Police Department — and held in the dodgeball-friendly fieldhouse — it raises scholarship funds for Chris Lemone’s children. The founder of TAG died 3 years ago, age 49.

Police chief Foti Koskinas (2nd from right) joined in the fun. (Photo/Lily Williams)

Twenty-four teams competed. Each included at least one police officer. Staples staff and community members served as referees.

Staples’ popular resource officer Ed Wooldridge (far left) also joined a team. (Photo/Lily Williams)

Despite an evening of hurling balls at each other, no arrests were reported.

Lefty Pendarakis (center) gathers his team (including a police officer, right) for pre-game strategy. (Photo/Lily Williams)

Hey, girls play dodgeball too! (Photo/Lily Williams)

It wasn’t easy dodging these cops. But it sure was fun. (Photo/Westport Police Department)

Winslow Park Warning

Alert — and upset — “06880” reader Fran Bresnan writes:

My car was broken into yesterday in the Winslow Park parking lot on Compo Road.

I arrived at 1 p.m. Twenty minutes later, when I returned to my car, the passengers window had been smashed. My purse and briefcase were taken from the car.

Apparently, others there at this time said, this happens frequently.

I’d like to warn everyone going there to leave valuables at home. This was not a crime of opportunity. Apparently the same thing happened last week, and others have said “frequently.” Someone knows the drill and is watching the parking lot.

Perhaps some video surveillance or an increased police presence might be a deterrent?

After the car break-in.

Photo Challenge #200

Security cameras have become so ubiquitous, we don’t even notice them.

So it’s not surprising that last week’s Photo Challenge — showing more than half a dozen cameras on top of a building — drew guesses of spots all around town.

The train station? Levitt Pavilion? Police station? Town Hall? No, no, no and no.

The cameras in question (click here to see) are located atop Joey’s by the Shore — the Compo beach concession stand. Andrew Colabella and Michael Calise — longtime and constant beachgoers — were the first 2 readers with the right answer.

But why would a beach restaurant need security cameras?

Andrew explained:

In the summer of 2016 there was a serious spike in vandalism, break-ins, driving on the beach, and illicit and suspicious activity. Lifeguard chairs were dragged into the water, Joey’s was broken into, and money was removed/stolen/missing from the gate.

In the past before that, boats had been burglarized and the lifeguard shack was broken into.

These cameras — along with many others strategically placed in and around the beach — record and are viewed by town employees in the Parks & Rec and Police Departments. The technological ability of these cameras is astonishing.

Since then, illegal activities have dropped dramatically.

So be cool out there. Big Brother — or at least the town — is watching.

Here is this week’s Photo Challenge:

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

If you know where in Westport you’d see this hand-sprayed “No Parking” sign, click “Comments” below.

And if you know why someone painted it there — in a seemingly legit parking spot — we’d like to know too!

UPDATE AND CORRECTION: Alert: Nixle Replaces Code Red

NOTE: The earlier version of this story said to “dial” 888777 from your mobile phone. You should TEXT that number to sign up. My apologies!

For the past 4 years, the Westport Police Department has used Nixle to provide traffic advisories.

Now, the WPD and Westport Fire Department have partnered with Nixle to offer a Community Notification System. Residents can sign up to receive localized emergency situation and relevant community advisories.

This system replaces the CodeRED emergency notification system in use here since 2009.

All alerts are targeted geographically, allowing residents to receive localized, relevant alerts from the Fire and Police Departments.

Nixle sends out immediate emergency notification — for instance, for flash flooding downtown. (Photo/Jacques Voris)

Nixle sends info via text, email, voice, web, and social media in an instant.

Town officials say residents and business owners should not assume your number is registered.

To sign up, dial 888777 from your mobile phone. Then text the zip code: 06880.

You can customize your alert setting by logging on to www.nixle.com, and creating a User Profile.

Do it today. You don’t know when the next emergency will strike.

(Hopefully not tomorrow. The last 2 Tuesdays have been brutal. Perhaps the 3rd time will be charm.)

Distracted Driving Event Set For Saturday

It’s a recent, and potentially fatal, phenomenon: a car crashes into a tree or telephone pole. It’s the middle of the day — often in fine weather — and there are no other vehicles around.

The cause is almost always distracted driving. And the driver can just as easily be an adult as a teenager.

Meanwhile, for decades, many other accidents — at all times of day — have been caused by impaired drivers. Those under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be any age too.

Staples High School’s Teen Awareness Group wants to do something about it.

This Saturday (October 13, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Staples football field), the club hosts a Distracted Driving event. It’s free, and open to all high school students.

Plus their parents, and any other interested people.

Drivers can be distracted by texting, as well as by alcohol or drugs.

The State Police will be on hand with a simulator. Attendees can experience first-hand the power of an impact by a moving vehicle — this time, fortunately, in a safe, controlled environment.

Westport police officers will create an obstacle course and other simulations. Using special goggles, participants can experience the effects of substances on depth perception, coordination, decreased reaction time and impaired decision-making.

You can also take a field sobriety test.

TAG has organized this Distracted Driving Day with support from the Westport Youth Commission and Westport Police-Youth Club.

It’s an important event. Drive safely — there, back and always.

(NOTE: Attendees should park by the Staples fieldhouse and pool. Staples boys soccer’s 60th anniversary celebration will fill the parking lot by the soccer field and baseball diamond.)

Coffee With A Cop: A Great Stop!

There was a heavy police presence this morning at Aux Delices.

It’s all good.

Westport Police celebrated Coffee With a Cop day, at the popular downtown spot. Alert — and caffeinated — “06880” reader Jo Shields sends this photo of Officer Scott Thompson (sporting the WPD’s special pink breast cancer awareness patch), Office Mark Grasso and Westporter Ligia Brickus.

Jo reports:

Officer Thompson commented how nice it was to meet everyone who stopped by. I thought it was great to have a stop for coffee — not a traffic stop! We are so lucky to have such caring and competent members of our police force.

Conversations included officer commutes (Fairfield is lots easier than Milford!); raising 3-year old boys; little old ladies and kids being more comfortable approaching cops when they’ve got their motorcycles; finding time to sew the patches; the NY, PA, DC 9/11 Ride, and who gets to drive that pink Maserati this month!

In addition to the pink shoulder patches, Aux Delices provided pink-topped coffee cups, also for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It was a fun event, with lots of smiles all around.

That’s the ticket!

Coffee With A Cop

It’s an enduring stereotype: Cops eat donuts.

Some members of the Westport Police Department very well may. Others may not.

But our police are not caricatures. They’re great, hard-working, community-minded men and women, each with an individual story. Sometimes that gets lost in stereotypes.

Westporters can get to know a few of those individuals next Wednesday (October 3, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., Aux Delices, 44 Church Lane). The WPD is participating in “Coffee With a Cop” — a national initiative to strengthen bonds between officers and local residents.

Westport Police do plenty of other community outreach: K9 and “Officer Friendly” outreach in schools and daycare centers; youth activities like Dodge-a-Cop and bowling; teen and adult Citizens’ Police Academies, and an ice cream social on Jesup Green.

Aux Delices is a perfect place for Wednesday’s casual get-together. They serve great coffee, and an extensive breakfast menu.

No donuts, though.

Westport Police: Pretty In Pink

The Westport Police Department is a longtime supporter of breast cancer research. Every October, they find an innovative way to raise awareness of the deadly disease.

A couple of years ago, for example, they tooled around town in a pink Maserati.

This year they’ve turned their patch from familiar blue to powerful pink.

Throughout October, officers will wear the patch.

All month long too, they’re selling the pink patches to the public as a fundraiser. The cost is $10 each, at police headquarters (50 Jesup Road). All proceeds will be donated to Pink Aid of Westport.

Unsung Heroes #67

It’s hard to come up with new ideas for a 6-year-old’s birthday party. But Dylan Rosen has had great interactions with Westport police officers. So on a whim, his father Frank asked the Westport Police Department if his son and friends could get a tour of the station.

The WPD said, “sure!”

But as 17 boys and their parents walked in to police headquarters, Rosen had doubts. “Who drew the short straw?” he wondered.

Officers Daniel Paz and John Margnelli did. But for them and their guests, it was anything but a chore.

“They could not have been any warmer or more genuine,” Rosen reports. “They completely overextended themselves.”

Officer Daniel Paz lets Rosen “ride” a police motorcycle.

First, Paz — who served 2 deployments in Iraq — told the kids, “You can’t come in this police station without a badge.” Then he handed he one a sticker badge.

He showed the group everything from dispatch and the detective bureau to the garage with police bikes, tactical defensive gear and holding cells (the boys and girls remarked on the lack of privacy and televisions, and noted there would not be much to do in there).

Paz and Margnelli — who was a homicide detective, SWAT operator and community police officer in Florida before coming to Connecticut — ended the tour by showing a police motorcycle and car.

There was no talk or evidence of weapons anywhere with the kids.

Away from the children though, parents saw the gear officers use in a SWAT situation, and the heavily armored vests and helmets needed to stop an AR-15 round.

What was most impressive, Rosen says, was “the kindness of our officers, and the lengths they went to to give each child (and adult) an opportunity to ask questions. They never ran out of patience.”

At the end of the tour, Paz and Margnelli learned the group was headed next to Westport Pizzeria. So they gave the youngsters an escort.

“The kids were skipping the whole way there!” Rosen says.

The start of a police escort to Westport Pizzeria.

“It’s important that our children know these are real super-heroes,” he adds. “These are the brave people we call on every day. They leave their homes and families, to come to work and protect ours.”

Thanks, Daniel Paz and John Margnelli, for going above and beyond a few days ago for an admiring group of 6-year-olds — and for all of us, 24/7/365.