Tag Archives: Chief Foti Koskinas

Hundreds Unite Against Racism

Jesup Green — Westport’s historic site for anti-war, gun violence and other protests — drew several hundred people of all ages to another, this afternoon.

Organized in less than 48 hours following the national reaction to the death of George Floyd, it was as passionate as any in the past. But — coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — it also marked the first large gathering here since mid-March. Masks were mandatory. Speeches were short.

But the message was powerful.

Organizer Darcy Hicks noted “the tension between wanting to stay home and keep the community safe, and the bubbling need to do something.”

RTM member Andrew Colabella and civic activist Darcy Hicks.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas read yesterday’s statement from his department condemning Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis officers.

Then he went further.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas (far right) with, from left, TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. The town’s other 2 selectman were there too.

He apologized personally to the Floyd family, for the way their loved one was treated by police.

“I am never embarrassed, and always proud, to wear this uniform,” Koskinas said. “But Mr. Floyd’s death was devastating to this department.”

He then introduced Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport chair. The head of the town’s multicultural committee said that for every George Floyd, there are “thousands of other victims, in the dark and out of sight.” Indifference, he said, is just another way of sanctioning such acts.

Bailey added that TEAM Westport is partnering with the police, Westport Library, Interfaith Clergy Association and schools, on community forums and projects.

Hicks spoke last. “As a white, privileged person, I am complicit in the death of George Floyd and others,” she said.

“I have not always been engaged in fighting racism and economic inequality.” It is not enough to be “not a racist,” she said. “People have to do things.”

 

The protest ended with a long moment of silence: 4 minutes, 23 seconds. But, Hicks noted, that was only half the amount of time George Floyd’s neck was pinned underneath a police officer’s knee.

The silence seemed to go on forever.

And it spoke volumes.

(Photo/David Vita)

(Photo/David Vita)

(All photos/Dan Woog unless otherwise noted)

Police: Please Don’t Have Gatherings We Need To Investigate!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

“The Police Department continues to receive reports of large gatherings at private residences. Do not put Police Department personnel in the uncomfortable, unsafe position when they need to investigate these reports.

“We are in this together, but all of us must do our part in obeying the recommendations and maintaining a high level of vigilance so that we can flatten the curve. This includes social distancing at all times in public areas and private homes and yards.

“Westport is known for its creative, artistic roots. Let’s put this spirit to use and show how we can connect and remain distanced from our neighbors and friends in innovative, ingenious ways.”


In other selectman news, the Connecticut Chapter of the NFL Players Alumni has purchased surgical masks for first responders in southwestern Connecticut.

Westport resident, Staples High School graduate and former NFL player Skip Lane was among those who presented a case of the masks to Marpe and Police Chief Foti Koskinas.

Marpe notes that surgical and homemade masks for personal use are now recommended by the CDC when we need to leave our homes. Use of these masks does not eliminate the need for social distancing.

Also, homemade and surgical masks have been added to the list of eligible donations accepted by the Public Works Department. These masks will be used for first responders and town staff. Click here to set up an appointment for pickup.

(From left) 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, former NFL pro Skip Lane and Police Chief Foti Koskinas, with much-needed surgical masks.

Police Back New Hire; Respond To News Reports, Social Media Storm

There are 2 sides to every story.

And the side behind the initial furor — “Rogue Cop Hired in Westport” — is as interesting as the first.

Social media was atwitter over the weekend, after the New Haven Independent published a story about Daniel Conklin, a former New Haven detective set to join the Westport Police Department.

Conklin allegedly destroyed evidence on a bogus stop, harassed and arrested a man on trumped-up charges, and shoved and threatened to tow the car of a fisherman parked on a bridge.

Daniel Conklin (Photo/Christopher Peak, courtesy of New Haven Independent)

Westport delayed Conklin’s swearing-in, set for today. But the department stands strongly by the new hire.

A few moments ago, officials said:

We want to assure the public that Mr. Conklin has been properly and thoroughly vetted through an extensive background investigation process. We are confident in our decision to hire him as a Westport police officer.

The Westport Police Department is a very desirable law enforcement agency in which to work, and is able to be extremely selective with its new hires. Every officer hired, lateral or entry level, is vetted through an extremely rigorous background investigation process. This involves a physical examination, drug screen, review of the applicant’s finances, neighborhood canvass, and interviews with employers. The applicant encounters 3 levels of oral interviews with department investigators and command staff. This process also includes a polygraph examination and a psychological evaluation.

We have reviewed Detective Conklin’s personnel and training files. We have examined each internal affairs complaint individually. The federal lawsuit against Detective Conklin was unanimously dismissed by the jury. Two complaints were found to be attributed to training deficiencies on behalf of the New Haven Police Department and another resulted in a 1-day suspension. For the last 3 years of his 5 year career in New Haven, he has excelled in his profession and has not been the subject of any internal affairs or discipline investigations.

We have spoken to his family, co-workers, supervisors and a sergeant in the internal affairs department, all of whom concurred that Daniel has matured into well-rounded, competent police officer. Chief Koskinas has personally spoken to Chief Campbell of the New Haven Police Department regarding Detective Conklin and received a very favorable recommendation. Further, Chief Campbell stated, “If there was ever a sensitive investigation to be handled involving my family, or anyone, I would want him [Conklin] to investigate it.”

Because of his strong work ethic, Detective Conklin was appointed by the New Haven Chief of Police to the gang unit. In 2016, he was promoted to the rank of detective and assigned to the major crimes division of the New Haven Police Department. Both are prestigious assignments which come with incredible responsibility. Detective Conklin was highly recommended by his supervisors and the State’s Attorney’s Office due to his investigative skills and his sensitivity to victims and their families.

Over the last 3 years, 16 of 18 new police department hires have been lateral applicants joining us from other Connecticut law enforcement agencies. We have had great success from our lateral hiring process. We have hired lieutenants from the Norwalk and Orange Police Departments, sergeants from Woodbridge and Waterbury, detectives from Waterbury, West Haven, Trumbull and Orange, and officers from Monroe, Bridgeport, Trumbull, Ridgefield, Naugatuck and Torrington. Each officer brings with him or her a great deal of knowledge and experience. Detective Conklin is no different.

Once hired, every new officer faces a mandatory probationary period with the Westport Police Department. Chief Koskinas stated, “I have an obligation to make decisions that are in the best interest of our officers, the citizens and the Town of Westport. I would never recommend hiring someone that would put any of these groups at risk. We are confident that Daniel Conklin will be an asset to the police department and the Town of Westport.”

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe added, “During the last 24 hours, I have received a significant number of phone calls and e-mails regarding the hiring of Daniel Conklin, and I appreciate the concerns that residents have raised.  After in-depth review and discussion with Police Chief Foti Koskinas, I am confident that we have fully vetted Detective Conklin’s background and that we understand the circumstances surrounding those events that took place early in his career. He will continue to be subject to review through the department’s mandatory, lengthy, and rigorous, probationary period. This time period will give his supervisors additional opportunities to further train and evaluate his performance as an officer in Westport’s outstanding Police Department.”