Tag Archives: Connecticut State Police

Meet Tom Kiely: Westport’s New Operations Director

A few weeks after popular Westport jeweler Kuti Zeevi was murdered in a 2011 robbery at his Compo Shopping Center store, the hunt for his killer grew cold.

But State Police detective Tom Kiely had a hunch. What if the murderer was not from the area?

Using only records from a burner phone — whose number Zeevi had written on a blotter, when he received calls from it — Kiely worked doggedly to detect patterns.

There were weeks when the phone was unused. He traced activity right before and after that time to airports. Working with US Customs and Border Protection officials, Kiely narrowed a list of possible suspects from 170 to just a few — and then to only Andrew Levene.

Sure enough, he was in Spain. Three days later Levene was arrested, and charged with murder and the theft of $300,000 in diamonds from Zeevi’s jewelry store.

Soon after — while awaiting extradition to the US — he killed himself in prison.

Kiely’s detective work earned him awards from the Connecticut State Police and US Department of Justice.

That was just one of countless cases — including Sandy Hook Elementary School — that Kiely handled during his 21 years with the State Police.

Now he’s a month into his new challenge: operations director for the town of Westport.

After 2 decades of dealing with people in the worst moments of their lives, he’s eager to help them handle less crucial issues, in a supportive and well-run community.

Tom Kiely, in his Town Hall office. On the wall: a State Police memento, and a painting of the construction of the I-95 Saugatuck River bridge. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Kiely retired in 2021, and “pumped the brakes.” When his first daughter was born, he enjoyed being a stay-at-home dad. (His wife works in brand management, for skincare products.)

Now — after the birth of their second child 2 months ago — it’s time to get back to a paying job.

A friend told Kiely that Westport was looking for an operations director. After three rounds of interviews, he was hired this fall.

“It’s a natural progression,” he says of his new position. “I spent 21 years in public service, at the state level. Now I’m more localized. It’s hands-on work. I can really get things done.”

Growing up in Shelton, and attending St. Joseph High School, Kiely spent time in Westport. “We’d put the top of the Jeep Wrangler down, and head to Compo,” he says. “It was great.”

He attended Plymouth State University expecting to be a meteorologist. But physics and calculus were not his strong suit. He switched majors, to public management.

After graduation, Kiely nearly accepted a sales job with Pfizer. Yet — with a father who was a retired Trumbull police chief, and a grandfather who’d been a Bridgeport police captain — he also applied to the State Police Academy.

That acceptance came through. Kiely began on patrol with Troop G in Bridgeport, made detective at 26, spent most of his career with the Western District Major Crimes Unit, then finished in a supervisory role.

His first month in Town Hall has been “drinking from a fire hose,” Kiely says. He’s met with department heads and directors, learning who does what here (and how).

Now he’s ready for specific assignments from 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker. He looks forward to working with, for example, the Downtown Improvement Plan Committee, Transit District and Sustainable Westport.

Tom Kiely is learning all about Westport — and quickly.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Kiely admits. “But town employees, residents –everyone — has been fantastic, and very welcoming.”

The resident issues he’s dealt with so far — paving, lawn damages and the like — are minor, compared to murders and robberies. But, Kiely knows, they’re important to people when they happen.

“This job is results-driven,” he says. “I think I have the ability to communicate with people, and help them talk and work together to solve problems.”

Part of the operations director’s job is to solve big problems — say, the aftermaths of hurricanes and blizzards.

With the State Police, Kiely constantly dealt with crises. That experience should serve him will whenever he needs it. Of course, he hopes those events are few and far between.

Meanwhile, he is settling easily in to his new role. Already, he’s discovered the double espressos at GG & Joe’s.

(“06880” keeps an eye on town happenings — and the folks who make them happen. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog.)

No More Nado

It’s a bit intimidating to get a voicemail from the cops, asking for a call back.

Except when the conversation goes like this.

Foti Koskinas — newly appointed deputy chief — asked me to convey a message to “06880” readers:

The Westport Police have teamed up with State Police to address the Nado parking issue — that’s the contractor who, for several months, has parked vehicles overnight under bridges on the Sherwood Island connector and South Compo Road.

“It’s not acceptable,” Foti said.

“Nado has been warned.  The Westport Police will enforce that warning.  If they park there again, they’re not getting a red sticker or even a ticket.  They will be towed.”

And not by a truck that picks up Passats.

“They’ll be towed by a heavy-duty wrecker — at heavy expense,” Foti says.

And that’s their expense — not the town’s.

But wait — there’s more!

“We’re glad people complained about this,” Foti says.

“We want the public to feel open calling us.  That’s the only way we know what’s going on.  And the only way we’ll get better.”

Foti encourages the public to phone 203-341-6000 with any questions, complaints or concerns.  A shift commander will handle the call.

And if that’s not good enough, you can ask for Foti or Police Chief Dale Call.

Just don’t ask to park your earth mover underneath any bridge in town.

Bombs Away!

In 1958, Bob Thompson and his wife moved to Westport.

Exploring the basement of their new Chapel Hill Road home, he found what he thought was an enormous cannonball.  He hauled the 70-pound artifact up to his garage.  It sat there for over 50 years, disturbed only when he cleaned up, or rearranged things.

Recently, an antique dealer friend spotted it.  He told Bob it was too big to be a cannonball.  It looked like a mortar shell, the friend said —  maybe it still had explosives in it.

Bob called the Westport Police Department.  Within moments 2 squad cars, a fire truck and an emergency vehicle roared up to his home.

The public safety officials told Bob to roll — not drive — his car out of the garage.  The mortar shell hasn’t blown up in 50 years, Bob said; I don’t think anything will happen now.

Just do as we say, they said.  He did.

Westport’s finest called the State Police bomb unit.  When they arrived, they asked — well, told — Bob and his wife to leave the area.  The Thompsons headed out for coffee.

When they returned, the explosive was gone.  Yellow warning tape still remained, strung around the area.

The police told Bob the bomb had been taken to Sherwood Island.  There, the authorities blew it up.

That sound you hear right now is hundreds of Westporters calling authorities to check out all the stuff they’ve had in their garages for years, and never thought twice about.

Or not.