Tag Archives: Sam Arciola

Pic Of The Day #745

(Photo/Steve Perkins)

Rugby is a favorite South African sport. Westporter Steve Perkins was born there, and wanted to find a club here for his son.

Deputy Police Chief Sam Arciola and Westport police officer Ned Batlin helped Steve organize a rugby program, through the Westport PAL. Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department also helped.

Staples High School head rugby coach David Lyme has helped the program grow into 3 teams: Under 10 (non-contact), and U-12 and U-14 (full contact). Very quickly, the young Westporters have become formidable ruggers.

They’ll feed into the Staples program, which currently fields 4 teams for nearly 100 players.

In the photo above, Steve’s son Ari Perkins (blue) battles Aspetuck, in U-14 action at Wakeman Field.

Unsung Hero #55

Today is July 4.

Westport jumps the gun a bit on our fireworks celebration. We held ours Monday night. It’s the town’s biggest and best party of the year.

The cost is just $35 — and that’s only if you want to park at Compo. (Plus, you can pack as many people as you want into your vehicle.)

Otherwise you can park at Longshore, the office complex on Greens Farms Road or a friend’s house, and walk to the beach.

Still, people complain.

The $35 — a price that has remained the same for years — helps fund Westport PAL. They’ve sponsored the event for years. Recently, Melissa & Doug have helped out, ensuring that more of the money goes back to PAL programs.

Under the direction of Westport Police officer Ned Batlin — and a small group of volunteers — PAL does plenty. For example, they provide:

  • Youth sports teams and clinics. Each year, over 2,000 youngsters participate in 20 or so programs, including football, wrestling, cheerleading and much more.
  • The ice rink at Longshore (one of Westport’s favorite winter activities, for people of all ages and abilities).

The PAL Longshore Ice Rink.

  • Equipment and other needs for a variety of Staples High School teams.
  • College scholarships (more than 300 graduates so far, and counting).
  • Support for Toys for Tots, DARE and other programs.

That’s just the tangible stuff. By partnering with so many efforts, Westport PAL shows kids that the police really are their pals.

Westport PAL is our July 4th Unsung Heroes.

And every other day too.

Officer Ned Batlin, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Deputy Chief Sam Arciola all help Westport PAL go.

4 Good Guys, 1 Good Deed

Over 400 Staples High School seniors have completed their internships. For the past 4 weeks they’ve worked at non-profits, in offices and on farms. They’ve served customers and clients, discovered a bit about the real world, and learned something about themselves.

Nearly every employer has a story about his or her Staples intern. EJ Zebro wants the entire “06880” community to hear about his.

Train Away Pain logoActually, the owner of Train Away Pain — the downtown Westport preventive sports injury and lifestyle practice — had 4 interns this year.

After a long morning, the quartet — Jack Zeldes, Josh Willis, Jack Griffin and Sam Arciola — headed out to lunch.

They spotted a patient — a woman recovering from spinal surgery — holding a cane and struggling. She’d been driven to her session, but was unsure how she’d get home.

No one told them what to do. On their own, the interns offered her a ride.

It was a wonderful gesture. The woman was so thrilled that when they dropped her off, she insisted they take a photo together.

It’s a little thing, sure. But, Zebro says, “Little things like that happen every year in the Staples internship program year after year. And it’s the little things that give me great hope for the future of this community.”

A grateful Westporter, surrounded by Staples interns (from left) Jack Griffin, Josh Willis, Jack Zeldes and Sam Arciola.

A grateful Westporter, surrounded by Staples interns (from left) Jack Griffin, Josh Willis, Jack Zeldes and Sam Arciola.

Foti Koskinas: Hail To The Chief

When Foti Koskinas was sworn in as Westport’s police chief a few weeks ago, one of the speakers was Marty Bell.

Seven years earlier, the 2 men had a contentious relationship. Bell had beefs with the Police Department, where Koskinas was deputy chief. They battled hard. Now they’re buds.

That tells you nearly all you need to know about our new top cop.

But you should also know this. Among the folks Koskinas wanted to invite to the swearing-in were 2 from his Long Lots Middle School days: principal Dan Sullivan and teacher Sandy Ikard.

Both eased Koskinas’ transition, from a 6th grader new to the US unable to speak a word of English, to a 7th grader with friends, an active social life, and a love for school.

Neither could make the ceremony. But the fact that the police chief wanted them there speaks volumes.

In fact, Koskinas’ journey — physical and metaphorical — deserves its own book.

Westport Police Chief Fotios Koskinas.

Westport Police Chief Fotios Koskinas.

His route to Westport began in 1981 when his father Evangelos — a Greek sea captain and part owner of a shipping company — decided his children should be educated in the States. He chose Westport because a friend of his brother lived on Tomahawk Lane.

“Looking back, it was a huge adjustment,” the police chief says. “But I was welcomed with open arms.” Sullivan, Ikard and many other staff members helped. Within a year, Koskinas felt comfortable.

Some of those Long Lots friends came to the swearing-in ceremony too.

At Staples High School, Koskinas played football, wrestled, and joined Bruce Betts’ volleyball club.

He entered the University of New Haven, planning to study engineering. But many of his friends were in the school’s vaunted criminal justice program. At the time, Dr. Henry Lee was there too, working on the Richard Crafts “wood chipper” murder case. Koskinas changed majors.

He applied to the FBI, and took the US Marshals Service test. He also took the Westport Police exam, and was offered a part-time position. He headed to the state Police Academy.

Westport PoliceKoskinas has been here ever since. As a sergeant, with a newborn daughter, he had a chance with the FBI. He turned it down, to stay in Westport.

The position he’s moved into — and the department he now heads — is in good shape, Koskinas says. He praises his predecessor Dale Call for handing over a force that needs “no immediate fixes.”

Both Koskinas and Call are Staples grads. Thirty or 40 years ago, that was true of nearly every officer. Most lived in town.

That’s one of the biggest differences today, Koskinas says. Though Sam Arciola and Vincent Penna of the command staff are residents and natives, few other cops are true Westporters.

Many live in Monroe, Shelton, Trumbull and Stratford. Others commute from as far as Oxford and Southbury.

“People come in for their 8-hour or overtime shift,” Koskinas says. “They do a great job. But when it’s over, they immediately head home. They don’t shop here, go to restaurants here, get their entertainment here. They don’t get to know the local residents in their off hours.”

Call, Koskinas and others — including Staples grad Ned Batlin — have tried to create stronger ties, particularly at the youth level. They’ve helped organize “Dodge a Cop” dodgeball tournaments with Staples and middle school students, among other initiatives.

As deputy chief, Foti Koskinas (left) played on this winning Dodge-a-Cop dodgeball team.

As deputy chief, Foti Koskinas (left) played on this winning Dodge-a-Cop dodgeball team.

That human touch is key, Koskinas says.

“The most crucial part of policing is how officers treat everyone — from the first time the call comes in, to when they pull away in their car at the end.”

Some are frivolous, of course. But, Koskinas notes, “every call is important to the person who calls.”

His officers can train with guns and tools, the chief adds. Yet the most vital training — and highest priority, and toughest — is “how to be a human being.”

That means shifting from the “warrior” us-against-them mentality, to a “guardian” mode.

Koskinas credits Call with bringing experts to help train officers in areas like de-escalation and mental illness. He made sure to put at least one officer with special crisis training on every shift.

A monument outside police headquarters honors fallen officers.

A monument outside police headquarters honors fallen officers.

The Westport Police Department’s strength, Koskinas says, is “without a doubt, our people. We’re very fortunate to have a good, highly educated, hard-working staff. They’re very vested in what they do.”

As chief, Koskinas has several roles. He makes sure his officers have the best training, tools and cars (“that’s their office,” he explains).

He listens to their concerns, and lets them know they’re valued. “My success will be based on how well they answer calls,” Koskinas says.

He also listens to – and understands — the public. “I’ll disagree when I have to, but I’ll always respond when I can,” he says.

He gives high marks to Westporters. “They almost always ask for what they deserve. They’re very reasonable. Their requests are not unrealistic.”

Westport's finest.

Westport’s finest, at the Memorial Day parade. Former chief Dale Call is 2nd from left, flanked by (from left) Sam Arciola, Foti Koskinas and Vincent Penna.

Yet the new police chief is no miracle worker. At any time, there are only 6 or 7 officers on a shift. They answer calls, write reports and handle evidence.

The total force of 63 is down from 72 a decade ago. “We’ve been told to reduce head count,” Koskinas says. “That’s a reality. The town is not less safe than it was. But when people talk about not seeing what they think is enough traffic enforcement, that’s where those 9 positions would help.”

The message he wants Westporters to hear is seen at the bottom of his letterhead: “With courage, to protect the rights of all people.”

Koskinas is proud to treat everyone with utmost respect. “I’ve arrested some real bad guys,” he says (and, though he downplays them, he has the decorations to prove it). “But they leave with respect for the way they were handled.”

The chief wants Westport to know one more thing: “My command staff and I have a true open door policy. Every phone call will be returned. That’s the only way we’ll get better.”

And when you hear Foti Koskinas’ voice, you’ll never know that just 25 years ago, he was a newly arrived 6th grader — a boy who spoke not one word of English.

Westport Cops Sport Sweet Pink Ride

A police car on a high school campus usually elicits a Pavlovian response: Kids flee.

But when Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas and Captain Sam Arciola showed up at Staples today, teenagers flocked to examine their ride.

Westport Police - pink Maserati

It’s not every day you see a Maserati cop car. Let alone, a pink one.

The 2016 vehicle is a rolling advertisement for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Maserati of Westport donated the car (though only for the month).

It won’t be pulling you over — it’s just for show.

But the police vehicle will be at Sherwood Island on October 18, for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

Check it out there.

It’s not exactly hard to miss.

Staples Students Dodge Cops; Everyone Happy

Cops and kids battled it out for a couple of hours last night at Staples.

They threw stuff at each other, across a line no one dared cross.

Then they all fist-bumped, had pizza, and drove home safely.

The event was “Dodge-a-Cop” — a massive dodgeball tournament — sponsored by the Westport Police/Youth Collaborative and Youth Commission.

Over a dozen high school teams participated, with at least one Westport Police officer on each team.

Students paid to participate. All funds raised go to Homes With Hope.

That’s a big 10-4.

Officer Ned Batlin, Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas and Captain Sam Arciola are all smiles -- before the dodgeballs start flying.

Officer Ned Batlin, Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas and Captain Sam Arciola are all smiles — before the dodgeballs start flying.

Staples track stars (from left) Patrick Lindwall, Will McDonald, James Lewis, Peter Elkind and Jake Berman are fast enough to run from the cops. At the dodgeball tournament, they didn't have to.

Staples track stars (from left) Patrick Lindwall, Will McDonald, James Lewis, Peter Elkind and Jake Berman are fast enough to run from the cops. At the dodgeball tournament, they didn’t have to.

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