Tag Archives: Westport Police Department

Unsung Heroes #129

At 5:45 p.m. a few days before Christmas — with everyone rushing home or finishing errands — a Westport woman’s Volvo SUV broke down in the middle of Canal Street. It blocked traffic. She could not even put it in neutral.

But instead of getting mad, many Westporters helped.

One was a mechanic. Another was a woman, who parked on the side and showed “incredible kindness.”

The Westport Police were “amazing — as always.” she says. One officer even drove her home.

These seem like such little gestures. To her — stressed out and worried — they were huge.

“Thank you to all the kind-hearted people who stopped,” she says.

“Your smiles, kind words and willingness to help a stranger brightened a very cold night.”

Police Service Dog Koda Retires

The Westport Police Department says:

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the early retirement of police service Dog Koda, due to health concerns.

The 9-year old Belgian Malinois was imported from Hungary. He joined the department in February 2012.

At 18 months old, Koda completed a 10-week training course. He earned certification in narcotics detection, tracking, handler protection and criminal apprehension.

Since beginning his law enforcement career, Koda was partnered up with Officer James Loomer, who joined the department in February of 2010. Since then, they worked together full time in the patrol division.

Koda, with Officer James Loomer.

Loomer and Koda have responded to over 600 canine-related calls for service, in Westport and neighboring communities.

The Police Department will raise funds to purchase and train a new police service dog, to continue Koda’s impressive legacy.

The public is invited to a brief ceremony this Friday (December 13, 9:30 a.m.) in the classroom at police headquarters (50 Jesup Road).

Westport Cops Go Green — Add Tesla To The Fleet

Savvy drivers know what our police cars look like.

They look like cop cars everywhere.

But this is Westport. The next time you’re pulled over, it may be by a … Tesla.

The newest addition to the Police Department fleet is a fully electric 2020 Tesla Model 3. The 310 mile-range electric vehicle has already been delivered. It’s being outfitted now with all the necessary equipment: emergency lights, siren, computer, weapon rack, and tires capable of speeds over 100 miles an hour.

It’s expected to hit the mean streets of Westport by the end of January.

No, this is not a speed trap by the Minute Man Monument. Although it might be.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas says he “believes in being green.” But his main reason for choosing a Tesla was superior performance, crash ratings, and collision avoidance technology.

Officers will pass on the autopilot feature.

While the purchase price of $52,290 is higher than the $37,000 the department normally spends adding another Ford Explorer, Koskinas expects to more than make up for that in fuel and maintenance savings.

Just in the first 3 years, an internal combustion engine squad car requires about $11,000 in oil changes, oil filters, tuneups and brakes.

Teslas require no annual maintenance. Brakes last 70,000 miles or more, thanks to a motor system that slows the car while simultaneously recharging the battery.

A new look for the Westport Police Department fleet.

Savings on gas are significant too. The Department of Energy’s fuel economy calculator shows the Police Department’s cost per mile will be $0.040. The fuel cost for a Ford Explorer is $0.127 per mile — saving $13,770 in the first 3 years.

Charging the battery is not an issue. The vehicle is expected to be used 200 to 220 miles a day. The police already have a gas pump on their property. They’ll add a Level 2 electric vehicle charger, which will take just a few hours overnight.

The cop car will join the 431 electric vehicles already owned by Westporters. 250 are Teslas. That puts us #1 in the state in both categories (per capita).

EV Club president Bruce Becker believes Westport is the first police department on the East Coast with a Tesla.

FUN FACTS:

  • The Model 3 has an extra trunk in the front of the vehicle where an internal combustion engine would usually be. Officers can use it to store emergency equipment that must be kept separate from cargo in the rear trunk.
  • Every Tesla comes straight from the factory with features like front, side and rear-view cameras that a police department would typically install at extra cost. They can also be used in “sentry mode” to monitor the vehicle and vicinity when it’s parked.
  • The Model 3 has a top speed of 162 mph — faster than all other vehicles in the current fleet.
  • Police cars spend lots of time idling. An internal combustion engine must run to power the lights and keep online computers running while not draining the battery. The Tesla will eliminate those tailpipe emissions.
  • This is not the first EV for Westport’s Police Department. In 2007, a Toyota Prius replaced a car that burned 7 to 9 gallons of gas every day. The current Prius is a plug-in hybrid, but operates almost exclusively in electric-only mode for its daily driving needs.

The Police plan an open house in the spring, for the public to see the new car up close.

Though you can see it in action starting next month, if — suspecting a Ford Explorer — you get pulled over by the Tesla instead.

2 Ways To Make A Difference

Westporters care.

We care about our friends and neighbors. We care about kids and older folks in need, here and in nearby towns and cities.

We want to help — particularly in this holiday season.

But we don’t always know how.

Here are a couple of great ideas.


The Westport Police Department Local Union #2080 and Police Benevolent Association host an annual Holiday Toy Drive. Thousands of donations benefit underprivileged children throughout Fairfield County, and beyond.

Westport police officers will accept new, unopened and unwrapped toys — and cash donations — in the ASF Sports parking lot (1560 Post Road East) on Saturdays and Sundays, December 7, 8, 14 and 15 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Collection boxes are set up now through December 15 at:

  • Westport Police Department, 50 Jesup Road (24 hours a day)
  • Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
  • ASF Sports, 1560 Post Road East (weekdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Questions? Email jruggiero@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-6017.


In recent years, Bridgeport’s Cesar Batalla School has become a favorite destination for Westporters hoping to help youngsters enjoy the holidays.

The school serves children in high poverty brackets. Some live in shelters. 100% are fed breakfast and lunch at school.

Their families have no money for basic necessities — let alone holiday gifts.

Westporters can provide some of those gifts, for children in pre-K through 3rd grade.

It’s easy: Click here to order online from Amazon. Orders from the Wish List will be shipped directly to the school. They are also accepting donations at the Family Resource Center in the school (606 Howard Avenue, Bridgeport).  Call 203-579-8526 for drop-off times. For more information, email blabrador@bridgeportedu.net.

If interested, act now! Gifts will be given by Santa on December 19.

In past years, Westporters donated these gifts to the Cesar Batalla School.

 

Signing Off On Thefts

The election is over, but thefts of yard signs continue. Now, the victims are non-profit organizations. The Westport Police Department just issued this press release:

Numerous claims of missing lawn signs have been reported over the pastfew weeks by local nonprofits. Some of these signs were displayed on private property or were authorized to be placed on public property.

A group calling itself “The Committee” has written to at least one local nonprofitorganization stating that if they fail to remove lawn signs, “The Committee” will take down their signs “at first sight.”

The individual or individuals behind “The Committee” have not identified themselves. However, this incident has been reported to police and is underinvestigation.

Residents are advised against taking it upon themselves to remove signs that do not belong to them, from either public or private property. Enforcement of town rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not private citizens.

The removal of signs from public or private property by someone not authorized to do so by the town, or by the owner of the sign,may constitute theft. Entering onto private property to remove signs may constitute trespassing.

Both of these acts can result in arrest.

Anyone with information about the recent rash of missing signs is asked to call the Westport Police Department: 203-341-6000.  Charities that have had signs removed from authorized public or private locations are also encouraged to file a formal police report.

Nonprofits are reminded that signs advertising charitable events must be reviewed and approved by the town before the signs can be placed on town property or in the town right-of-way.

An electronic copy of the Temporary Sign Request form is available on the town’s website. Paper copies of this document can also be obtained from the First Selectman’s office.

For each event, a total of 15 signs are allowed on town property and in the town right-of-way. These signs cannot be placed more than 2 weeks before the event, and they must be removed within 2 days after the event.

Town Sends Out A Trick-Or-Treat Message

A press release from Westport’s police, fire and selectman’s office says:

Members of the town’s emergency management team and the first selectman have discussed the weather forecast for Halloween, and the effect it may have on trick-or-treating in Westport. The team also discussed requests the town has received to consider changing trick-or-treating night to Friday or Saturday, and the logistics involved in making such a change.

Because trick-or-treating is not a town-sponsored event, the team agreed that it is best to leave the decision up to families and individual neighborhoods to change the night within their own neighborhood.

According to the National Weather Service, current models show a chance for a brief window of drying between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Halloween. Heavy rains and wind will occur after 9 p.m.

In all circumstances, the emergency management team recommends close supervision of all trick-or-treaters. Door-to-door trick-or-treating close to home in familiar areas is advisable.

The Police Department offers the following safety tips for trick-or-treating:

  • Motorists are urged to drive with extreme care and allow extra time to reach destinations, as trick-or-treaters will surely be out on Thursday evening, October 31. Please use the utmost caution when exiting driveways. Please don’t drink and drive.
  • Parents or other responsible adults should accompany all elementary school-age children. Younger children should complete their rounds by 6 p.m., older ones by 8 p.m. Agree on a specific time when older youths are due home, and plan a route with them in advance.
  • Costumes should be easily visible and marked with reflector tape, and/or flashlights should be carried at all times. When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric that could create a fall hazard. Opt for face paint instead of a mask. If your child wears a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
  • Travel in small groups to increase safety.  Encourage children to stay in their own neighborhoods where they are known.
  • Children should only go to the houses where outside lights are on. A darkened house is not prepared to receive them. The police department receives complaints annually regarding doorbells being rung, even though the lights are out.

Trick or treat!

 

Police Step Up Bike Traffic Enforcement. Resident Sees A Larger Issue.

It’s not quite Times Square. But certain parts of Westport — Hillspoint Road and South Compo from Elvira Mae’s to the Minute Man, say — attract a wide variety of folks.

Walkers, joggers, people with strollers and/or dogs, bicyclists, motorcyclists, drivers — all enjoy the beautiful, relaxing scenery.

And all battle for limited territory: roads, shoulders, sidewalks.

Beautiful — and not much room.

On Friday, the Westport Police Department — acting on “a number of complaints related to cyclists using town roads recklessly, with little to no regard for posted traffic control signage and other rules of the road” — announced a bicycle traffic enforcement campaign.

Officers — concentrated in and around Compo Beach — will be on the lookout for cyclists who blow through stop signs, fail to ride single file in the direction of traffic, or don’t use hand signals.

The scene yesterday, at Soundview Avenue by Hillspoint Road.

The stepped-up enforcement is not anti-biker, the department says. Rather, it’s to “educate and ensure the safety of cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike while all must share our roads.”

A Compo Beach resident applauded the campaign. He’s tired of trying to enjoy the beauty of the area, only to have “a 10-person bike torpedo zoom through at twice the speed limit, not stopping at signs and crosswalks.”

Not Westport. But to some people, it feels like this.

However, he adds, cyclists should not bear all the blame.

“The bigger and sadder issue is the underlying anger and hate. Bikers are afraid of cars. Walkers are afraid of bikers. And on it goes,” he says.

“Everyone comes from fear and anger, rather than the gratefulness of walking or riding near our spectacular beach. In the short term, the town will address the danger that exists. But in the longer term, how do we as a society address the fear and anger that this issue is simply a symptom of?”

After being on the receiving end of rudeness from cyclists — and scared by them — he says he tried to put himself in their shoes.

He realized how much they fear biking next to an SUV driver preoccupied with his or her cellphone (which the Police Department also addresses).

His own sons love to ride. “I can’t default to the easy ‘bikers are wrong,'” the Compo area resident says. “So I see this as, short term, let’s enforce the road rules to make people safe.

“Longer term, let’s figure out how we can become more tolerant and accepting of others. Let’s be more grateful, and less grumpy.”

Motorcycle Cops On A Mission

How are you spending your weekend?

While you (and I) enjoy the beach, barbecues and other perks of a rapidly ending summer, 3 Westport police officers have taken a road trip.

Officers Rachel Baron, Mark Grasso and Scott Thompson used personal time to join volunteers from police departments nationwide, as escorts in a charity motorcycle ride.

America’s 911 Foundation — an all-volunteer group — organizes the annual event. Honoring victims of, and first responders to, the September 11 terrorist attacks, the ride visits all 3 sites at which people lost their lives that day in 2001.

It started Thursday in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; headed to the Pentagon, and ends today at the World Trade Center.

The 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania …

As escorts, the Westport officers helped clear the road ahead, stopped traffic at on-ramps and intersections, and made sure the many motorcyclists felt safe and supported.

… and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

Money raised goes to great causes. Last year, the foundation presented $32,000 in college scholarships to 16 first responder children; provided over $7,000 to California first responders working on wildfires, and donated funds to fire companies in Tennessee and Pennsylvania for better equipment.

ICE Raids: Police Chief Explains Westport’s Stance

On Thursday — a few days before ICE may begin arresting members of undocumented families, including nearby immigrants who are not targets of raids — the Westport Police Department issued a press release.

The department noted its strict adherence to the Connecticut Trust Act, which defines the circumstances and duration under which a prisoner in the custody of state or local police or corrections can be held.

The WPD added that it “recognizes and truly values the diversity of the community we serve, and seeks to foster an environment of trust…. This agency will always treat all with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”

Today, Police Chief Foti Koskinas — a first-generation immigrant from Greece — expanded on his department’s statement.

He is concerned that the lessons of history have not been learned. In another era, he says, police departments used fire hoses on civil rights demonstrators. Those experiences — and the images of them — stigmatized law enforcement. That distrust has lingered, in some cases for decades.

“Law enforcement should be the last to intervene in social and political issues — if ever,” Koskinas says.

“The primary role of law enforcement is to serve. Very infrequently, our role is to protect, and help create an environment where all members of our community can thrive. But when we do need to protect people, they must be able to trust us.”

The population recently targeted by ICE is “people we welcome into our community,” Koskinas says. “We employ them. They are our neighbors. We hold up the ideal that Westport, our state and country are places where they can contribute and enrich their lives, their families’ lives, and all of our lives. If they work hard and give their families better lives than where they came from, they can succeed.”

However, he continues, “others wearing badges then turn around and wipe that away with threats and raids. We separate families, detain and deport them. We are better than this. We have to find better ways of dealing with this situation.”

Koskinas is hardly soft on crime. Criminals will be treated as criminals, no matter what their immigration status, he notes. Anyone who puts Westport at risk — who victimizes residents and visitors — will face consequences.

However, he notes, being in this country undocumented is not a criminal offense. It’s a violation of immigration (civil) law — not criminal law.

That’s why local police departments don’t ask about immigration status, or arrest undocumented people.

To serve and protect everyone in town — residents, employees, visitors and anyone passing through — the police must have their trust. They gain it by treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Not, Koskinas emphasizes, by turning them over to ICE for family separation and deportation.

Westport Police Address Immigration Raid Fears

The Westport Police Department just issued this statement:

The Westport Police Department has recently received inquiries from members of our community concerning our policies on federal immigration enforcement, specifically the level of this department’s participation in these activities.

Chief Foti Koskinas would like to reassure the community that as a first generation immigrant himself, he is sensitive to and shares the concerns of the community at large as it relates to this matter.

The Westport Police Department is in no way affiliated with or actively participating in federal efforts at immigration enforcement.

This department strictly adheres to and trains its officers on the Connecticut Trust Act, which clearly defines the circumstances and duration under which a prisoner in the custody of state or local police or corrections can be held solely on the basis of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer request.

Initially enacted into law on January 1, 2014, it is also noteworthy to mention that legislation was also recently passed updating this act, further limiting these conditions. Click here for a link to the original legislation.

The Westport Police Department recognizes and truly values the diversity of the community we serve, and seeks to foster an environment of trust in which victims of crime actively seek our assistance regardless of immigration status. As has been set forth as a guiding principle in our mission statement, this agency will always treat all with the respect and dignity that they deserve.