Tag Archives: Westport Police Department

Pets, Wildlife Star In Animal Control Awareness Night

If you live in Westport, at some point you’ve probably wondered:

  • What’s up with all these coyotes?
  • What do I do about an injured bird/raccoon/deer?
  • Is there anything I can do about my neighbor’s damn dog?

The answers come next Tuesday (March 5, 7 p.m.) from a somewhat unlikely source: the cops.

On second thought, it’s not so unusual. Westport’s Police Department has a robust Animal Control division. They’ll host that Animal Control Awareness Night, in the 2nd floor classroom at police headquarters on Jesup Road.

Do you know what to do when you see a coyote?

The goal is to educate the public about the Animal Control Division. Among the topics: animal control laws and town ordinances, disaster preparedness for pets, living with coyotes, protection from rabies, and what to do if you find injured wildlife.

Presenters include Dr. Sheldon Yessenow, state Animal Response Team regional director and a veterinary responder to Hurricane Katrina, and Peter Reid, associate director of Wildlife in Crisis.

The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Sorry — no dog treats.

Unsung Hero #85

Yvonne O’Kane’s dog barked frantically at 1 a.m. last month. She woke up, looked in the back of her Old Hill area home for deer, then took him outside to do his duty.

A few hours later, her husband went outside. Yvonne’s Mercedes convertible was gone.

The police arrived within 3 minutes. A great officer, Rachel Baron  — “lovely, compassionate and professional” — took the information. She described the work of crime gangs in Waterbury and Newark.

Because Yvonne’s checkbook and credit cards had been in the car, the officer told her to call her bank and card companies to freeze her accounts.

That morning, Yvonne headed to the police station to provide more information. Detective Phil Restieri was “awesome,” she says.

Detective Phil Restieri

He already had information: Her car had crossed the George Washington Bridge at 4 a.m. Someone had tried to use her credit card at Starbucks and McDonald’s in Newark. He gave her more advice on how to handle her lost items, and deal with her insurance company.

Phil told her that her car might be headed for a container ship. He was working with law enforcement contacts on the docks. “Everyone was already alerted,” Yvonne says.

Phil was calm, and reassuring. “His diligence and confidence gave me confidence,” Yvonne says.

Whenever she checked in, he had time for her. He — and the department — “really stayed on the case,” she adds. “No one ever made me feel like an idiot.”

After 3 weeks, Phil called. Yvonne’s car had been found, on the side of a Newark street.

He explained that stolen cars are often left on roadsides — or moved from garage to garage — until an order comes in from operatives for that particular make or model.

But Phil’s work was not done. He told Yvonne that he’d already arranged to have her vehicle towed to a safe place.

Yvonne got Westport Center Services to bring the car back from New Jersey. They delivered it to a service center in Bridgeport.

Yvonne was hesitant to go there at night. She worried there might be a weapon in the car. So — long after his shift was over — Phil met her in Bridgeport.

“It was awesome to have a police officer there,” Yvonne says. “He couldn’t have been nicer. And he said if I needed anything else, to just call.”

Phil Restieri — and all his colleagues at the Westport Police Department — are Yvonne O’Kane’s Unsung Heroes.

But here’s the thing: This is the kind of thing they do all day, every day.  We don’t hear about stories like this, unless they impact us. Or unless someone like Yvonne tells us.

So: If you’ve got a Westport Police Unsung Heroes story to share, click “Comments” below.

(Want to nominate your own Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net) 

If You See Something…

The Y’s Men of Westport/Weston often use email to circulate useful information. John Brandt recently sent this to 400+ members. The message is worth sharing with the larger “06880” community too. 

Call it “a word to the Y’s.”

You may have read that there were several break-ins on Washington Avenue and Evergreen Avenue last week. On Sunday morning at 2:50, I saw several people walking up Washington Avenue with no apparent reason for being there. I watched them duck into my neighbor’s driveway and then move on. I didn’t call the police.

After the fact, I asked our police chief for guidance on when to call. He said that we should call the police “when anything appears remotely suspicious.” In other words: If you see something, say something.

I now realize that’s a lot more than a slogan. As Chief Foti Koskinas noted, “We have been making a lot of arrests. But there are a lot more people out there.”

Safety and community security is everyone’s responsibility. I regret not calling. Had I called, maybe these people who seek to do us harm would have been apprehended. I won’t make that mistake again.

Don’t hesitate. Call — and help the police protect and serve us.

NOTE: Diligent police work solved a recent crime spree — 6 residential burglaries, 14 motor vehicle break-ins, 2 stolen cars and numerous larcenies —  on Sandhopper Trail, Crystal Circle, Gault Avenue, Oak Ridge Park, Keyser Road, Evergreen Avenue, Gorham Avenue and Brooklawn Drive. Investigators recovered plenty of stolen property, including 2 Audis, 1 Mercedes and 1 Chevrolet, computers, a bicycle and a purse.

In every case, homes and vehicles were left unlocked. Police urge residents to lock homes, garages and vehicles every night; remove valuables from vehicles, and turn on exterior lights and security systems. 

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)

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.)

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.