Tag Archives: 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.

Unsung Heroes #67

It’s hard to come up with new ideas for a 6-year-old’s birthday party. But Dylan Rosen has had great interactions with Westport police officers. So on a whim, his father Frank asked the Westport Police Department if his son and friends could get a tour of the station.

The WPD said, “sure!”

But as 17 boys and their parents walked in to police headquarters, Rosen had doubts. “Who drew the short straw?” he wondered.

Officers Daniel Paz and John Margnelli did. But for them and their guests, it was anything but a chore.

“They could not have been any warmer or more genuine,” Rosen reports. “They completely overextended themselves.”

Officer Daniel Paz lets Rosen “ride” a police motorcycle.

First, Paz — who served 2 deployments in Iraq — told the kids, “You can’t come in this police station without a badge.” Then he handed he one a sticker badge.

He showed the group everything from dispatch and the detective bureau to the garage with police bikes, tactical defensive gear and holding cells (the boys and girls remarked on the lack of privacy and televisions, and noted there would not be much to do in there).

Paz and Margnelli — who was a homicide detective, SWAT operator and community police officer in Florida before coming to Connecticut — ended the tour by showing a police motorcycle and car.

There was no talk or evidence of weapons anywhere with the kids.

Away from the children though, parents saw the gear officers use in a SWAT situation, and the heavily armored vests and helmets needed to stop an AR-15 round.

What was most impressive, Rosen says, was “the kindness of our officers, and the lengths they went to to give each child (and adult) an opportunity to ask questions. They never ran out of patience.”

At the end of the tour, Paz and Margnelli learned the group was headed next to Westport Pizzeria. So they gave the youngsters an escort.

“The kids were skipping the whole way there!” Rosen says.

The start of a police escort to Westport Pizzeria.

“It’s important that our children know these are real super-heroes,” he adds. “These are the brave people we call on every day. They leave their homes and families, to come to work and protect ours.”

Thanks, Daniel Paz and John Margnelli, for going above and beyond a few days ago for an admiring group of 6-year-olds — and for all of us, 24/7/365.

Sunset Drama On Sunrise

Sunrise Road was not made for 18-wheelers.

The driver of a truck filled with 43,000 pounds of refrigerated meat — bound from Minnesota to West Haven — learned that out the hard way last night at 7.

He tried to make a right turn onto Saugatuck Avenue — no easy feat even for Mini Coopers. Soon, he was hung up on a stone wall.

Alert “06880” reader Gerald F. Romano Jr. was on the scene. For the next 2 1/2 hours, he says, Westport police and firefighters did a great job. A crew from Quality Towing unloaded 10,000 pounds of meat off the truck.

That lightened the load, so the Quality guys could pull the rear wheels off the wall. No one one was injured. The driver — who said this was his first incident in 40 years — drove off.

(All photos Gerald F. Romano Jr.)

“It all ended well,” Romano says.

But just imagine if the driver had headed for the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Police Pension Draws National Attention

A pension dispute involving Westport’s Police Department has drawn national attention.

The Economic Policy Institute — a left-leaning think tank — is focusing on a dispute between the police union (AFSCME Local 2080) and the town.

Negotiations have gone to binding arbitration. A decision may come this fall.

“Why would Westport mess with a system that works?” asks economist Monique Morrissey on the EPI’s Working Economics Blog.

“The police department is tiny and the town can easily afford the benefits. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, spending on police pensions amounted to just 1.2 percent of the town’s revenues, so even drastic benefit cuts wouldn’t noticeably affect anyone’s tax bill.

“Westport’s property tax rate is already among the lowest in the state, though taxes are high in dollar terms as would be expected for a wealthy town in a high cost of living area.”

Morrissey notes that Westport police officers do not receive Social Security, nor is overtime factored into their final pensions. She frames efforts to reduce Westport police pensions as part of “an ideological campaign” to get rid of pensions in favor of riskier 401(k)-style savings plans.

She says that kind of campaign could backfire as municipalities start to restore benefits in an effort to prevent losing experienced officers.

“The 64 members of the Westport police department, who signed on for what they thought was a career of public service that would be rewarded with a secure retirement, may still pay a price, unless the citizens of Westport realize that that the police force they have come to rely on may be torn apart by shortsighted pension ‘reforms,’” Morrissey writes.

Click here to read Morrissey’s full story.

Kudos!

Over 1,700 Westporters are still without power. Restoration continues slowly.

Wednesday’s storm — the 2nd in 5 days — took its toll on much of New York and New England.

But as we’re recovering from that double whammy, let’s realize how good we actually have it.

Our public officials and town employees really earned their pay this week. In no particular order, we owe huge thanks to:

Westport Police Department. They’ve been vigilant in responding to calls, assessing damage, helping work crews, and keeping the town safe and secure. They’re stretched thin — but every man and woman on the force responded. (NOTE to impatient citizens: Those traffic barricades are up for a reason. Click on the video from New Jersey below — but beware. It’s gruesome.)

Westport Fire Department. At the height of the storm Wednesday night, they answered literally hundreds of calls. From live wires and fallen trees to actual fires, they covered the town. They were often the first eyes on an incident, and they coordinated expertly with other town offices. On Thursday and through today, they’ve kept going. Their red trucks — and the firefighters on them — are a truly welcome sight. And they seem to be everywhere.

Public Works Department. They’re the guys who are actually out there, working all day and night. They plow the roads, remove the trees, and do all the other dirty work that enables the rest of us to carry on with our lives. It’s tough, demanding, physical work. And they haven’t had a break in days.

First Selectman Jim Marpe. He’s the man at the top. His calm, efficient yet commanding presence has inspired everyone else — at the emergency operations center, and in the field — to do their jobs. Jim believes in public service, and he makes sure every public official serves the town well.

Everyone else in emergency operations too. I don’t know everyone’s names. But quietly and effectively, they managed back-to-back storms with professionalism and care.

Superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer. She had to make difficult, irrevocable, damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t choices about closing school.  That comes with the territory. But she went above and beyond, communicating often and clearly about how and why she made those decisions. Today she threaded the needle — opening school, but not penalizing students for absences, and postponing all tests and quizzes. She “weathered” criticism with grace — and kept thousands of youngsters safe.

School maintenance staffs. They shoveled tons of heavy snow, and did all the other work, to ensure that schools could open today. They were there at the height of the storm. No one saw what they did — but today we noticed how much they did.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten other key men and women in town. If you know anyone I’ve missed, click “Comments” below.

Public Works takes care of downed trees. Police put up barricades. It takes a village to help our town weather 2 storms since last Friday. (Photo/Janette Kinnally)

PTA Thanks Cops

In a show of appreciation, the Staples High School PTA and Westport PTA Council treated the Westport Police Department to lunch today.

The card below says it all: