Tag Archives: Westport Police Department

Want To Give This Holiday Season? Here’s How!

Several alert — and generous — “06880” readers have asked how they can help others this holiday season.

Not every Westporter is well off. Last year, the Department of Human Services’ Holiday Giving Program helped over 400 residents battered by layoffs, foreclosures and other misfortunes.

Some of the most appreciated gifts are grocery and gas gift cards of any amount, as well as gift cards to local stores.

Cash donations help Human Services staffers buy last-minute gift cards for clients. Gift cards and checks (payable to “DHS Family Programs,” with “Holiday” on the memo line) can be mailed to or dropped off at Room 200, Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.

Donors can also shop for a family’s actual gift requests. For specific requests or to learn more, contact Patty Haberstroh: hsyouth@westportct.gov; 203-341-1069.

NOTE: Clubs, schools, religious groups, book clubs and businesses can help too!


Meanwhile, Westport police officers are accepting new, unopened and unwrapped toys — plus cash donations — during their annual Holiday Toy Drive.

They take place on the weekends of December 9-10 and 16-17 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., ASF Sports parking lot, 1560 Post Road East).

Each year, police Local Union 2080 and the Police Benevolent Association has collected thousands of toys for children who otherwise would have none.

Can’t do weekends? Collection boxes are set up now through December 17 at the police station (50 Jesup Road), Town Hall (110 Myrtle Avenue), ASF Sports (1560 Post Road East) and Renato’s Jewelers (1765 Post Road East).

Questions? Contact Sgt. Jill Ruggiero: jruggiero@westportct.gov; 203-341-6000.


And if you swing by Suited.co (44 Railroad Place) Tuesday through Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) — with a gently used overcoat, jacket or suit — owner Ryan Meserole will donate it to Save-a-Suit. The non-profit provides business attire to military veterans getting back into the workforce.

It’s a great way to give. And Ryan gives back too — with a $150 credit on any Suited.co order.


I’m sure there are many more ways to help. If you know of an organization, business or club that’s doing good work this holiday season, click “Comments” below. Spread the word — and good cheer!

Police Back New Hire; Respond To News Reports, Social Media Storm

There are 2 sides to every story.

And the side behind the initial furor — “Rogue Cop Hired in Westport” — is as interesting as the first.

Social media was atwitter over the weekend, after the New Haven Independent published a story about Daniel Conklin, a former New Haven detective set to join the Westport Police Department.

Conklin allegedly destroyed evidence on a bogus stop, harassed and arrested a man on trumped-up charges, and shoved and threatened to tow the car of a fisherman parked on a bridge.

Daniel Conklin (Photo/Christopher Peak, courtesy of New Haven Independent)

Westport delayed Conklin’s swearing-in, set for today. But the department stands strongly by the new hire.

A few moments ago, officials said:

We want to assure the public that Mr. Conklin has been properly and thoroughly vetted through an extensive background investigation process. We are confident in our decision to hire him as a Westport police officer.

The Westport Police Department is a very desirable law enforcement agency in which to work, and is able to be extremely selective with its new hires. Every officer hired, lateral or entry level, is vetted through an extremely rigorous background investigation process. This involves a physical examination, drug screen, review of the applicant’s finances, neighborhood canvass, and interviews with employers. The applicant encounters 3 levels of oral interviews with department investigators and command staff. This process also includes a polygraph examination and a psychological evaluation.

We have reviewed Detective Conklin’s personnel and training files. We have examined each internal affairs complaint individually. The federal lawsuit against Detective Conklin was unanimously dismissed by the jury. Two complaints were found to be attributed to training deficiencies on behalf of the New Haven Police Department and another resulted in a 1-day suspension. For the last 3 years of his 5 year career in New Haven, he has excelled in his profession and has not been the subject of any internal affairs or discipline investigations.

We have spoken to his family, co-workers, supervisors and a sergeant in the internal affairs department, all of whom concurred that Daniel has matured into well-rounded, competent police officer. Chief Koskinas has personally spoken to Chief Campbell of the New Haven Police Department regarding Detective Conklin and received a very favorable recommendation. Further, Chief Campbell stated, “If there was ever a sensitive investigation to be handled involving my family, or anyone, I would want him [Conklin] to investigate it.”

Because of his strong work ethic, Detective Conklin was appointed by the New Haven Chief of Police to the gang unit. In 2016, he was promoted to the rank of detective and assigned to the major crimes division of the New Haven Police Department. Both are prestigious assignments which come with incredible responsibility. Detective Conklin was highly recommended by his supervisors and the State’s Attorney’s Office due to his investigative skills and his sensitivity to victims and their families.

Over the last 3 years, 16 of 18 new police department hires have been lateral applicants joining us from other Connecticut law enforcement agencies. We have had great success from our lateral hiring process. We have hired lieutenants from the Norwalk and Orange Police Departments, sergeants from Woodbridge and Waterbury, detectives from Waterbury, West Haven, Trumbull and Orange, and officers from Monroe, Bridgeport, Trumbull, Ridgefield, Naugatuck and Torrington. Each officer brings with him or her a great deal of knowledge and experience. Detective Conklin is no different.

Once hired, every new officer faces a mandatory probationary period with the Westport Police Department. Chief Koskinas stated, “I have an obligation to make decisions that are in the best interest of our officers, the citizens and the Town of Westport. I would never recommend hiring someone that would put any of these groups at risk. We are confident that Daniel Conklin will be an asset to the police department and the Town of Westport.”

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe added, “During the last 24 hours, I have received a significant number of phone calls and e-mails regarding the hiring of Daniel Conklin, and I appreciate the concerns that residents have raised.  After in-depth review and discussion with Police Chief Foti Koskinas, I am confident that we have fully vetted Detective Conklin’s background and that we understand the circumstances surrounding those events that took place early in his career. He will continue to be subject to review through the department’s mandatory, lengthy, and rigorous, probationary period. This time period will give his supervisors additional opportunities to further train and evaluate his performance as an officer in Westport’s outstanding Police Department.”

Westport Vehicle Break-Ins: Don’t Be A Victim!

An alert and concerned “06880” reader writes:

I learned this weekend from neighbors that there were 3 car break-ins on my street (Hunt Club Lane, near Long Lots) 2 weeks ago. A friend posted on Facebook that locked cars were broken into, and a locked car was stolen on her street.

The police told the Westport resident whose car was stolen that there is a trend in stealing Audis. If you’ve taken your car in for service to certain dealerships, car keys are being copied, addresses noted and cars being stolen.

Police advice to our neighbors was to lock cars, remove garage door openers from cars, and park them (especially Audis) in the garage. They also noted that these individuals may be armed, so be careful. Pretty scary.

Also scary that the 3 break-ins on my street, although reported to police, were not found via public search of crimes in our area. So the crime statistics seem to be under-reported.

I asked the Westport Police Department to respond. Lieutenant David Farrell got back immediately. He says:

In the past 6 months, Westport has had 18 stolen vehicles. Fifteen were recovered and processed by detectives. Six arrests have been made. Detectives are awaiting lab results on 8 other cases.

All stolen vehicles were unlocked, with the keys inside the vehicles. We urge residents to do their part, and lock their vehicles.

The nights when these vehicles were stolen, there were several motor vehicle break-ins as well. There have been 14 arrests in these cases. Many were linked to a juvenile who had also stolen a car in the area, and was caught. The police currently have active warrants and potential leads in other cases.

Press releases regarding arrests are sent out. The most recent was last week. Some arrests have even been made using DNA hits. Westport is one of the few police departments in the state collecting DNA from recovered stolen vehicles.

I could  not agree more that heightening awareness regarding this trend is necessary. That is why we have released several public service announcements advising people to lock their car doors and bring keys and fobs inside. We have put the same message on our Facebook page.

Westport is not alone in being targeted. Every surrounding town is experiencing the same crimes. We continue to partner with our neighboring towns to work on this problem.

The Westport Police Department is actively addressing this issue. We have the full support of the selectman’s office regarding additional resources when needed. Extra officers and detectives are frequently assigned to the midnight shift in an effort to not only catch the perpetrators, but hopefully deter the crime before it occurs.

We don’t want the bad guys to know our secrets. But rest assured, we are doing all we can.

Regarding the information about Audis and dealerships: Although this type of crime exists, we have not experienced it in Westport.

Nearly all of the vehicle break-ins here have been unlocked cars. The trend is to pull door handles until one is found unlocked. Then the criminal simply pushes the start button, hoping the fob was left in the car. Gone are the days of actually breaking into a vehicle and compromising the ignition.

We will continue to do our part, as we always do. We hope the public does their part: lock all doors, bring keys inside, keep outside lights on, and call 911 immediately if suspicious activity is observed.

Police Union Rejects Pension Contract

A controversial pension agreement — agreed to by the union executive board, and approved after hours of debate by the RTM — has been rejected by Westport police officers.

Under the agreement, current employees would pay 40% of the cost of their health insurance at the time of retirement. That amount would be frozen.

New hires (as of July 1, 2017) would be required to pay 40% of the cost of health insurance, and would not be frozen.

The retirement age would rise to 52, from 49.

A union representative called the margin of defeat “overwhelming.”

First selectman Jim Marpe said the town will meet with union leadership soon, to resume contract talks.

“I remain confident that we can reach an agreement which continues to provide excellent retirement benefits consistent with the fiscal challenges the Town faces today and in the future,” Marpe added.

“I know I reflect the opinion of all Westport residents when I express my appreciation for the dedication, bravery and professionalism that our police officers exhibit every day in protecting and serving our community.”

Westporters Fight Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force wants to make everyone aware of the issue — and what can be done about it.

The group has collected gift certificates from more than a dozen local salons. (One owner donated because her mother was a victim of abuse.) Haircuts and colors help women in shelters start new lives. Some are preparing for job interviews. Others need to change their appearance to avoid abusers.

The salons will be thanked on Saturday, October 14, at the Westport Unitarian Church Voices Cafe. All proceeds from Pierce Pettis’ performance will be donated to the salon drive. (Click here for tickets.)

Meanwhile, this Sunday (October 1), pinwheels will be displayed on Jesup Green. There’s one for every domestic violence call the Police Department received this year.

The chilling reminder that domestic abuse happens in Westport — as it does everywhere — remains on display all month.

Next Tuesday (October 3), volunteers from our police and fire departments will join Domestic Violence Task Force members at the Westport and Greens Farms train stations. They’ll hand out informational palm cards to commuters.

And on Wednesday, October 25 (Unitarian Church, 7 p.m.), Lisa Aronson Fontes — a noted author, therapist, researcher and professor — will discuss coercive control in relationships.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month ends on October 31. Of course, the issue will not go away that day.

But in Westport, concerned citizens are doing all they can to help.

Marpe: Police, Fire Pension Contracts Now Up For Ratification

Following this morning’s post on the Westport police union’s stance on pension contract negotiations, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe issued this statement:

Both the police and firefighter union executive boards have reached agreement with the town on their pension contracts, and are presenting them to their membership for ratification.

We value all Westport employees including those in our public safety departments and are pleased that these agreements have been reached.

Ratification or rejection of those pension contracts is the next step. “06880” will report on those votes, when they are taken.

Police Union Sends SOS To Town

The Westport Police are always there for us.

But now, many officers fear, the town may not be there for them.

A member of the police union board tells “06880” that the department is in the midst of pension negotiations. He says they’re not going well.

The union member explains that when current officers joined the force, their contract called for them to pay 10% of their base salary into a pension fund. That’s among the highest in Connecticut.

In return, they were guaranteed retirement at half of their final salary with 20 years’ service — while being responsible for their own medical costs.

Pension benefits are calculated using only base salaries — no overtime.

A patrolman’s maximum salary is about $84,900. Police officers don’t receive Social Security; they stopped paying into it after a contract change many years ago.

Half of the base salary works out to roughly $42,000. But after paying 40% of medical benefits and taxes, he says, that’s hardly enough to live on here.

The current pension contract expired July 1, 2016. (A separate work contract has already been ratified.)

A number of the 64 officers on the force chafe at the town’s offer. “We work midnight shifts, weekends and holidays,” the officer says.

“We give up a lot of family time. Any traffic stop or emergency call could be our last. We can be sued civilly. Our life expectancy is less than people who are not police officers.”

Police officers never know what they’ll encounter during a traffic stop.

They’ve made some concessions in negotiations — including raising the retirement age from 49 to 52.

But talks stalled. The union’s final offer was rejected by the town.

Now they’re in arbitration. Three people — one selected by the town, one by the police union, the third neutral — will rule on one offer or the other.

The union board member says that if citizens contact their RTM members and first selectman, the town has the option to pull out of arbitration.

He notes that Westport is in “great shape” financially. The grand list has increased 15.4% since 2010.

“The great school system, parks, beaches and attractions make Westport a desirable place to live,” he says. “But they come at a price. That price is your employees. Without dedicated and hard-working employees, none of the things that make Westport unique would hold true.

“People think there’s a golden parachute. The reality is very different. We just want what we were promised.”

The union board member believes that “the fair and most logical thing the town should do is leave the current employees’ benefit alone.”

The town will change new hires’ pensions. The half-pension, half-401k hybrid “will be in Westport’s pocket going forward,” he notes.

“We took this job with the expectation we’d have certain pension benefits at retirement,” he adds. “We see this as a slap in the face to people who provide tremendous service to the town.”

He concludes, “Whenever someone in Westport needs help, they call the police. Now the Westport police need your help. Contact your RTM member, or speak directly to the first selectmen. Let them know you care.”

Summer Soiree At Pearl To Benefit 1st Responders

Westport is blessed with amazing police officers, firefighters and EMS crews.

We often say, “We can’t thank them enough.”

Here’s a way to start.

Next Saturday (September 2, 7 to 10 p.m.), Pearl at Longshore is hosting a Summer Soiree Party on its patio. With partners Valor Spirits and The Greatest Blaze, they’re donating proceeds from ticket sales to those 3 first responder departments in Westport and Fairfield.

The Greatest Blaze is an aptly named Greenwich lifestyle and premium firewood company. Valor Spirits has a long history of donating 10% of all proceeds to organizations that serve Americans.

Tickets ($75 per person, discounts for groups of 6 or more) include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, music, raffle prizes and an auction. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

The Pearl of Longshore patio is a perfect place to honor first responders..

“Where Are Your Papers?” A Westporter Reacts

Alert “06880” reader Robert Birge is a marketing professional, investor and entrepreneur. He’s lived in Westport “almost 9 years, non-contiguously.” His activities include “regular consumption of food at our fine restaurants, chasing around 4 children, and trying to drive courteously.”

Last week, his kids’ nanny told him a disturbing story. Robert explains:

Someone she identified as a police officer asked her for her “papers” while waiting at the Westport train station. It happens that she is Latina. It also happens that she is a citizen of these United States of America.

Regrettably, we likely won’t learn who perpetrated this indignity. After a thorough investigation, Westport Chief of Police Foti Koskinas and Deputy Chief Vincent Penna strongly believe that whoever harassed our nanny is not a Westport police officer.

I’m not entirely convinced. However, I believe their view is reasonable, and I respect they have a different vantage point. I can only say it’s unclear who stopped her, and that there are sound reasons to doubt it was a Westport officer.

I find the details uninteresting now. That she suffered this indignity saddens me. Our nanny is a wonderful person. She cares for our 3 young boys as if they were her own. She’s exceedingly competent and industrious, and she always wears a smile. She’s the proud mother of two UConn graduates. Our community is fortunate to count her as a member.

Immigrants, legal and likely illegal, provide significant support to our rarefied town. While our community has time to wage fiery debates over high school essays on white privilege and unearned advantages, hundreds of immigrants make their way to Westport every morning to care for our children, clean our homes, tend our lavish gardens, and help build our beautiful houses. Westport would not be Westport without them. Any view to the contrary is patently false.

I grew up in New Mexico and Colorado. I learned at a young age to treasure the contributions and culture of the Hispanic community, along with every other group that has come to this country and helped make it great.

I’m also a vocal “member” of #TheResistance. I realize not everyone in Westport shares my views, but the voting patterns and my impressions of the typical Westport resident lead me to believe I’m among predominantly like-minded people. Westport is not Maricopa County, Arizona.

Two immediate family members have spent years in the federal criminal justice system. I’m confident this incident would not pass standards for probable cause or equal treatment.

My primary question after hearing this story was: “Is it possible this has spilled over into Westport?” I’m happy to share that Chief Koskinas and Deputy Chief Penna’s actions and words answered that question for me with an unequivocal NO! I also commend them for their responsiveness to a community concern.

I’m told the investigation has not implicated one of our officers, the MTA police or the Amtrak police. That leaves the possibility that a layperson harassed our nanny. I find this possibility more disturbing. I’d rather think that one jerk had a bad day and acted poorly, especially knowing the values coming from Chief Koskinas. If it happens again, I hope the community reports it. I’m confident our police department’s leaders would pursue the culprit vigorously.

I also believe it’s important to discuss a few comments I’ve received asserting that I should have allowed the police to investigate the incident before reporting it on social media. This is a choice we’re all granted as part of our right to speak freely. I respect that others would choose differently, but I stand by my choice. I know my nanny, and I know what she told me.

She was harassed by some racist in my town. I was and remain furious. I also believe the current climate necessitates vigilance toward every incursion on our civil liberties no matter how benign. Further, where should citizens or the press draw that line? If I had recorded a video like the Rodney King incident, should I have withheld the video from the public until a fair trial had been completed? I don’t think so.

Public discourse of wrongdoing and due process under the law are different matters. For example, anyone arrested in Westport will find their name, alleged crime and full color mugshot on Facebook right away. Even if you’re later fully exonerated, the damage done to your reputation would be hard to reverse. While the media surely enjoys the US Attorney’s penchant for high profile perp walks, I feel differently about the Westport police department employing public shaming in our small town. The point is that it’s a choice we all have a right to make.

It’s important to me to close this post with an expression of gratitude toward our police. Like most things in Westport, I believe we’re fortunate when it comes to our police. I’ve always found them to be efficient, extremely present, and friendly. I believe they keep my family safe. My wife Melissa and I intend to raise our children with the same respect for officers of the law that we have, because their position deserves that respect.

Cops And Parkers

As sure as I post photos of some of the most ridiculous, self-centered, entitled parking scenes in Westport — like Monday’s jaw-dropping Trader Joe’s spectacle — readers respond with 2 comments:

  • Someone should have called the cops!
  • You’ve got their license plate right there! Send this photo to the police!

An alert “06880” reader — who asked for anonymity — decided to find out what the cops think of all this.

Deputy chief Vincent J. Penna quickly responded.

He explained that in this case, Trader Joe’s is a private lot. Though the police have some power to enforce motor vehicle laws there — like DUI, reckless operation and evading responsibility — parking enforcement is limited to fire lane and handicap space violations.

“Parking in a private lot is generally enforced by the property owner,” Penna says.

As for sending a photo: Sure, any citizen can provide a sworn statement detailing the infraction to the police. They’ll issue a ticket based on that statement.

However, if the driver pleads not guilty, then the officer — and the citizen — would both be subpoenaed to court.

Oh, yeah: The identity of the person making the complaint — and that person’s address — are public record.

“This tends to deter most people,” Penna notes.

Meanwhile, keep those photos comin’. We may not get any of these very entitled d-bags arrested.

But there’s nothing wrong with a little public shame.

Monday’s infamous Trader Joe’s photo. The license plate is clearly visible.