Chief: Police To Establish Volunteer Service Award in Jim Cole’s Honor


New Canaan’s police chief said the department is creating a new award to honor a recently deceased town resident known for his active volunteerism in the community, including with emergency response agencies.

James S. Cole

Among other roles, Jim Cole had served as head of New Canaan’s Police Commission, Fire Commission and Office of Emergency Management, and was known in town as an architect of the Community Emergency Response Team. 

He died Feb. 5 at age 81 following a brief illness.

Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said it was “clear to me that we had to do something” in considering of Cole’s volunteer work and the “thousands of hours he gave to the town in different capacities.”

The New Canaan Police Department is establishing a Volunteer Service Award in Cole’s name, the chief said.

The Cole award would represent just the second such NCPD honor that could be earned by a civilian.

“We have lots of people that volunteer in different capacities—whether you look at New Canaan [Emergency Medical Services] or CERT or the Fire Company volunteers—so it could be anyone who is contributing substantially,” Krolikowski said. “It could be someone who helps us resolve an incident or contributes in some other capacity.”

The Police Department command staff will decide on honorees. The new award in Cole’s memory will be brought before the Police Commission at its meeting Wednesday, Krolikowski said.

Cole’s passing took many in town by surprise. As news spread, residents and emergency response leaders reflected on the longtime New Canaanite’s diverse and important volunteer activities, the high regard in which Cole was held and the indelible mark he left on the community. Emergency Management Director Mike Handler called him “an unsung hero.”

A Baltimore native who worked professionally in finance, Cole moved to New Canaan in 1994 and would marry Nancy Upton, his wife for 23 years. He became a member of the Congregational church of New Canaan and there served on the Board of Deacons, Pastoral Care Leadership, Stephen Ministries and Men’s Fellowship. 

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on March 23 at the Congregation Church.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *