Town officials on Monday night promoted Deputy Chief John DiFederico as chief of police in New Canaan.
The Police Commission also appointed Capt. Andrew Walsh as deputy chief.
The promotions, which follow the retirement of Police Chief Leon Krolikowski, will take effect Dec. 31 and come with standard three-month probationary periods, according to Commission Chair Paul Foley.
“Congratulations, gentlemen,” Foley said during the meeting, held at New Canaan Police Department headquarters and via videoconference. “A new step forward, which is just great. This is terrific.”
Following a discussion in executive session that included New Canaan Human Resources Director Cheryl Pickering Jones, Foley, Secretary Jim McLaughlin and Commissioner Shekaiba Bennett voted 3-0 in favor of the promotions.
A 30-year veteran of NCPD, DiFederico joined the department after graduating from Norwich University in Vermont, the oldest private military college in the United States. He became deputy chief in 2018.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue to serve,” DiFederico told NewCanaanite.com after the meeting. “This is the only place that I would like to be chief of police. I look forward to it and I have a good staff with me.”
Krolikowski is a 33-year NCPD veteran who has served as chief since 2013. He has taken a position as director of security for Darien Public Schools, officials announced last week.
Krolikowski last week received wide praise from New Canaan’s legislative body, the Town Council.
“We are here to thank you for your service to the town of New Canaan,” Council Chair Steve Karl said during the elected body’s Dec. 14 meeting at Town Hall.
“Thank you for all you have done,” Karl said. “You have put stability in that department. It has been very smooth and easy—you made it look easy, I know it hasn’t been. Every officer on the street is a reflection on you and what you have done.”
Councilman Mike Mauro, himself the son of a 30-year police officer, thanked Krolikowski for his service in NCPD and as a U.S. Marine, saying “it’s been a real pleasure” and noting the intrinsic dangers of the job.
“I’ve enjoyed working with you over the years,” Mauro said. “I was happy to support the New Canaan Police Department as much as possible.”
Mauro said that Krolikowski “served us admirably, with great distinction and integrity,” and added that he hoped what the chief does next in Darien will have a positive effect on the future of New Canaan Public Schools.
In addressing the Council, Krolikowski said he grew up in Bridgeport and Stratford, unfamiliar with New Canaan.
“When I was working a job in college I opened a newspaper and saw an ad for the New Canaan Police Department and I said, ‘Where is that?’ and I applied,” he said. “First job I applied to and got hired and been here ever since. And I was fortunate to come up through the ranks. Never thought I would get to be chief and the reality is why I wanted to advance through the ranks was I wanted to make things better for everyone and you can only do that when you are in positions where you can make changes that are everybody, and I think I’ve done that. And I think I’m very comfortable leaving the department at this stage. It’s in good hands. It’s in a good state. Better than I think it’s ever been and we’ve done some great work over the years in challenging times and collectively, together, you folks have supported us budget-wise and in other ways and you spending your time here collectively is impressive and uncompensated. I think it’s what America is all about and what New Canaan is all about. And we may not always agree on everything, but we can have a healthy debate as was demonstrated earlier tonight.”
He referred to a 30-minute debate about meeting minutes.
A town resident, Krolikowski noted that he’s staying in town.
“Who knows? One day I might get involved in government in some form or fashion,” he said. “We’ll see.”
“I think my whole life I have tried to be in a service profession in a lot of ways,” Krolikowski said. “I’m proud that my wife and kids do that in a lot of respects and I continue to do that, just differently in a different role. And it was something that, given what is going on in our nation, is really important these days. What is our most precious resource? Our kids. And if I can make things better in another community and maybe influence the New Canaan community in a different way, that’s a success. I’m sad to leave, and happy to be doing something a little bit different and in a different way.”
After addressing the Town Council, Krolikowski received a standing ovation and shook each councilman’s hand. In an exchange with Councilman Penny Young, he said, “ I’ll be around, don’t worry. I’ll be the guy commenting on the New Canaanite.” Young responded, “Oh God, not another one.”
Krolikowski echoed some of his remarks to the Town Council during Monday’s Police Commission meeting. He also thanked the Police Commission for its important volunteer work in allowing the police to take care of New Canaan residents.
“That is what we do: Protecting and serving the town,” Krolikowski said. “And I think we do it better than any other police department in our area if not Connecticut—it’s a little bit of a biased opinion, but I think we do, in a lot of different ways. And I’m very grateful for the work that the officers have done. The sacrifices they make. They’re not always recognized all the time for the work they do. But we try to do that more now than ever, and we should always focus on that. Without them, we can’t do what we do. There is no ‘i’ in ‘team,’ so there’s a team behind us. We try to lead things in a lot of different ways, but the everyday, 24/7 work is our officers. Thanks to them. I wish them safe, and hopefully as the future goes, everybody will lead in a different direction and make them even better than they are today, so that’s what my wish for the department is.”