A 1994 New Canaan High School graduate and assistant coach of the varsity baseball team who has been serving as a police officer in town for more than a decade will start working the “downtown beat” next week under the re-launch of a widely praised and popular program, officials said Wednesday.
Officer Ron Bentley will “connect with merchants, residents and visitors in the center of town” as well as “deter criminal activity, enforce traffic laws and make our village a safer place to both visit and do business in” as the New Canaan Police Department’s designated Community Impact Officer, Chief Leon Krolikowski said in a press release.
“We are committed to better protecting and serving the New Canaan community in both an efficient and effective manner,” the chief said. “The CIO program is just one of the many ways in which we will fulfill our mission and commitment to our town.”
Bentley, who grew up on Millport Avenue, said during an interview with NewCanaanite.com that he is excited to connect with more people and merchants in the heart of the business district.
The longtime New Canaanite—an East School alumnus whose little brother, Charlie, is a New Canaan firefighter—said he put in for the role of CIO because he feels a strong affinity for New Canaan and sees the downtown beat as a way to strengthen even more effectively and directly relations between the department and wider community.
A role developed following a survey in 2013, the CIO position earned high praise from residents, downtown workers and business leaders. The popular program had come to a halt last year due to staffing shortfalls in the department, and the Police Commission announced earlier this month that it was returning.
Krolikowski credited the support of the commission as well as the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Town Council in helping the CIO program return, supporting a budget that maintained the NCPD’s full complement of 47 sworn officers.
Bentley as CIO will address pressing public safety matters for New Canaanites, the chief said.
“In the recent past, we have seen out-of-state career criminals come to our town and commit serious crimes,” Krolikowski said. “Moreover, we have had serious pedestrian accidents and an increase in distracted driving within the business district.”
Bentley—known to locals for his heroics in saving a baby’s life a few years ago—has performed a wide range of duties at NCPD, the chief said, including patrol officer, dispatcher, field training officer, bicycle patrol officer, honor guard officer and school resource officer. He also helped the department test out body cameras last summer.
“During his career, [Bentley] has received many letters of appreciation and recognition for the exceptional performance of his duties,” Krolikowski said.
Bentley officially starts May 31 in the CIO role.