A 16-year New Canaan Police veteran has earned one of the department’s highest honors, Chief Leon Krolikowski said Thursday.
Officer Rex Sprosta, a U.S. Marines veteran hired by NCPD in October 2004 is winner of the 2020 Lt. Stephen W. Wood Officer of the Year Award.
Created in 2014 and first earned by Wood’s own son-in-law, the award is designed to “honor and memorialize a beloved member of our department,” Krolikowski said in a a press release.
A U.S. Marine veteran himself, Wood served the town from 1977 to 2009 and “was taken from us far too young,” Krolikowski said.
“Nomination and selection for this award is the result of exceptional work, integrity, and overall service to our Town and Department,” the chief said in the press release.
Sprosta, a patrolman and active sergeant, dispatcher and field training officer, is head of the NCPD Bicycle Patrol Unit, Physical Fitness Program and and Safety Seat Installation Programs.
“One of the most important programs he helped spearhead was our Peer Support Program,” Krolikowski said in the award citation.
“Officer Sprosta’s professionalism, calm demeanor, and willingness to listen to others are invaluable traits that make him a perfect fit for this program. Whether on or off duty, he is always willing to assist his fellow officers through difficult situations. He has exceptional mentoring skills and is dedicated to helping and supporting his fellow officers.”
Sprosta’s concerns for others extends beyond the Police Department, too, Krolikowski said.
He “shows sincere concern for the residents he encounters daily” and “takes the time to get to know people and provides courteous and professional service,” the chief said.
Members of the wider New Canaan community and fellow officers have recognized Sprosta multiple times in filing letters of appreciation with the department, for his work on car seat installation, help in police training and ability to listen. Three years ago, he and Officer Thomas Callinan saved the life of a fellow New Canaan Police officer.
“Officer Sprosta consistently demonstrates exemplary leadership skills and encourages his fellow officers through positive reinforcement,” Krolikowski said in the press release. “Our Department is better because of Officer Sprosta’s contributions to his fellow officers and the New Canaan community. He is one of our very best officers, and he takes pride in wearing our uniform and coming to work to serve the community.”
The chief described Sprosta’s attitude as “professional, caring, and cooperative,” saying those are “qualities that we all should emulate.”
In addition to Sprosta, five other officers were nominated for this year’s award by their supervisors: .
They “are six out of our 47 officers, all of whom deserve our gratitude for protecting and serving our great Town,” Krolikowski said in the press release.
Here are their citations:
- Sergeant Peter Condos has been a member of the New Canaan Police Department for over thirty years and is assigned to the Investigative Section. His vast knowledge of the law and investigative skills have served the Department exceptionally well over the years. Sergeant Condos handles many of our financial crimes cases. He has successfully closed countless cases with arrests not only due to his investigative methods but his keen interview skills. Sergeant Condos is always willing to share his expertise and mentor fellow officers and new investigators.
- Officer Connolly has been a member of the Department since 2003. He is assigned to the patrol division, and his roles include Bicycle Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, TASER Instructor, and he is a member of our Crisis Intervention Team. Officer Connolly is known for his integrity and thorough and detailed orientated work. He sets an excellent example for our Department with his level of professionalism and integrity.
- Officer Kelly Coughlin has been a member of the Department since 2015 and is assigned to our patrol division and recently became the Department’s Community Impact Officer. Officer Coughlin comes to work with a positive attitude and an eagerness to take on extra duties and responsibilities. She is a Project Life Saver Officer, School Liaison Officer at Country School, and is the department photographer. She is dedicated to improving the Department and is always willing to assist with projects and events. Officer Coughlin’s attitude and team spirit make her an asset to our Department.
- Officer Shane Gibson has been a member of the Department since 2014. He is assigned to the patrol division. In addition, Officer Gibson is a Dispatcher, Field Training Officer, School Liaison Officer at St. Luke’s School and is a member of our Special Response Team and Honor Guard. Officer Gibson is very detail and goal-oriented. He possesses a high degree of personal motivation and goes above and beyond without being asked. For example, he restructured the Department’s Arrest and Control Program and assisted in setting up a training area for our officers to enhance their skills. Officer Gibson is a true professional.
- Officer Owen Ochs has been with the Department since 2017 and is assigned to the patrol division. When not fulfilling his Dispatch duties, Officer Ochs demonstrates a high level of self-initiated activity on patrol. He is dedicated to following through on every case he is assigned. His diligence throughout 2020 resulted in six arrest warrants signed by a Superior Court Judge for suspects who may not have been brought to justice has it not been for Owen’s good work.