L-R: New Canaan Police Capt. Vincent DeMaio, newly promoted Lt. Carol Ogrinc and her husband John, at a Sept. 15, 2015 ceremony at Lapham Community Center. Ogrinc in offering a few words for the occasion thanked her past supervisors and Police Commission members, and also said: "On a personal level, I have and still receive so much support from my family, who once again must make adjustments to my new schedule of the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. I think they thought those days were over. So John, Zach and my son Chris, who could not be here tonight, thank you. I am the youngest of five kids, and younger siblings tend to look up to their older siblings. My sister Sue, who is here tonight, probably has no idea that much of what she has accomplished in her life and career has impacted me in such a positive way. Even though we have taken two very different career paths, her success as a leader helped me realize that anything is possible. As I have been working for two months on the night shift, I am fortunate to have experienced and seasoned officers who know the job and do it well. They are a close-knit group, always looking out for one another, and I am proud to be a part of that shift. In closing, I want to once again thank my family for all their love and support. Thank you to all my brother and sister officers, friends and guests who came out tonight." Credit: Michael Dinan
New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski (L) salutes Lt. Jason Ferraro during a Sept. 15, 2015 ceremony in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center. Officer Jeff Deak stands on the right. Ferraro and Deak earned the Meritorious Police Duty Award for their work in developing the Special Response Team. Part of what Capt. Vincent DeMaio said in presenting the award was: ". In 2007 when Jason and Jeff assumed command of the SRT team they quickly went to work to dramatically improve the team’s operational capabilities. They worked diligently to acquire the training, the additional manpower and equipment needed to make our SRT a first-class outfit. They received donations for the funding and purchase of a dedicated SRT vehicle that’s affectionately known as the ‘Honey Badger.’ Proper uniforms and body armor for all team members, proper communications, the addition of three officers to the team, bringing from 7 to 10 members, sniper training equipment to properly staff a sniper team, most recently the addition of ACR rifles which allowed us to rotate their old rifles into the patrol division, thereby making our town that much safer and our officers that much safer, improving our daily response capabilities … These guys really have done a tremendous job. These two gentlemen really put their heart and soul into this team and made it what it is today—a mdoel for what a small department Special Response Team can be capable of. I will tell you as a commander, I was always grateful to know I had such a high-caliber response team ready to deploy at any point in time. In this business we have the ability to request and receive resources from other jurisdictions in times of crisis, but I always knew my guys would deliver the best possible result, and that is a feeling you can’t get past. You can’t buy that." Credit: Michael Dinan
New Canaan Police Capt. Vincent DeMaio (L) applauds for newly promoted Sgt. Aaron LaTourette, who hugs his two boys while wife Kim looks on, at a Sept. 15, 2015 ceremony at Lapham Community Center. Some of what LaTourette said during an impromptu speech was: "I have had many opportunities throughout my life growing up. I was very fortunate to grow up on a family dairy farm. I think I learned a lot of very valuable life lessons, and I would just like to thank my mom and dad, who are here this evening. Joined the Marine Corps. Obviously the Marine Corps is nothing if not a leadership institution and one of the best branches of the military that the United States has to offer. I think if it wasn’t for the Marine Corps I might not have gotten this job, and I may not have been able to date my current wife. My father-in-law was a Marine as well. Like I said, I have been blessed with many opportunities. I was given the opportunity to be a police officer in New Canaan. Once hired, it seemed like anything I wanted to do, I was given an opportunity." He also thanked Lt. Jason Ferraro and Officer Jeff Deak specifically: "Their leadership and guidance over the years. They have shown us what a team should be, what a team is and developed us as leaders, so they have put us into the positions we are in today. They have made our team what it is today, so I cannot thank them enough." Credit: Michael Dinan
New Canaan Police Sgt. Marc DeFelice receives his new badge following a promotion, from his wife Carrie, at a Sept. 15, 2015 ceremony at Lapham Community Center. DeFelice thanked his parents and wife and others during a short speech, and of what he said was: "I started when I was 22, I was a young kid fresh from town, and I met my field training officer Jason Ferraro, and boy I will tell you it was 12 weeks of I don’t know how to describe it. But we made it through. He trained me well, he really was excellent. We read through every statute I think in the statute book but at end of day he did the right thing, he trained me to be a good cop, so thanks, Jason, and I also have some other field trainers here, Jeff Deak, Scott Romano, John DiFederico and with that training really was able to advance pretty quickly onto our SWAT team and I have been fort to be with these guys on SWAT team, traffic enforcement officer at PBA and a lot of other leadership roles before getting promoted to sergeant. I also have been able to train a lot of new guys which I really think a great opportunity, so I thank everyone for making me a great police officer." Credit: Michael Dinan
New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski salutes newly promoted Lt. Andrew Walsh during a Sept. 15, 2015 ceremony at Lapham Community Center while Walsh's wife Ashley looks on. Part of what Walsh said in addressing more than 100 people in attendance was: "In the current state of society’s affairs, it has become the accepted norm for a general disrespect for the rule of law, and oftentimes a blatant disregard for those who have taken upon the challenge of swearing to uphold the laws of the land—even when doing so can cost them their lives, which happens all too often. So you may ask yourself, ‘What keeps a police officer motivated in times like these?’ I can speak for myself when I say that it is not about power trips. It’s about public safety. It’s about believing that maintaining law and order are necessary for keeping the public peace. I believe that is how the members of the New Canaan Police Department feel about our purpose, and that is why I am proud to work with all of them. It’s not always easy and sometimes you need to look inside for motivation. Some of the best advice I have heard in my life has come from my father, who is here tonight. His advice has always been simple and to the point: Treat people with respect and serve a purpose. It was those words that led me to policing and it is those words that guide me in my career today. I believe that as long as I stick to that advice I will be able to serve in my new position well. And as a good, old-fashioned Irishman I think it is fitting that I leave you all with an old Irish blessing: As you slide down the banisters of life, may the splinters never face in your direction." Credit: Michael Dinan
Officer Shane Gibson (R) receives the Medical Service Award from Chief Leon Krolikowski (middle) while Capt. Vincent DeMaio looks on, during a Sept. 15, 2015 ceremony in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center. In his comments on Gibson's heroism from a few months ago, DeMaio said: "On May 19, Officer Gibson was working an extra duty detail job—the construction jobs which you see our officers working—listening to his radio, he realized there was an emergency medical call being called into 25 Elm St., the sushi restaurant that’s there. He knew he was close by, being alert he immediately responded to the restaurant and once inside, he found a woman unable to breath and beginning to turn blue. Through his training and experience, he calmly told her he was going to help her, he performed an abdominal thrust and removed the obstruction so the woman started breathing on her own prior to EMS arriving, thus saving her life. I think this is just one instance and one highlight of the tremendous job that Shane does for us each and every day. We really could not be more proud of him and his alertness, his commitment to duty, he really is an exemplary officer." Credit: Michael Dinan
Newly promoted Sgt. Marc DeFelice of the New Canaan Police Department describes his uncle, Dinny Lapolla, as a man of few words.
“So when he talks, he makes his point,” DeFelice told a roomful of fellow officers and their families, town officials and guests on Tuesday night.
During a special ceremony that saw DeFelice officially was promoted to the rank of sergeant—his was one of four promotions made on the night, in addition to three special awards given to other officers (see gallery above for information and quotes from honorees)—the New Canaan High School graduate recalled what his uncle, himself a 30-year veteran of the force, told him on getting hired.
“He said, ‘Go out there and do the right thing,’ ” DeFelice recalled from a podium in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center. “ ‘Do not harass people—help them. And if you use your heart and your head, you will do the right thing.’ And he said, ‘Just don’t harass your supervisors either.’ ”
Uncle Dinny phoned DeFelice repeatedly on the night of promotion interviews, eager to hear whether his nephew had achieved the rank of sergeant. Finally, when DeFelice got the good news, Lapolla shared more sound advice for his nephew. “He kept it short and brief,” DeFelice recalled. “He said, ‘You know when I told you when you started as a cop, I said don’t harass your supervisors? Now you are in charge of guys,’ he said. ‘You are entrusted with their safety, so don’t harass them. Let them go out and do the job and they will do it to the best of their ability and do it just fine.’ ”
It’s advice that DeFelice said he has heeded since joining NCPD at a 22-year-old, and speaks perhaps to a feeling of mutual respect and recognition that was tangible at the promotion and awards ceremony.
Attended by more than 100 people—including Selectman Beth Jones, Police Commissioners Stuart Sawabini, Paul Foley and Sperry Decew, the Police Chaplain for all New Canaan emergency services, Msgr. William Scheyd of St. Aloysius Church and Greenwich Police Chaplain Emeritus and pastor of New Canaan Baptist Church, the Rev. David Hickman—the evening included the New Canaan Police Honor Guard, and with Capt. John DiFederico looking on, saw Chief Leon Krolikowski recognize each promoted officer in turn, spotlighting their years of service and special commendations earned, and Capt. Vincent DeMaio remove each officer’s former badge and replace it with a new one, signifying higher rank in the department.
DeMaio in opening remarks called it a “very big” and even “historic” evening, in part because New Canaan Police saw the department promote its first woman, Sgt. Carol Ogrinc, to the rank of lieutenant.
The ceremony also saw Lt. Jason Ferraro and Officer Jeff Deak receive the Meritorious Police Duty Award for their work in developing the Special Response Team (see photo and caption in gallery above) and Officer Shane Gibson—removed from probationary status hours earlier by the Police Commission, by a unanimous vote—earned the Medical Service Award for saving a choking woman’s life downtown in May.
“We are very proud of all our officers this evening, for their willingness to take on the added responsibility of ensuring the people we serve continue to receive the highest quality law enforcement services in the country,” DeMaio said. “The command staff will rely on them to maintain the highest levels of professionalism and performance in their subordinates and we expect them to exemplify the high standards of honestly, integrity and respect. They must walk the walk and be the personification of excellence.”
And that’s increasingly difficult, given the temperature of the general public when it comes to police in general, the captain said.
“Being a police officer has always been difficult, but I don’t think it has been as difficult as we find it in this recent year, when people have the attitude that our lives are expendable and it is OK to hate the police and OK to target the police. These are difficult times we live in. We constantly see crowds on TV, shouting, ‘What do we want? A dead cop.’ You start to realize that only those with the strongest resolve and the strongest commitment to duty can stand on this thin blue line each and every day, and then you can begin to appreciate how truly special they are.”
Addressing the entire room—toward the end of the ceremony, the spouses and significant others of the honored officers were asked to stand and be recognized—DeMaio said he understood the great sacrifices that families of police make.
“We must continue to perform our jobs faithfully until society again realizes the value of what we do,” DeMaio said. “There are a bunch of people running around out there today trying to convince people that we are bad guys. But we are not the bad guys. The freedoms enjoyed by everyone in this great country would not exist without the dedication and professionalism of our police officers. Be proud of the badge. Every day when you put it on, let the world see who we really are—courageous, compassionate warriors who stand at the edge of darkness to protect all those would do others harm and replace peace and tranquility with fear, suspicion and violence.”
The evening also included a special “badge” placed on the department’s new K-9 dog, Apollo, and words of praise for K-9 Officer David Rivera, who underwent training and now works with the dog, who already has assisted in finding drugs on motorists during numerous traffic stops and worked during missing person incidents.
Here is a video of Apollo getting his badge, followed by some additional information on the promoted officers:
Lt. Andrew Walsh: Lt. Walsh has served with the department for 15 years, filling many roles—patrol officer, dispatcher, patrol sergeant, DEA Task Force Agent, and is presently assigned to the Investigative Section. He is the Team Leader of the Department’s Special Response Team. During his career he has received many letters of appreciation and/or commendations for exceptional performance of his duties as well as three Meritorious Duty Awards. Lieutenant Walsh has a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
Lt. Carol Ogrinc: Lt. Ogrinc has served with the department for 27 years, acting in many roles – patrol officer, dispatcher, acting sergeant, and acting lieutenant. She has been the department’s Youth Officer and Press Information Officer since 2006. She has served as the department’s Communications Training Officer and E911 Manager for 14 years. In 2012, she implemented the department’s Project Lifesaver Program. During her career she has received many letters of appreciation and/or commendations for exceptional performance of her duties as well as two Meritorious Duty Awards and a Unit Citation award. Lt. Ogrinc has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. Lieutenant Ogrinc and her husband John have two sons.
Sgt. Aaron LaTourette: Sgt. LaTourette has served the department for 15 years. Sergeant LaTourette has been assigned to various positions including dispatcher, acting sergeant, firearms instructor, and Taser instructor. He is also a member of the Honor Guard and motorcycle patrol. Sgt. LaTourette is a member of the Department’s Special Response Team and was recently appointed as the Team’s Executive Officer. Sgt. LaTourette was the recipient of the “Lieutenant Stephen W. Wood Officer of the Year” award. He has also earned Mothers Against Drunk Driving awards as well as commendations for exceptional performance of his duties. Sgt. LaTourette attended State University of New York-Courtland. He is an 18-year veteran of U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, where he holds the rank of Warrant Officer 2. During his Marine Corps service he was deployed to Iraq where he participated in Operation Enduring Freedom 2. He is married to his wife Kimberly and they have two children.
Sgt. Marc DeFelice was promoted to Sergeant. Sgt. DeFelice has served the department for 12 years. He has filled the roles of dispatcher, acting sergeant and acting lieutenant, field training officer, business liaison officer and is a certified emergency medical technician. Sergeant DeFelice is a member of the department’s Special Response Team and Honor Guard. Most recently, Sgt. DeFelice has been assigned to the Investigative Section. Sgt. DeFelice has earned two Unit Citation Awards, Mothers Against Drunk Driving awards, a Medical Service Award, and the AAA Traffic Safety Award. Sgt. DeFelice has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and English, and a Master’s Degree in National Security and Public Safety. Sgt. DeFelice is a graduate of New Canaan High School. Sgt. DeFelice is married to his wife Carrie.