New Canaan Police Honor 15 Officers, One Civilian; First-Ever Lt. Stephen W. Wood Memorial Officer of the Year Award Given


Though he passed away nearly four years ago, Lt. Stephen W. Wood, in ways that are profound to those who worked with him, has remained with the New Canaan Police Department.

Addressing a room full of New Canaan police, their families and town officials that gathered at Lapham Community Center on Thursday morning—including Pat Wood, widow of the 33-year NCPD veteran—Capt. Vincent DeMaio said “his presence is felt pretty much every day.”

“I think of him often, and I think his memory is firmly in place with every officer worked with him,” DeMaio said during a ceremony that saw 15 police officers receive awards—including a new, special award dedicated to Wood’s memory.

The Lt. Stephen W. Wood Memorial Officer of the Year Award in its inaugural dedication went to the highly respected figure’s own son-in-law, NCPD Officer Aaron LaTourette.

Asked at the event what she thought and felt about the award, Pat Wood said: “It’s an honor. He would be honored.”

His daughter Kim, who was on hand with her sister Kelly, as well, said: “He was a say-it-like-it-is, do-it-like-it-is kind of guy. He was one of those old-time guys that you don’t see a lot of any more.”

In describing for the crowd what the man known as ‘Woody’ meant to New Canaan’s finest and the wider community here in town, DeMaio said, “Woody exemplified all the things that I believe everyone wants a police officer to be: honest, with integrity, courage, command presence and a sense of fairness and justice. Woody was a straight shooter. You always knew where you stood. You always knew where he was coming from. He always told you exactly what he thought—he was honest to a fault, truly. He loved the New Canaan Police Department and he was deeply devoted to it. He brought his Marine Corps values of espirit de corps and semper fidelis and fostered atmosphere of fairness, loyalty and a team approach. Even though he’s been gone for three years, his presence still alive and well in our building at 174 South Avenue.”

In addition to the awards given to NCPD officers, the department for the first time recognized a civilian as an honorary member.

Matt Walsh is a 16-year-old Iona Prep student who has developed a singular and abiding respect and fondness for NCPD officers, the police chief said.

“These days we can use all the fans we can get. And Matt is definitely a super fan of our department, no question about that,” Krolikowski told the crowd.

“Considering matt’s affinity for our department and our officers, I am proud to make Matt an honorary member of the New Canaan Police Department … So, Matt, thanks for your support, your interest, your dedication to our officers. I am confident you will continue to be our advocate and our superfan … Best wishes with your studies, and you are part of our family now.”

Here’s some background, from DeMaio, on the three awards for police—see each photo above for more specifics on those honored:

  • Unit Citation (received by 10 officers): Created to encourage and recognize officers for acting as a team, going the extra mile with all their activities, to pursue violators with dogged determination and to achieve goals as a unit and always looking to achieve beyond the obvious.
  • Meritorious Police Duty Award (received by five officers): it is presidents to officers who perform highly credible accomplishments, bringing acclaim to themselves, the department or the police profession as a result of training, devotion to duty or service to the public.
  • Lt. Stephen W. Wood Memorial Officer of the Year Award (single recipient): To be given to an active member of the New Canaan Police Department below the level of chief. Acts of heroism or bravery in the line of duty will be considered but will not be used as the only justification for the nomination. The nominated officer must be recommended by a supervisor of the department. There are a number of performance characteristics considered, such as self-initiating activity, community service and community relations, professional appearance, heroism, crime prevention, investigative work, drug control and prevention, demonstrated loyalty, integrity and positive contributions to the department. Nominations may be made for any exceptional achievement in police endeavors. “But I think, really, in the spirit of Woody, it’s that devotion to the department, that devotion to service, that really counts, that is the mark we are looking for here,” DeMaio said during the ceremony. “We are looking for officers that are going to perform and do their jobs for the right reasons, every single day, no matter what the circumstances.”

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