Newest New Canaan Police Officer Sworn In; Tam Receives ‘Officer of the Year Award’; 8 Officers, 3 Civilians Honored

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The New Canaan Police Department on Tuesday recognized eight officers and three civilians for outstanding service to the community during a ceremony that also saw the agency’s newest member sworn in by the town clerk.

Town Clerk Claudia Weber (R) swears in New Canaan Police Officer Nicole Vartuli while Chief Leon Krolikowski stands by, during a ceremony at Lapham Community Center on June 27, 2017. Credit: Michael Dinan

In addressing Nicole Vartuli, a Stamford native and Westhill High School graduate who is poised for training at the Connecticut Police Academy this year with an expectation that she will undergo field training with NCPD through the early part of 2018, Chief Leon Krolikowski said that “badge you were just issued represents public trust.”

“The public willingly puts this work in your hands and trusts that you will take care of them in the proper manner,” Krolikowski said moments after Vartuli had been sworn in by Town Clerk Claudia Weber. “They do not want this responsibility for themselves. My charge to you today is to do just that: Get it right. We have all heard about the stories of officers who have gotten it wrong. Sadly we rarely hear about the overwhelmingly positive stories of officers who get it right every day. Remember that not everyone will automatically understand what you are doing as a police officer or why you make certain decisions. Realize there will be times when your actions will be the biggest and most important thing that can ever happen in someone’s life. My final charge for you today is to protect your credibility, our department’s credibility, and maintain your honor. Our department and the entire community wish you the best and we are most grateful to have you with us. Welcome to New Canaan. Congratulations.”

He addressed about 100 family members, friends and colleagues of Vartuli and those being honored, who gathered for the hour-long ceremony and subsequent gathering at the town-owned building.

Those in attendance included Selectman Beth Jones and Police Commissioners Stuart Sawabini, chairman, and Sperry DeCew. Krolikowski acknowledged them and also thanked First Selectman Rob Mallozzi and Selectman Nick Williams for their support of the department.

Sgt. Brian Mitchell, the department’s training officer, outlined the rigorous schedule that Vartuli now will undergo, at the academy and then during field training in New Canaan.

Vartuli herself addressed the crowd, thanking Krolikowski, the town, Police Commission and “my friends and family for pushing me 110 percent and I would not want it any other way.”

“I look forward to becoming one of the community while helping individuals and organizations in any way possible,” she said. “Also thank you to my Stamford PD family. At the end of the day, we are all part of the big picture and we are on the journey together, so thank you.

The officers and civilians listed below received individual awards from the department. See photo gallery above for specific citation information:

In the case of Dubin, a Wilton man who rescued an unconscious motorist from a burning car, he told those gathered that he came upon the scene unexpectedly while driving his son home from school.

“I just would like to say that it took me the better part of 55 years to do one thing remotely heroic, and I am acutely aware that in this room that there are people who dedicate their lives, who give their whole lives and their careers and on a daily basis do the extraordinary, and that puts this into context for me,” he said.

In receiving the Officer of the Year Award, Tam thanked his family, friends, commissioners, chief and captains.

“I would like to start off by saying how humbled I am to receive this award,” Tam said. “We have so many great officers in this department, and I am grateful to be selected as the officer of the year. My [FTO] field training officer, [then] Sgt. LaTourette has told me many stories about Lt. Stephen Wood and I wish I would have met him. I want to start off by saying ‘thank you’ to my family—my father, my mother and my sister. Without you, I would not be where I am now. You have built me up with high morals, integrity and respect, which I have carried through to my police work.”

Tam also thanked his colleagues on the 3-to-11 p.m. shift.

“It’s going to be Lt. Walsh, Capt. Walsh now, Lt. Ogrinc, Sgt. Casy, Officer Romano, Gulino, Dewey, Gibson, Coughlin, Sheehan, Obando and Blank,” he said. “Thank you for giving me the guidance and teaching me to become a good police officer. I know I could always look up to you guys, and you will always guide me toward the right direction. I once rode with Officer Gulino and he said one thing that has always stuck with me, and that is, ‘We only have each other out here.’ The 3-11 shift as a whole embodies the whole mentality, constantly self-dispatching and backing each other up and with a common goal of going home at night.”

Tam also acknowledged the Special Response Team, saying, “I would not mind going into any hostile environment with any of you guys.”

“Train hard and get after it,” he said.

“Finally, I would like to thank Sgt. LaTourette, my FTO, for teaching me how to become the police officer that I am today. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be an aggressive pursuer of people in today’s society. Often, the public is not aware of the dangers we face and the sadness we see on a daily basis. Right or wrong, our actions are regularly scrutinized and second-guessed by the public and press from the confines of a safe and secure home and office. Being a law officer is a voluntary force. Remember what you signed up for, to protect the Constitution, to protect the town of New Canaan, and the state of Connecticut.”

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