This week on 0684-Radi0, our free weekly podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk to New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski about the violent assault on a woman walking in a residential neighborhood in broad daylight on Monday.
New Canaan has seen a dramatic increase in thefts from motor vehicles through the first four months of 2020, officials said last week. The larcenies increased from two in 2019 to 17 this year, according to Police Chief Leon Krolikowski. “People are just not locking their cars and [they are] leaving their keys in cars that are getting stolen,” Krolikowski said during a May 20 meeting of the Police Commission, held via videoconference.
“We did have a window broken on a vehicle and a lot of items stolen in it. I suspect because the thieves came in and saw so many valuable items in the car that they decided to break the window and take everything. But that is not the norm.
Ryan Krolikowski, a 2019 New Canaan High School graduate who will enter the U.S. Military Academy at West Point this year, first met Col. Peter C. Langenus when he was a boy.
Son of Anna Valente-Krolikowski and New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski, himself a former U.S. Marine, Ryan recalled Langenus as the commander of VFW Post 653 who led efforts each spring and fall to plant flags and wreaths, respectively, at the gravestones of all of those buried in New Canaan who had served in the military.
“I got to know him through that and got to know him as more of a friend as the years grew on, and learned what he did for our country, and what he does now, and all of the accolades he had received,” Ryan recalled. “And I really saw him as a kind of mentor, because he chose the path I really wanted to do, and he guided me toward going to West Point.”
A U.S. Army captain in Vietnam who also served as a colonel during Operation Desert Storm, Langenus died in January following a battle with cancer. Locals knew him as a steady figure who for years organized and presided over the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies in New Canaan, where the names of veterans who had passed since the prior ceremony were read aloud and where Langenus himself recited by heart the war poem “In Flanders Fields.” He also led efforts to update and display the plaques honoring New Canaan veterans that now greet visitors to Town Hall’s northern entrance.
Krolikowski soon will be the fourth generation in his family to serve in the U.S. military. He and three other scouts—Jack Goetz, Andrew Wilson and Henry Pohle—were to serve as grand marshals in this year’s parade, on Langenus’s recommendation.
Krolikowski’s own Eagle Scout project—the clearing out and plaque-ing of the Parade Hill Cemetery, where many veterans are buried, including some who died while serving—was taken on at Langenus’s suggestion.
“It was very unkempt and got really bad in recent years, and I took it on to improve it, because the veterans buried there, from the Revolution to the Civil Wars, deserved to be treated respectfully,” Krolikowski said.
Typically, on the weekend before Memorial Day, war veterans distribute poppies to honor the ultimate sacrifice of our nation’s veterans. However, due to the pandemic members of our local Veterans of Foreign War Post, 653 will not be distributing poppies.
Still, poppies will be available for no contact self-service in front of ACME, Dunkin’ Donuts, Walter Stewart’s Market and Zumbach’s. The significance of the poppy in honoring our nation’s war dead is traced to World War I.
From the battlefields of World War I, weary soldiers brought home the memory of a barren landscape transformed by wild poppies, red as the blood that had soaked the soil. By that miracle, the poppy became a symbol of the sacrifice of lives in war and represented the hope that none had died in vain. The poppy has continued to bloom for the casualties wars, its petals of paper bound together for veterans by veterans, reminding America each year that the men and women who have served and died for their country deserve to be remembered.
Although poppies have a long history of being used to honor the dead in both Greek and Roman mythology, the poppy, as a memorial flower to the war dead, can be traced to a single individual, Moina Michael.
New Canaan Police reported Wednesday that psychiatric-related calls doubled year-over-year in March, from four to eight. Though the overall figure remains manageable, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said he expects the rapid increase to be “a trend we will see continue.”
“And lining up with that was our incident on Friday night,” Krolikowski said during a regular meeting of the Commission, held via videoconference.
“Officers handled it perfectly, where we had a family member that was irate. Behavioral health issues, under the influence of something, threatening his family members with a knife and wouldn’t let a couple of them leave. Our shift went there, a hostage negotiator went there, the Special Response Team went there, [Deputy Chief] John [DiFederico] and myself went there, and through negotiation he did surrender and was taken into custody on a number of charges. And he will get the help he needs in some way.