Police Commission Chairmanship Turns Over at Heated Meeting

The appointed municipal body that oversees the New Canaan Police Department elected a new chair Wednesday night during an awkward organizational meeting. Paul Foley, a member of the Police Commission since December 2013, was elected chairman by a 2-1 vote following a heated exchange between his predecessor in the role and the town’s highest elected official. 

Sperry DeCew, a member of the Police Commission since June 2012, had served the past two years as chair. 

As per section 15-3 of the Town Charter, the three-member Commission meets “promptly after” Dec. 1—typically in January—for the election of its own officers “at the call of the First Selectman.” 

As First Selectman Kevin Moynihan opened the organizational meeting, held during the Commission’s regular meeting at police headquarters, DeCew said, “Let’s get on with this circus. Nominations for Commission chairman.”

Commissioner Jim McLaughlin—himself appointed one year ago to the Police Commission—nominated Foley. DeCew called for any other nominations.

Officials Vote 3-0 To Install Flashing Stop Sign at for Michigan Road Motorists at Route 123

The Police Commission voted 3-0 last week to install a stop sign with flashing lights at Michigan and Smith Ridge Roads to alert westbound traffic seeking to cross or turn onto Route 123 of the dangerous intersection. The move is one measure town officials are taking while they wait for the state to address concerns raised months ago regarding the intersection, site of “multiple serious accidents,” Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said during the Commission’s Oct. 16 meeting, held at police headquarters. 

“We just had another one,” Krolikowski said. He referred to an Oct. 15 crash in the area.

Anonymous Complaint to DOJ Leads to Creation of 12 Disabled Parking Spaces Downtown

Officials said last week that they’ve re-designated 12 parking spaces in metered lots downtown for disabled motorists following an anonymous complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice. The town had been “deficient in number,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann said, and quickly addressed the problem by installing three disabled spaces in Morse Court, six in Locust Avenue Lot and three in Park Street Lot. “We had someone contact the Department of Justice and they came down and said that we needed to amend our number of handicapped spaces in three separate parking lots,” Mann told members of the Police Commission at their regular meeting, held Oct. 16 at the New Canaan Police Department. The complaint “fell on the heels pretty much right after the original thing for Main Street,” he said, referring to a complaint that had been made to the state that could see New Canaan lose even more parking spaces near crosswalks.

Police Commission: Don’t Remove Any Main Street Crosswalks Yet

New Canaan shouldn’t remove any crosswalks on Main Street until a traffic study is in hand and the town attorney reviews a legal opinion that could preempt the need, officials said last week. The Police Commission, New Canaan’s local traffic authority, during its Sept. 18 meeting voted unanimously to request that the town attorney look at a legal opinion challenging the notion that a state law required the municipality to lost 13 parking spaces on Elm Street irretrievably last summer. That same legal opinion—which finds, in part, that the town could preserve some parking through local ordinance—also bears “tangentially” on a more recent finding that New Canaan must lose 10 to 12 spaces on Main Street because they’re located within 25 feet of a crosswalk, according to Commission Chair Sperry DeCew. “If we had some municipal parking regulations, which are indicated… that could possibly help us with the Main Street issue,” DeCew said during the Commission’s regular meeting, held in the training room at the New Canaan Police Department.

‘I Don’t Think the Public Knows’: Police Commission Calls for Renovation of NCPD Headquarters

Though it may look perfectly fine to those driving past on South Avenue, the New Canaan Police Department building has defective plumbing, mold, crumbling masonry, 16 broken windows, a leaking skylight, a sewer fly problem in the men’s locker room, loose and broken tiles in the women’s and poor or non-existent ventilation throughout, officials said Wednesday. Two of four men’s jail cells have been closed due to plumbing issues, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski said during a regular meeting of the Police Commission, and the old-style cell bars in them also must be replaced with flat plexiglass doors because prisoners have tried to hang themselves by the bars. 

Several offices in the building are not connected to its centralized HVAC system, and 48 windows require hardware that’s no longer available because the windows themselves are so old, he said. “There is moisture in some rooms—that’s not a good thing,” Krolikowski said during the meeting, held in the training room at police headquarters. “Ventilation in processing areas is nonexistent and we often get narcotic smells in our hallways due to evidence storage and no way to ventilate that.”

The comments came during a general update to the Commission, as the police building itself—though multiple town bodies have acknowledged the pressing need for renovation—sits as-is while town officials consider a complicated, multi-transaction proposal that would see the department relocated downtown (more on that below). “I don’t think the public knows any of this,” Police Commissioner Jim McLaughlin said, referring to the problems enumerated by the chief during his brief presentation.