ARPA: New Canaan Police To Request $110,000 for Enhanced School Security

In the wake of the May 24 school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, New Canaan Police are requesting $110,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds in order to increase the presence of officers in public and private schools in New Canaan. Dedicated school resource officers or “SROs” already are assigned to Saxe Middle School and New Canaan High School, and NCPD has “liaison” officers at all schools in town and trainings for officers within schools, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski told members of the Police Commission at their June 15 regular meeting. 

Yet the elementary and private schools in New Canaan “do not get a whole lot of police presence,” Krolikowksi said at the meeting, held at NCPD headquarters and via videoconference. 

The chief said that given the school shooting in Uvalde, where 19 students and two teachers were fatally shot, he re-wrote a request for ARPA funds for the Police Department—originally a request for public education and enforcement for stolen vehicles and thefts from vehicles, a portable finger-printing device and secure cabinets—to hire an officer to check on each school every day. The program would start in August when the new academic year begins and run through the 2022-23 school year, Krolikowski said. It likely would be an assignment covered by multiple officers and ideally would yield 16 additional school checks daily, he said. The $110,000 allocation “would allow us to fund that and hire an officer dedicated just to patrolling and checking through all of the schools and that would be their sole focus,” he said.

State To Install Centerline ‘Rumble Strips’ on Upper Route 123

Town officials last week approved a request from the state to install “rumble strips” along the northernmost 2.4-mile stretch of Route 123 in New Canaan. The Police Commission voted 3-0 in favor of the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s traffic safety measure at the appointed body’s May 18 meeting. The DOT recently finished a two-year study of rumble strips and “they found that 57% reduction in sideswipe crashes and off-the-road crashes,” according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. “The criteria is a roadway that has 2,000 or more vehicles per day, speed limit of 35 mph or more, residential density very low, within 100 get of the roadway and the travel lane has to be at least 14 feet wide from centerline to edge of road,” Mann said at the Commission’s meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department and via videoconference. “So they’re coming in to pave 123 this year, and it’s a perfect time to put in centerline rumble strips if we so choose,” he added. 

“We can either say yes or no, we just have to give them an answer,” Mann said.

Police Triple ‘Location Checks’ in New Canaan

New Canaan police officers through the first quarter of 2022 more than tripled their targeted checks of locations such as public parks and downtown areas as part of a wider effort to fight rising crime. The number of “location checks” increased from 167 the first three months of 2021 to 544 this year, Police Chief Leon Krolikowski told members of the Police Commission during their April 20 regular meeting. “The bulk of that increase is related to checking our parks and other locations,” Krolikowski said during the Commission’s meeting, held at New Canaan Police Department headquarters and via videoconference. 

“Intensive patrols to try and prevent people who are coming into town and committing crimes from doing that,” he said. “So that’s good work by our officers, certainly.”

Krolikowski said earlier this year that police have been “very concerned about” rises in crimes such as stolen vehicles and thefts from cars—including smash-and-grabs at public parks, where criminals wait for visitors to park their cars and leave for a walk—as well as residential burglaries and organized thefts from retail establishments. He noted at the Commission’s meeting that burglaries through the first three months of 2022 were up to four compared to zero for the year-ago period. 

“Our investigators are working on those cases and it’s a Fairfield County group that is committing the majority of those and we are hopeful at some point that we will be able to make some arrests and catch those people,” Krolikowski said.

Town Petitions State for Speed Limit Reduction on Route 123

Town officials are petitioning the state to change the speed limit on Route 123 to 40 mph throughout its entire stretch in New Canaan. As it is now, the speed limit is 45 mph from New Norwalk Road to East Avenue, then 40 mph to Michigan Road and 45 mph from Michigan to the New York state line, according to Public Works Director Tiger Mann. Residents of upper 123 have asked Mann to request a reduction in the speed limit which at 45 mph “is a little bit excessive given the amount of traffic that is there,” he told members of the Police Commission at their April 20 meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department and via videoconference. The request for a change in the speed limit on a state road such as 123 must come from the town’s designated “local traffic authority,” which is the Police Commission. Chair Paul Foley, Secretary Jim McLaughlin and member Shekaiba Bennett voted 3-0 in favor of the request for a reduction. 

Police Deputy Chief John DiFederico supported the request, saying the neighborhoods near 123 are often “densely populated.”

“It is radically inconsistent to go from 45 to 40 and 45,” DiFederico said.

Town Approves Traffic-Calming Measures on Valley Road at Silver Hill

Town officials have approve a series of traffic-calming measures on lower Valley Road designed to improve pedestrian safety in the area of a psychiatric hospital whose staff and patients cross the busy street to reach  different sections of its campus. The Police Commission at its March 16 meeting voted 3-0 in favor of installing a sign advising motorists to reduce their speed from 25 to 20 mph in the area of Silver Hill Hospital. At the request of New Canaan-based landscape architecture firm Keith Simpson Associates and with support from police and public works officials, the appointed body also approved moving “Hospital Zone” signs closer to the actual approaches to Silver Hill from both directions, putting in permanent speed sentries to notify motorists of their vehicles’ speeds, painting a single shoulder line along 1,800 feet of campus street frontage and installing pedestrian-activates rapid rectangular flashing beacons or “RRFBs” at two crosswalks there. “Valley Road is a busy road,” Simpson told the commissioners at the meeting, held via videoconference. 

Silver Hill is unique among institutions such as private schools that are set within residential zones in that it is bisected by a road, Simpson said, “which gives SH a unique challenge, really ,and in fact all of us who are interested in public safety.”

“WIth seven buildings on each side of the road there is significant pedestrian traffic in an area of town where, if people are driving along Valley Road who are not necessarily familiar with the fact that there was a campus there and Silver Hill was there and they felt they were just driving along another residential road with cars coming in and out of driveways, they would not expect to find major pedestrian cross-traffic,” Simpson said Simpson. He added that he himself is a resident of the area and drives on Valley Road daily.