POLICE COMMISSION MEETING

 

                                                            March 15, 2006

 

Present:   James S. Cole, Member                                           Edward J. Nadriczny,

               Stuart  J. Sawabini, Member                                                  Chief of Police

 

Absent:  Dexter J. Sutton, Secretary

              

Also in attendance:  Captains Thomas Bendernagel and Leon Krolikowski, Edward Walworth, Austin Furst, Mary O’Sullivan, Richard Bierman, Gretchen Russell, Victoria Germann, Anthony Ceraso, Sally and Kim Campbell, Thomas McLane, Nancy Straus, Kristiana Glavin, and Joan Wosahla.

 

The meeting was called to order at 6:10 P.M. by Commission Chairman James Cole.

 

I           Minutes of Previous Meeting     (February 15, 2006)

 

Upon motion by Commissioner Cole, seconded by Commissioner Sawabini, the minutes of the February 15, 2006 meeting were approved as presented.

 

II          Department Monthly Reports

 

In reviewing the department monthly reports, Chief Nadriczny noted that family dispute calls in February were down from the previous month; motor vehicle violations year to date were up 250 from the same period in 2005 and motor vehicle accidents are down approximately 25%.  Narcotics violations totaled 13 for the first two months of 2006, as compared with 3 for the first two months of 2005.  The Chief said this indicates officers are out there stopping vehicles and enforcing the law.  Several reports were put into a rolling 12-month style, as the Commission had requested at the last meeting.  The staffing report indicated that 32% of shifts were worked with minimum staffing.  44 Child Safety Seats were inspected/installed at the department by Officer Ferraro and Officer Lambert.  In addition, those officers also assisted at Karl Chevrolet with Fairfield County SafeKids running a child safety seat inspection site.  Approximately 74 seats were inspected at that event.  23 cases were assigned to Investigations in February.  A search warrant executed last weekend resulted in a large quantity of what is believed to be stolen property.  The estimated value of that property is approximately $20,000, and is currently spread out in the training classroom for sorting, identifying and tagging.  Channel 12 News will put some of the property on the air tomorrow to see if it can be identified.    In order to track traffic complaints the Chief developed a form going back to February 2005 to list open items.  After further discussion, the department monthly reports were accepted for the record.

 

III        Topics For Discussion

 

A.  Request for “Caution, Hidden Driveway” sign.  Lambert Road at northbound exit of Oenoke Ridge.

 

Mr. Seth Walworth wrote, expressing his concern for the safety of his parents, Edward and Nancy, who live at 25 Lambert Road.  He explained that their driveway is hidden to eastbound traffic, endangering a motorist exiting the driveway, and requested a “Hidden Driveway” sign.  Captain Krolikowski investigated the situation and reported his findings to the Commission.  After discussion, the Commission voted 2 – 0 to approve the Captain’s recommendation to install a “Hidden Driveway” sign on the southbound shoulder of Lambert Road, just in from Oenoke Ridge Road where the “Slow Curve” sign is, to alert eastbound traffic to the driveway to 25 Lambert Road.

 

B.  Request for Stop Sign or Speed Bumps.  West Road.

 

Kenneth and Susan Ambrecht, residents of 183 West Road had written about their concerns of vehicles speeding on West Road in the area of Greenley Road.  Captain Bendernagel reported that the intersection of West Road and Greenley has a moderate curve, but there are no sightline problems exiting from Greenley onto West Road.  West Road is a posted 25 mph zone.  One accident was reported in the intersection, which was related to snow and ice conditions; speed was not an issue in the accident.  West Road was resurfaced in the summer of 2003, which allows vehicles to travel at higher speeds.  The Mitron study for West Road indicates that the 85th percentile for southbound traffic is 37.6 mph and the northbound was 38.45 mph.  The Captain stated that if we were to follow federal and state guidelines, West Road should be a posted 35 mph zone.  The mode speed is 30 mph for both north and southbound traffic.  After discussion, the Commission voted 2 – 0 to approve the Captain’s recommendations, as follows:  the request for placing of stop signs or speed grooving, as requested by the residents in their letter, was not approved.  West Road will be placed on the speed enforcement list and the radar trailer will be placed there periodically.  Another Mitron study will be conducted in the spring to determine the effect of the enforcement actions.

 

C.  Request for traffic safety improvement.  Weed Street and Frogtown Road intersection.

 

Mr. Austin Furst of Frogtown Road is concerned that vehicles traveling southbound on Weed Street do not stop for the Stop sign that is at the Weed Street and Frogtown Road intersection, and made several suggestions.  Captain Krolikowski reported that this is a heavily traveled intersection.  Traffic at commuting times is moderately heavy.  There have been two accidents in the area of this intersection in the past two years.  The speed limit is a posted 30 mph.  There is a “Stop Ahead” warning sign on the west side of the road that warns southbound vehicles, but people don’t always obey.  He recommended the following:  paint the stop bars at the intersection to increase visibility and compliance; increase enforcement in the area; paint the post of the “Stop Ahead” warning sign a bright yellow to alert operators to the stop sign that is ahead; and consider placing a darkness activated battery powered warning light on the “Stop Ahead” warning sign.  After discussion, the Commission voted 2 – 0 to approve the Captain’s recommendations.

 

D.  Request for left turn arrows.  Intersection of Cherry and Main Streets.

 

Lauren Cerretani contacted the department with her concerns about vehicles running the red light at the intersection of Main and Cherry Streets, caused by the lack of time given to Cherry Street vehicles attempting to turn left onto Main Street.  Captain Bendernagel observed traffic at the intersection for over two weeks and made the following observations:  There is just enough time for Main Street vehicles during the commuter hours before backing up South Avenue.  Pedestrians using the crosswalk button cause traffic backups in both directions, taking the time from the vehicles.  The vehicles turning left do depend on the red light at times to make the turn.  None of the vehicles making the turn were reckless or warranted an infraction.  The Captain also called a State DOT traffic engineer to get some input on modifying the traffic light with a green arrow.  The engineer is concerned that making any modifications would affect the available time, which means the entire intersection will stop longer, causing a backup problem on Cherry Street.  He doesn’t feel the accident history or the community need justify such change to the intersection.  Captain Bendernagel recommended we monitor the traffic light further before requesting the state to make any modifications.  After discussion, the Commission voted 2 – 0 to take no action on this topic at this time.

 

E. Request for traffic safety inspection and improvements.  Greenley Road and Ponus Ridge Road area.

 

Mr. Nicholas Yanicelli, who lives at 1293 Ponus Ridge Road, wrote requesting road signs and speed control measures.  The driveway to his residence is on Greenley Road near #383, which he also owns.  He cites excessive speeds and sight-line problems near #232 and #383 Greenley.  Lieutenant Krolikowski’s traffic investigation revealed that the areas of #232 and #383 Greenley are curved sections of the roadway with sightline issues.  Greenley Road serves as a cut-through roadway between Ponus Ridge Road and West Road.  Traffic on the roadway is normally light, but during commuter hours the traffic increases moderately.  After discussing the Captain’s report, the Commission unanimously agreed, by a vote of 2 – 0, to approve installation of a “Hidden Driveway” sign on the southbound shoulder of Greenley Road, just prior to 232 Greenley, to alert eastbound traffic to the driveway; installation of a “Hidden Driveway” sign on the northbound shoulder of Greenley Road just prior to 383 Greenley to alert westbound traffic to the driveway.  When weather permits, the Mitron Speed Monitoring Devices will be installed to determine average vehicle speeds in the area.

 

F.  Request for traffic safety improvement.  Parish Road South.

 

The residents of Parish Road (Parish Road Neighborhood Association - PRNA) are concerned about excessive speeds of vehicles on their child-filled cul-de-sac off  Frogtown Road.  They have requested Commission permission to install “We love our children, Please Slow Down” signs and to allow interested families to install “guardian gates” in front of their residences.  Mrs. Mary O’Sullivan, representing PRNA brought pictures of a sign that she has seen in Westport that they would like to put up.  After hearing Captain Krolikowski’s report, and discussion, the Commission unanimously approved installation of one 25 MPH speed limit sign on the southbound side of the roadway; approved the Captain’s suggestion that the Parish Road Neighborhood Association send a letter to each homeowner stating the neighborhood’s concerns about speeding and emphasize the safety of the neighborhood’s children; installation of the Mitron Speed Monitoring Device, and based on results of the study, increase speed enforcement on the roadway and/or periodically place the radar trailer on the roadway.  The Commission did not object to residents placing signage on their private property, - not on the roadway, nor impeding the sightline - providing it meets with approval of the Zoning Department.  No signs should be put up until Captain Krolikowski checks with Zoning and gets back to Mrs. O’Sullivan, who made the request.

 

G.  Request for possible traffic pattern revision.  Millport Avenue.

 

Mr. Richard Bierman of Olmstead Court had written to express his concerns about speeding on Millport Avenue and requested Commission consideration of a revision of the traffic pattern on that roadway.  Captain Bendernagel explained that the Mitrons had not been put out, because they had been sent for repair and with weather conditions, we didn’t have enough time to conduct a study of this roadway.  However, since Mr. Bierman was present at the meeting, he was invited to explain his concerns.  His main concern is cars speeding on Millport Avenue, particularly in the morning and evening commuting hours.  He also stated that the speed limit sign is not very visible.  He is asking that we address the situation by speed enforcement or other means.  He had been told that at one time, Millport was a dead-end street; however, the Chief responded that since he started with the department in 1979 Millport was a two-way street, not a dead-end.  Several years ago it was changed to a one-way street.  It was agreed that the street is very narrow.  Captain Bendernagel assured Mr. Bierman we will take care of the signage.  The Mitron counters are out there now, and we will have a report for the April 19th meeting, when this topic will be on the agenda.

 

H.  Request for measures to reduce speeding.  Wahackme Road/Wahackme Lane.

 

Mrs. Gretchen Russell, on behalf of “Wahackme Residents for a Safe Street” is concerned about excessive vehicle speeds and the related dangers when children are entering/exiting their school buses.  Mrs. Russell was present at the meeting, along with her neighbor, Mrs. Victoria Germann.  They explained that cars cutting through their street traveling toward Weed Street, going up the hill and picking up speed, can’t see a stopped school bus in time to stop.  Captain Krolikowski reported on his traffic investigation and commented that this is something that is going to take several months to remedy.  After lengthy discussion, it was decided to take incremental steps and evaluate their effectiveness.  By a vote of 2 – 0, the Commission approved installation of a “Slow – School Bus Stop Ahead” sign for eastbound traffic near 208 Wahackme Road; increase of speed enforcement activities in the area during commuter and bus stop hours; the department contacting the school bus company.

 

I.  Request for Possible Inclusion on Towing Rotation List.  A C Auto Body.

 

Mr. Anthony Ceraso of A C Auto Body of New Canaan is currently on the department’s towing rotation list.  He is considering opening another business that would also offer towing, and asked whether that business could also be placed on the list.  It was the Commission’s decision that the current towing list of five towing companies is sufficient.  In answer to Mr. Ceraso’s question of why one person is allowed to have two companies on the rotation list and he can’t, he was told that at that time we didn’t have that many companies on the list.  The owner of these companies has been reliable and the second company, already on the list, became his through acquisition.  Opening a new company is different than buying one that is already on the rotation list.  That would actually decrease revenue for those on the current list.  Mr. Ceraso believes that two of the towing companies are sharing equipment, which is not allowed in the agreement with the department.  Captain Krolikowski will check on whether the towing companies’ equipment is legal and Mr. Ceraso will receive a letter from the Chief’s office indicating that.  By a vote of 2 – 0, the request to add an additional company to the towing rotation list was denied.

 

J.  Request for 2006 Club Connecticut Road Race Events.

 

Mr. Jim Gerweck submitted for Commission approval, a list of upcoming road race events.  Chief Nadriczny   recommended approval, stating that they have had these events in town for many years with little impact on traffic.  By a vote of 2 – 0, the Commission unanimously approved the following 2006 Club Connecticut events:

                                                March 26         Equinox Race

                                                July 4               4 on the 4th

                                                October 8        Great Train Race

                                                October 29      Pumpkin Chase

 

 

 

K. Request for Permanent Appointment.  Officers Scott Humburg, Joe Pearson and Rex Sprosta.

 

Officers Scott Humburg, Joe Pearson and Rex Sprosta have completed their one-year probationary period which began when they graduated from the Police Academy on March 15, 2005.  Chief Nadriczny recommended Commission approval of their permanent appointment.  He had sent a document to shift commanders and only received positive feedback on each of these officers.  Upon motion by Commissioner Cole, seconded by Commissioner Sawabini, the Commission unanimously approved permanent appointment for Officer Humburg, Officer Pearson and Officer Sprosta, effective March 15, 2006.

 

 

Pending Items

 

A.  Request for methods of slowing traffic.  Dunning Road/Weed Street Intersection. (Continued.)

 

Captain Bendernagel summarized steps taken to improve sightline at the Dunning Road/Weed Street intersection.  In the summer of 2004, Public Works took down two trees.  The Captain and the Town Engineer then arranged for stumping of one of the earlier removed trees, had three more trees taken down, and the embankment regraded, which increased the sightline to 200 feet in the fall of 2004.  He just received the results of the Mitron study.  The area is a posted 25 miles per hour speed limit. The Mitron study for Weed Street indicates that the 85th percentile for southbound vehicles is 44.49 mph and the northbound is 43.43 mph.  The mode speed is 35 mph for both north and southbound traffic.   Discussion followed, in which it was decided that not much more could be done to improve the sightline, and that a stop sign might give drivers exiting Dunning Road onto Weed Street a false sense of security in case cars ignored the signage.  Because of the excessive speeds cars are traveling over the posted limit, the Commission unanimously approved putting a request into the Department of Public Works for the installation of speed grooves on Weed Street prior to the Dunning Road Intersection. Also approved:  signage warning of speed grooves and painting the highway to highlight the speed grooves.  The Campbells thanked Commissioner Cole for having gone out to see the situation for himself.

 

B.  Traffic improvements to Park Street. (Continued.)

 

Captain Bendernagel reported that the Mitron study revealed that the 85th percentile traveling on Park Street was 35 mph.  Park Street was put on the speed enforcement list during commuting hours, and many summonses have been issued.  After assessing steps taken to improve traffic on Park Street (selective enforcement, signage, painting) it was the Commission’s decision to continue traffic enforcement and close out this topic.  A letter will be sent to the residents, advising them to contact us if they see more problems.

 

IV        State of Department

 

A.  Memorandums of Commendation for:         

                                                                         

Officer Jeff Pollock.

Sergeants DiFederico and Ferris issued a Memorandum of Commendation for Officer Jeff Pollock’s performance of duty on February 19, 2006 while assigned to the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift.  In stopping a vehicle for unreasonable speed/moving radar, Officer Pollock recognized that the passenger was trying to hide something between his legs on the floor of the vehicle.  Upon further investigation he discovered that the individual was trying to hide 8 ounces of marijuana (approximate street value of $1,500).  The officer immediately called for backup.  A search of the vehicle and the two remaining occupants of the vehicle revealed a small amount of marijuana in the possession of the back seat passenger as well.  The back seat passenger was issued a misdemeanor summons and the driver was issued an infraction for unreasonable speed.  The owner of the 8 ounces of marijuana was subsequently arrested and charged with Illegal Possession of more than 4 ounces of marijuana, and Possession with intent to sell marijuana, both felonies.  Officer Pollock was commended for his initiative, keen awareness of suspicious behavior and maintaining control of a potentially dangerous situation.

 

Officer Marc DeFelice

 

Captain Krolikowski and Sergeant Ogrinc issued a memorandum of commendation for Officer DeFelice’s exceptional initiative and performance of duty from May 26, 2005 through January 26, 2006, while assigned to the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.  Specifically, he initiated 458 motor vehicle stops for a variety of violations.  Utilizing his initiative and professional expertise, Office DeFelice arrested nine individuals for driving under the influence of alcohol, six individuals for possession of marijuana and during one incident three individuals for possessing weapons in a motor vehicle.  In the weapons in a motor vehicle incident, Officer DeFelice initiated a motor vehicle stop for a missing front license plate. His subsequent investigation and the resulting arrest of the operator for driving under the influence of alcohol led to the discovery of a loaded .380 caliber pistol that the suspects secreted in a brown bag within the vehicle.  As a result, he arrested three suspects for violation of Connecticut General Statutes 29-38 Weapons in a Motor Vehicle.  Two of the arrestees were convicted felons, which led to an additional charge – Possession of a Pistol by a Convicted Felon. Officer DeFelice was commended for his dedication and professionalism.  The writers of the memorandum are certain that his efforts prevented motor vehicle accidents and made the roadways within the Town of New Canaan measurably safer.

 

 

B.  Letters of Appreciation were received for:  Captain Thomas Bendernagel, Lieutenants Steve Wood, and Jim George, Sergeants Peter Condos and Lou Gannon, Officers Bill Marabella, Jeff Deak, and Jason Ferraro; Officer David Payne; the department and the Police Commission; Officers Scott Romano, Jason Ferraro, Joseph Farenga, Aaron LaTourette, Officer Jeff Pollock; Officers Jason Ferraro and Geoffrey Lambert; Sergeant David Ferris; the Department; Captain Tom Bendernagel, Lieutenant William Ferri, Sergeant Vincent DeMaio, Officers Andrea Alexander and Jeff Deak; Captains Tom Bendernagel, Leon Krolikowski, Lieutenants Steve Wood and Jim George, Sergeant Vincent DeMaio and Officer Aaron LaTourette; the Department and Officers Bill Marabella, Don Cervone, Jeff Deak, Geoff Lambert, Joe Farenga and Ronald Bentley.

 

C.  Training Certificates For:                                                     Captain Leon Krolikowski

                                    MANAGING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE & CAREER DEVELOPMENT

 

                                                                                                Sergeant David H. Ferris, Jr.

                                                                        COACHING, COUNSELING & CHALLENGING

 

                                                                                                Officer Bryan W. Connolly

                                    ADVANCED ROADSIDE IMPAIRED DRIVING ENFORCEMENT (A-RIDE)

 

D.  R/T/S Update.

 

Peer interviews of the January 2006 candidate pool were conducted the week of February 20th.  Of the 15 interviews scheduled, 14 were conducted.  One candidate was eliminated for failure to submit the application.  The Peer Interview Panel was comprised of Lieutenant Ferri, Sergeant Condos and Officer Milligan.  Sergeant DeMaio chaired the Panel.  At the conclusion of the peer interview process, the Panel unanimously agreed that 7 of the candidates interviewed did not provide responses to the questioning that would indicate they possessed the character and/or skills necessary to meet the standard of performance expected of New Canaan Police Officers.  Those candidates were eliminated from process.  The 7 remaining candidates have been scheduled for polygraph interviews with the Connecticut State Police beginning March 3rd.  The Police Commission interviews are scheduled for April 6th.  Background investigations will be assigned to the Detective Branch by mid-April.

 

E.  SRT Leadership.

 

As a result of Captain Krolikowski’s promotion, there has been a change in the SRT leadership.  Sergeant David Ferris is now the Team Leader and Officer Jason Ferraro is the Executive Officer.

 

F.  Police Vehicle Operational Fee for Side Jobs.

 

The Police Department is requesting contractors pay an operational fee for the use of police vehicles at extra duty jobs.  The on-duty Shift Commander will determine the need for utilizing a police vehicle at an extra duty job.  He will base his decision on the following:  A)  Visibility at the job site, and B) Safety of the officer working the job.  By a vote of 2 – 0, the Commission unanimously set the operational fee at $15.00 per hour.

 

G.  Department Support of Youth Services Grant Application.

Anthony Phillips of the town’s Youth Services office and Chief Nadriczny have been discussing some ways in which members of the Police Department can get closer to the youth community of New Canaan.  Mr. Phillips has applied for a grant from the state and asked for the police department’s support.  In a letter to the State’s Office of Policy and Management, the Chief stated “We fully support the ideas and concepts listed in Mr. Phillips’ grant application.  We will pledge to do our best to provide officers to staff the programs that Mr. Phillips is proposing.  If we are awarded these grant monies, we feel this can be an excellent vehicle for us to begin to develop new relationships with the youth of our community that may change their attitudes toward the police.  This is an area where we have felt the need for improvement for many years and are excited concerning this potential new opportunity.”

 

H.  Information Memo.            

Included:

·        Obituary of Chester R. Lewis, Jr., retired New Canaan Police Lieutenant.

·        Promotion Ceremony for Lieutenant Pickering.

·        Anonymous Tip Line established.

·        Lottery scam reported.

·        Warning to residents after eBay scam.

·        Department aiming for Civilian Dispatch in 2006-2007.

·        Department’s certification as First Responder renewed.

·        Captain Krolikowski to attend the 227th Session of the FBI National Academy.

·        The Emergency Preparedness Committee’s storm response review cited gaps in communication between agencies.

·         Who to call in cases of domestic violence.

·        Results of survey of teens.

·        Child safety seat clinic held at Karl Chevrolet.

·        82 Infractions found at truck checkpoint.

·        The New Canaan Animal Response Team planning for emergency sheltering and animal care during disasters.

 

I.     INSIGHT Training Bulletin:                        Situational Training Equals Real World Survival

 

V         Other Matters

 

A.     Communications Sent on Behalf of the Commission were noted for the record.

 

At 7:50 P.M. Chairman Cole made motion to move to Executive Session. Motion seconded by Commissioner Sawabini, and unanimously approved, the Commission entered Executive Session.  At the conclusion of Executive Session at  8:40 P.M., regular session reconvened.  There being no further business to discuss, Commissioner Cole made motion to adjourn the meeting. Motion seconded by Commissioner Sawabini, the Commissioners unanimously agreed to adjourn the meeting at  8:41  P.M.

 

 

                                                            Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                           

                                                            Joan L. Wosahla for

Dexter J. Sutton, Secretary