Two of Wilton's finest are honored

WILTON — Though the pandemic delayed a chance for a ceremony scheduled in March, two of the town’s finest police personnel are finally receiving their due with special recognitions for their work.

Officer Mark Canepari was named Wilton’s 2019 Police Officer of the Year last week, while Lt. Dave Hartman was named Wilton’s 2019 Community Police Officer of the Year.

The awards were presented to them at the police department in front of their peers.

“It is safe to say that Lt. Hartman is one who sets the tone for our department’s community engagement activities,” said Capt. Thomas Conlan, who shared high praise for both men.

“Lt. Hartman recognizes the importance of a police department’s interaction with the community in a non-enforcement capacity,” he said, “and sets the example by his own involvement,” which includes leadership roles in a range of activities beyond his daily assignments.

Regarding Canepari, Conlan said, “He has consistently distinguished himself as a proactive officer.”

“In looking through Officer Canepari’s personnel folder, there are many letters from residents thanking him for the professional and caring way that he assisted them in their time of need,” he said.

“I am very honored to have received Officer of the Year,” said Canepari, who began his career with Wilton in December of 2014.

In 2019 he also received a letter of commendation, a letter of recognition and a life-saving award.

“I try to do my job in a fashion to where I can honestly say when I get home and look myself in the mirror, I can feel proud of the job I did and the decisions I made,” he said, crediting his wife, Amber, and their two-year-old daughter Jade with the larger part of his inspiration.

“My wife provides me a tremendous amount of support and is always the first to tell me she is proud of me and the job I do,” Canepari said, also sharing praise for his peers and supervisors in the department.

Hartman joined the Wilton force in August of 1999, right out of college.

“I am very fortunate to be in such a great town and department,” he said, acknowledging the great support of Chief John Lynch, the administration and town officials.

His community and volunteer work has included various activities with the Special Olympics, AAA, Wilton High School Safe Rides, and the Wilton YMCA, among others. Earlier this year, Hartman and fellow Lt. Robert Kluk climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Special Olympics.

“I have always felt that as police we are in a unique position to make a positive difference in people’s lives,” he said, noting that the relationships they build with people and the community are paramount.

“As someone who grew up in Wilton, I hold a special place for this community and realize that police work can only be effective if we work with the community,” Hartman said.

He also praised the support of his wife, Lisa, along with their three children, Kaitlyn, 15, Connor, 13, and Ryan, 11.

“I hope to look back at my career when I retire,” he said, “and be able to say that I did my job and people are better off now because of it.”