Hayden Turek photos
This year, the Wilton Police Department Annual Awards Ceremony featured a never-before-given honor.
At Trackside Teen Center on March 15, the first-ever Community Police Officer of the Year Award, started in the memory of Sgt. Thomas “TJ” Tunney, who died of cancer on Jan. 3, was awarded posthumously to Tunney himself.
While Tunney was a past recipient of the Medal of Valor Award, one of the Wilton Police Department’s highest honors, police Chief Robert Crosby said the Community Police Officer of the Year Award was named after him “for his tremendous involvement with, and care for, the citizens of Wilton.”
“Throughout Sgt. Tunney’s career, the police department received countless letters praising him for his involvement with the community. He was a great advocate of the people of Wilton, and was well-respected by his peers,” Crosby said.
Accepting the award from Crosby were Tunney’s sister Kathy Midland, niece Stephanie Schmidt, and other members of his family.
“In years to come, this award will be granted to members of the Wilton Police Department who distinguish themselves from their peers by their actions involving the Wilton community,” Crosby said.
The Officer of the Year Award, also known as the Officer Jack VanDeusen Award, was received by Officer John Godfrey.
“John’s attentiveness to his duties as a records officer goes above and beyond what is expected of him,” Crosby said.
“While the majority of Officer Godfrey’s work is done behind the scenes, it is his attention to detail that ensures a level of professionalism portrayed by our agency to the courts, other law enforcement agencies, and the community as a whole. John, thank you for your dedication.”
Officer Michael Tyler received a Letter of Commendation for assisting other police agencies with establishing the probable cause necessary to arrest an individual suspected of stealing jewelry from homes in their jurisdictions.
“Not only did he solve our crimes, he solved other crimes in other jurisdictions as well. That’s pretty good,” Crosby said.
Officers Robert Nosal, William Barrett and Paul Lichtenberger received Letters of Recognition for seizing an illegal 9 mm pistol during a traffic stop.
“People who don’t realize that stuff happens in Wilton, it does,” Crosby said. “That’s a weapon off the streets.”
Officer Joseph Calorossi, Sgt. Stephen Sisenstein, Officer Jonathon Patry, Detective Kip Tarrant, Sgt. Steven Rangel, and Lt. Robert Cipolla were awarded for their involvement with a drug bust that led to the seizure of 28 bars of Xanax, 12 grams of marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. Calorossi received a Letter of Commendation and the other police mentioned above got Letters of Recognition.
“We removed drugs from the street that were going to be sold, so gentlemen, thank you,” Crosby said.
This was Calorossi’s third Letter of Commendation, earning him a Citation of Commendation pin as well.
Officers Frank Razzaia, Anna Tornello, Paul Lichtenberger, Daniel Sell, and Sgt. David Hartman were awarded Letters of Commendation for successfully pursuing and arresting an individual who had refused to stop driving, even after Lichtenberger deployed a spike strip, puncturing three of the car’s four tires, and who had fled on foot once the car could no longer be driven.
“The driver was found to be under the influence, in possession of drug paraphernalia and narcotics, and the vehicle was stolen out of Waterbury. So we recovered a stolen vehicle, and the person who stole it,” Crosby said.
Patry, Tarrant, and Razzaia were given Letters of Recognition for arresting a door-to-door solicitor who turned out to be a fugitive from justice in Texas, for domestic violence abuse.
“These officers took another bad guy off the streets. Gentlemen, thank you,” Crosby said.
Nosal received a Letter of Recognition for drawing on his training and using a bag valve mask to prevent an overdose patient from going into cardiac arrest before paramedics could arrive and administer Narcan to counteract the effect of the drugs.
“The patient woke up and was transported to Norwalk Hospital and is with us today. Officer Nosal did a very good job,” Crosby said.
Hartman, Nosal, and Officers Eric Patenaude and Elise Smith were honored for seizing a knife, brass knuckles and a loaded, high-capacity firearm, as well as narcotics, from a vehicle that was stopped for a traffic violation.
Hartman and Patenaude received Letters of Commendation, and Smith and Nosal received Letters of Recognition. This was Hartman’s third commendation, earning him a Citation of Commendation pin.
“More weapons taken off the streets, more drugs off the streets,” Crosby said. “Thank you, officers.”
Officers Shawn Frendt and Mark Canepari were recognized for their involvement with an incident in which a woman called 911 from a Sprint cell phone and could be heard saying “help me” before hanging up.
Frendt was able to get Sprint to ping the phone’s location and learn the identity of the woman. Canepari was then able to find and talk to her and learned she had been a victim of domestic violence. He also learned the offender’s whereabouts.
“Officers responded to the location, and took the suspect into custody for domestic violence charges. Thank you, officers,” Crosby said.
For this, Canepari was given a Letter of Recognition and Frendt got his third Letter of Commendation, earning him a Citation of Commendation pin. Calorossi, Tornello, Rangel, and Officers Douglas Parsons, Wojtek Brodzinski, and Scott Spezzano were each given a Letter of Recognition for working together to arrest a woman who attempted to fraudulently receive a cash advance from a Chase Bank in Wilton.
After the ceremony, Crosby told The Bulletin, “This night is for not only the officers who have distinguished themselves by getting a special award but for all the officers of the Wilton Police Department, for the job they do, each and every night, 24/7/365, no matter what the weather is. I thank each and every one of them.”
Commenting on his Officer of the Year Award, Godfrey told The Bulletin, “I just want to say how appreciative I am of the persons responsible for putting me in for this award. I greatly appreciate their recognition of my dedication and contribution to the day-to-day operations of the department.”