—Bryan Haeffele photos

Wilton police Detective Kip Tarrant joined the department at a young age 39 years ago, and being a cop is the only work he knows.

Tarrant’s dedication and enthusiasm for being a detective and solving criminal cases is part of the reason why Chief John Lynch on April 9 named him Officer of the Year.

“I’m humbled, truly humbled,” Tarrant said after he accepted the award, a handsome wood-and-brass plaque engraved with his name and title. The 2017 Police Awards ceremony was co-sponsored by the Wilton Rotary Club and held at the Wilton Library Brubeck Room.

“It’s not about me. I’m in the right place at the right time with the right bunch of people,” Tarrant said.

The veteran detective, who has led the investigative unit at times, remembers the early days, when he graduated from Western Connecticut State University in Danbury with a bachelor’s degree in social science and psychology. He was looking for a job, and heard about the test for the police department. He passed.

“I was very fortunate, I took the job in Wilton and it’s the only job I’ve had in my adult life,” Tarrant told The Bulletin after the ceremony.

He’s been a highly decorated officer and detective. Lynch joked about the number of award patches on his uniform.

“I have even more at home,” Tarrant said jokingly.

He’s been a detective since 2004, and there have been times when he has led the detective unit as commander.

“I like the investigations, I like the satisfaction of doing the job right,” Tarrant said. “Every case is different. You get involved in the most in-depth cases.”

Tarrant accepted his award in a ceremony attended by about 50 officers and family members, with guests of honor including First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice. She thanked the officers for their service, and also expressed appreciation for their families.

“We appreciate the family members who allow them to do their work for us,” Vanderslice said.

There were numerous awards.

Elise Ackerman was named Community Police Officer of the Year, granted to an officer who is distinguished by his or her actions involving the community and showing integrity, respect, professionalism, and community support. This award is made in memory of the late Sgt. Thomas “TJ” Tunney, who won a number of awards for heroism but was also beloved by many members of the Wilton community.

Dispatcher William Whitman received a letter of commendation for his efforts in helping a distraught 22-year-old man who called on May 1 and said he wanted to kill himself. As he dispatched emergency units, Whitman talked to the young man who said he was sitting in his car in the garage. While talking to Whitman he turned the car on, but the dispatcher convinced him to turn it off. Police found the man in the garage and he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Whitman was commended for keeping the situation from escalating and helping to prevent a suicide.

Sgt. Anthony Cocco and Officer Shawn Frendt received life-saving awards for their efforts in rescuing a child who fell through the ice at Merwin Meadows Pond. When they arrived on the scene, they saw the child partially submerged about 25 feet from shore. Grabbing a rescue bag from his cruiser, Frendt threw a line to the child and then he and Cocco pulled the child across the ice to shore. After evaluation by EMS, the child was turned over to his father, who happened to be Officer Frendt.

Real estate broker Peg Koellmer of Realty Seven was named Civilian Blue Angel. This award — the first ever presented — goes to a current or former Wilton resident who has achieved distinction through long-term and selfless commitment to the town and the police, such as aiding in the prevention of crime or the apprehension of criminals or valuable community service to the town.

A number of other awards were given.

Letter of Recognition

  • Detective Eva Zimnoch

  • Officer Brandon Harris

  • Officer Eric Patenaude

  • Officer Mark Canepari

  • Detective Kip Tarrant

  • Officer Douglas Parsons

  • Officer Jon Patry

  • Officer Melissa LaPak

Letter of Commendation

  • Sgt. Timothy Fridinger

  • Officer Shawn Frendt

  • Officer Edward Dolenk

  • Officer Malcolm Hayes

  • Sgt. Anthony Cocco

  • Officer Elise Ackerman

  • Officer Brandon Harris

  • Dispatcher William Whitman

Citation of Commendation

  • Detective Kip Tarrant

  • Detective Eva Zimnoch

  • Detective Scott Sear

  • Officer Paul Lichtenberger

Emergency Medical Service Award

  • Sgt. Anthony Cocco

  • Sgt. Steven Rangel

  • Officer Malcolm Hayes

  • Officer Shawn Frendt

  • Officer Mark Canepari