Local Headlines

Suspect sought in larceny from Target

Bethel Police are looking to identify a man who is a suspect in a larceny from the Bethel Target store yesterday. The suspect left the scene in a beige or off-white Hummer H3 with ski racks on the passenger side roof.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Bethel Police Officer Jason Broad at 203-744-7900 x670.

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SHeriff Deputies investigate phoned in bomb threat at Southeast retailer

A general bomb threat was called into the Home Depot call center in Utah leading to a search in Putnam County.  The Sheriff's Office was notified on Sunday about the threat, which did not target a specific retail location.  Based on certain information, it was believed by the Home Depot call center that the threat came from the Putnam County area. 

The Southeast store was notified and several deputies responded. 

Brewster Fire Department helped with an evacuation and closure of certain areas while the sheriffs conducted an investigation.  The MTA police responded with two Bomb detection K9 units and Westchester Police responded with three Bomb detection dogs. 

All units were on scene for about 90 minutes. 

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Bethel Police remind drivers to clear car of snow and ice

The Bethel Police Department is offering a friendly reminder that officers will be enforcing the removal of ice and snow from vehicles that are traveling through town this winter.  Not only is the obstruction of vision a significant danger to drivers, but Police say ice and snow that dislodges from a vehicle can result in property damage or hazardous driving conditions for other motorists.  Drivers should clear ice and snow from not only the front and rear windshields, but the body of the car as well.  Bethel Police say that could save you from an accident or receiving a $120 infraction.

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Routine traffic stop leads to arrest for heroin possession

A traffic stop on Interstate 684 led to heroin arrest.  Troopers pulled a vehicle over in Southeast on Friday morning.  The 2019 Nissan Sentra was operating as a taxi service and Troopers had probable cause to search the vehicle.  95 decks of heroin belonging to the passenger, 26-year old, Thomas King, was located.  The Waterbury man was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance with intent to sell.  King was arraigned in Patterson Court, and ordered held at the Putnam County Jail in lieu of bond.  He is due back in Court on the 19th.

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Ridgefield parent under investigation for alleged verbal, physical abuse

A Ridgefield parent is under investigation for allegedly verbally abusing and forcefully grabbing a six-year-old autistic student.  Ridgefield Police and the state Department of Children and Families launched an investigation into the incident that happened in late September during the Veterans Park Elementary School annual spirit run. 

According to statements from eyewitnesses, the alleged abuser yelled at the victim, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her onto her feet, pushing the student into a timeout.  A deep bruising patterns was photographed, and provided to Ridgefield Police and DCF. 

The mother's attorney is quoted in the Ridgefield Press as saying the school district claims they can’t get involved at all because it was a PTA event.  The parent is supposed to be on probationary status, but has reportedly volunteered for the classroom holiday party. The attorney for the school said someone from the PTA who was using the account of the accused.

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Ex-officer, restaurant, settle suit brought by crash victim

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut restaurant and a former police officer who pleaded no contest to charges connected to a drunken driving crash have agreed to settle the lawsuit filed by the woman injured in the collision. The Connecticut Post reported the settlement Monday. Terms were not disclosed. John Carrano, a former Bridgeport officer, pleaded no contest last week to assault with a motor vehicle. He crashed into a car driven by 19-year-old Elizabeth Bucci of Monroe just before Christmas in 2017 after a night of drinking. According to the lawsuit, restaurant employees continued to serve alcohol to Carrano even though he was visibly intoxicated.

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Danbury Railway Museum adds vintage train rides to visit with Santa

Due to a basement flood at the Danbury Railway Museum, last weekend's Santa train events were cancelled.  The nonprofit has added rides this Friday and next Friday at 4:30pm, 5pm  and 5:30pm.  This is in addition to the regularly scheduled rides on the Saturdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas.

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Putnam County Sheriff responds to Legislature rebuffing overtime funding transfer

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley is responding to the County Legislature calling his request for a funding transfer to cover overnight 'budget manipulation."  Langley commended the members for publicly questioning the proposed budget transfers as being fiscally responsible, as they should with all County departments. 

Langley noted that budgets are estimates because no department can determine unanticipated costs a month or a year in advance.  He added that his Department held off purchasing various budgeted items until the end of the year to make sure money was available to purchase them.  Langley instead chose to transfer other funds to Patrol overtime, which he says has been substantially underfunded for many years.

The Sheriff's Department has renegotiated the daily housing rate they charge the United States Marshall’s Service to board in prisoners, generating an estimated additional $350,000 in revenue. The rate had not been renegotiated since it was established in 1992.  The Civil Division increased its revenue by over 60% in 2019 by updating its policies and procedures to be consistent with existing laws.

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6 locations sell to minors during Danubry liquor compliance checks

During recent liquor sales compliance checks, 6 locations were found to sell to minors in Danbury.  On Saturday, Police and the Liquor Control Division of the state Department of Consumer Protection visited 47 liquor stores, grocery stores and other points of sale.  Police Explorers tried to buy alcohol and 12-percent of the locations checked sold to the underage volunteers. 

The Liquor Control Division will be continuing an investigation into the 6 locations not in compliance, which will likely end with fines and administrative penalties at a later date and time.

Non-compliant locations were Grade A Market of Danbury, S&D Liquors, both on on Padanaram Road, Bevmax on Backus Avenue, J&B Wines and Spirits on Newtown Road, Edwin & Julia Liquor Store on Westville Avenue and Pague Meno’s Supermarket on Triangle Street. 

Danbury Police say 50 retailers took part in a seminar in June, which is believed to have contributed to the low number of non-compliant points of purchase.  Dichello Distributors, Inc presented training for intervention procedures and Liquor Control Division fielded questions regarding the state Liquor Control Act.

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No injuries reported in highway car fire

There was a car fire on I-84 in Danbury last night.  State police responded and blocked the right lane near the area of exit 3 while firefighters extinguished the blaze.  There were no injuries reported.  State Police say passerbys should not go near or try to pass a vehicle on fire in an unsafe way. 

(Photo: @CSP_troop_a Instagram)

In about six weeks the recruits will graduate from the training academy, become trooper trainees, and head out to patrol where they’ll ride with a Field Training Officer, for some on-the-job training, and respond to a variety of calls for assistance--like the car fire.

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Putnam County legislature questions budget transfers for Sheriff Deputy overtime

The Putnam County Legislature has voted nearly unanimously against a last-minute Sheriff’s Department request to transfer more than $120,000.  The money would be directed to overtime costs for road patrol.  In its December meeting, legislators discussed end-of-year budget reconciliation.  The money requested had been allocated during the 2019 budget process to cover Sheriff’s Department expenses in 40 different spending categories, not for overtime.  The Sheriff’s deputies who worked the overtime have been paid but, the Legislature expressed its displeasure at what it called budget maneuvers.  Putnam County Legislature Chairman Joseph Castellano says they don’t know why overtime is going higher every year and need to talk with the Sheriff’s Department about that.  Only one Legislator, Nancy Montgomery, voted in favor of the transfer.

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Newtown officials announce plans for 12/14

Plans and preparations ahead of 12/14 have been announced by Newtown School officials.  A heightened police presence will be visible at all schools throughout the district. Additional police will be onsite at Sandy Hook School beginning on Thursday evening and continuing throughout Friday. 

The Superintendent sent a letter to parents saying that this time of year is especially difficult for so many students, staff, and families.  While the anniversary falls on a Saturday this year, they have plans in place for Friday, to ensure a respectful remembrance of the students and staff lost 7 years ago. 

Support staff at each school is prepared to respond to any students who might ask a question or experience anxiety.  Elementary staff assumes that a majority of younger students may know little to nothing about the tragedy, and they should not be the first-time providers of this information.  Newtown Middle and High School Principals will organize a personal message that is age-appropriate for their students. 

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Ridgefield Inland Wetlands Board names leadership

Ridgefield’s new Inland Wetlands Board will be led by Patricia Sesto, a longtime environmental officer for Wilton and Greenwich, among other towns.  Susan Baker, member of the grassroots Ridgefield Open Space Organization, will serve as vice chair.  The Board will hold its first public hearing tonight on expansion of the town’s Governor Street parking lot.  Plans call for the lot to be doubled.  Tonight's hearing is at 7:30 in the lower level meeting room of the Town Hall Annex.  The Planning and Zoning Commission must also rule on the town’s parking lot plans.

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Sherman residents approve funding for school renovation designs

Sherman residents have approved spending up to $50,000 on conceptual design services for the Sherman School.  During the town meeting on Saturday, about 60 residents turned out to discuss and vote on the funding.  The money will come from Sherman's capital non-recurring account.  Tecton Architects will come up with architectural designs and associated cost estimates for the school, which serves pre-k through 8th grade students.  The 1937 building has undergone a number of additions and renovations over the years.  Mechanical, plumbing and electrical repairs and replacement are needed.

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Lamont outlines proposed toll rates for trucks

Governor Lamont has delivered a letter to Democratic and Republican legislative leaders detailing proposed legislation to improve Connecticut’s transportation system.  The truck only toll rates for heavy trucks to go over the I-84 bridge in Newtown would be $6.40, with a Connecticut transponder.  That's the Rochambeau Bridge over the Housatonic River.  One of the other 12 bridges is along the 1-mile stretch of Connecticut on I-684.  Lamont says the boost in the Special Transportation Fund will allow Connecticut to implement a multi-modal vision for a transportation future that reduces the congestion.

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Newtown Police hosting a Mitten Tree

Newtown Police are hosting a Mitten Tree.  This is the 20th year for the event, with all donations going to social services in the immediate area.   The mitten tree is located in the lobby of the Newtown police department.  Anyone in need of mittens, scarf, hats is invited to come by and take what's needed.

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In US schools, resource officers woven into daily life

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — An imposing presence in uniform at 6-foot-5, Officer Will Chapman towers over students in the halls of Newtown Middle School, but he tries to be as approachable as possible.

The school resource officer known as “Officer Will” aims to been seen by each student at least three times a day as he walks the halls 2 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a 2012mass shooting left 20 students and six educators dead. He drops into art class and joins in on projects. Some days, he takes math quizzes alongside students.

The police officers assigned to schools receive scrutiny in times of emergency — as in Wisconsin, where school resource officers were involved in two student shootings this week — but they also play a less-known role in the rhythms of everyday American classroom life.

Beyond their law enforcement role, the model for school resource officers endorsed by the U.S. Justice Department enlists them also as mentors, informal counselors and educators on topics ranging from bullying to drunk driving with the goal of promoting school safety.

School resource officers receive the same baseline training as other officers, but experts say doing the job well requires skills and training to understand and build strong relationships with young people.

“It is very much a community-based policing approach,” said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers. “This is about problem solving, relationship building and doing things to make a positive difference in the lives of kids, quite frankly.”

Chapman, for one, said he works hard to ensure students know he is there for them — and not because of them.

“I want my students to understand first and foremost that I love them dearly and there is nothing they can do, bad or good, to change how much I care about them,” he said. “Their choices can limit my options in how I communicate that love, but it is never any less true.”

Nationwide, 43% of public schools had an armed law enforcement officer present at least once a week in the 2015-2016 school year, the last time the National Center for Education Statistics released data on this topic. The officers work closely with school administrators, who are encouraged to reach understandings with officers that disciplinary issues short of anything illegal are to be handled by school officials.

In cases of real and immediate threats to students or teachers, however, the rules on use of force are set by the police departments that assign the officers to the schools.

That is important because it is the police department that ensures the officer has the appropriate training, said Jeff Kaye, president of School Safety Operations, a consulting firm. In the event of a police shooting, the officer also should face oversight from an agency with expertise in use-of-force policies, he said.

In Wisconsin, an Oshkosh Police Department resource officer shot a 16-year-old student Tuesday after the boy stabbed him at Oshkosh West High School. On Monday, a resource officer at Waukesha South High School helped clear students out of a classroom after a student pointed a pellet gun at another student’s head. Another police officer entered the room and shot the student. Neither of the students who were shot suffered life-threatening injuries.

Chapman said he always parks his cruiser where it is visible from the street, in part to reassure parents in a community still recovering from one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. He’s able to focus more on students because of private armed security hired in the tragedy’s aftermath.

“It frees me up to go into a classroom and sit down and dissect a frog with seventh graders because I’m not constantly worried about, ‘What if somebody comes in that we don’t want here?’” he said.

At Aberdeen Middle School in Maryland, school resource officer Jason Neidig said he greets students as they enter the building to look for anything out of the ordinary and takes aside any who seem upset to ask if they want to talk. He walks the hallways, checks areas where weapons could be hidden and joins administrators in meetings with troubled students. He pokes fun at himself and trades messages with students on his Instagram account as @srojason.

“I do not take the stereotypical ‘aggressive’ approach when talking to students, not even the ones I sometimes have to refer to the Department of Juvenile Services or arrest,” he said.

The growth in the number of officers inside schools over the last quarter century has led to fears about children getting caught up in the criminal justice system, furthering the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. A 2013 review by the Congressional Research Service found that students in schools with resources officers might be more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses, but studies also indicated that the officers could deter students from committing assaults or bringing weapons to campus. Critics in some communities also have argued the funding would be better spent on mental health programming and school counselors.

Some school resource officers have come up short of expectations, including the school resource officer in Parkland, Florida, who remained outside rather than entering the building to engage the shooter.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, school security video showed a sheriff’s deputy slamming a 15-year-old girl to the ground in September after she tapped his knee with her foot. In October, a New Mexico police officer was shown on video throwing an 11-year-old girl on the ground.

Officers with experience as school resource officers say those with the right skills can make a lasting difference in children’s lives.

“A patrol officer can get an award for saving a life or reviving a person in an overdose situation. You can’t quantify how successful a school resource officer is,” said Officer Kelly DeJonge, a spokeswoman for the Glendale, Wisconsin, police department who spent a decade as a high school resource officer. “If a kid is dealing with mental health issues, and they come to a school resource officer, and they are there to help and listen to them, did that officer save that person’s life possibly? You never know.”

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Bethel High School Navy JROTC to again collect old Christmas trees

As local volunteer fire departments sell Christmas trees in an annual fundraiser, another group is thinking beyond the holiday.  The Bethel High School Navy JROTC runs a Christmas tree pick up program for recycling.

All trees will be picked up and mulched on January 11th.  Bethel residents participating in the program are asked to have trees placed curbside by 9am.  A $10 donation is suggested and goes toward Educational Programs for the cadets. Checks payable to “Bethel NJROTC Boosters” or cash should be placed in an envelope taped inside storm doors or other accessible area. 

Any Bethel residents interested in helping the cadets should E-mail: BethelNJROTCboosters@gmail.com with Name, Address and Phone Number.

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Minor fire reported at Maron Hotel

There was a minor fire at the Maron Hotel in Danbury on Friday.  Officials say the cause was a small lighting fixture in a room on the 3rd floor.  Spokesman James Gagliardo says there was an impressive amount of smoke, but fire crews made a quick response.  There were no injuries reported.  The occupants had to change hotel rooms, but there was no other disruption.  Firefighters ventilated the building and cleared the scene.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed to consider capital project funding

The Ridgefield Board of Education is meeting tonight about capital improvement funding.  The Ridgefield Press reports that 39 items over 5 years would be funded under the plan presented to the Board last month.  7 projects would be funded in the upcoming school year.  That includes removing and replacing 30-year-old oil tanks at Farmingville, Branchville and Ridgebury elementary schools.  Asbestos abatement and floor re-tiling are proposed for Scotland and Branchville.  All of those items total $747,650.  Some $1,043,087 in building improvement projects is also requested.  That money would go toward auditorium upgrades at East Ridge Middle School, Ridgefield High School, Barlow Mountain and Scotland elementary schools.  Well infrastructure improvements at Branchville and Farmingville schools and LED lighting upgrades at Ridgebury and bathroom renovations at the high school, East Ridge, Branchville, Farmingville and Veterans Park are also planned.

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Newtown Police charge man for alleged jet ski thefts

Newtown Police say a former Waterbury man has turned himself in on larceny charges for allegedly stealing 4 jet skis from town this summer.  31-year old Jerrysan Rohena turned himself into the Newtown Police Friday.  He was released on 50-thousand dollars court set bond and ordered to return to court at a later date.  Newtown Police spokesman Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says detectives did an excellent job putting this case together, including working with other agencies to help identify and arrest this suspect.

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Six new Danbury firefighters sworn in

Six new Danbury firefighters have been sworn in.  The newest members received their badges at a ceremony yesterday.  They graduated from the Connecticut Fire Academy's Recruit Firefighter program on Friday, after spending 15 weeks as residential students learning the skills it takes to be career firefighters.  The Recruit Class consisted of 66 firefighters from 21 departments.  The probationary firefighters have one more week of in-house training, and then will report to their respective platoons effective December 15th.  Also Saturday, the Danbury Fire Department Annual Awards Ceremony took place. 

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Women's Center looking for new Board Committee members

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury is looking fo community members to work on Board Committees and join the Board of Directors. The Women’s Center, founded in 1975, has been a safe haven as the sole provider of services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in 13 towns around the Greater Danbury area.  The organization serves women, men and children at their office,West Conn, at Danbury Superior Court, and in area police stations and hospitals. Each year, the Women's Center serves more than 30,000 individuals with free and confidential services. The Center's key areas of focus include emergency shelter and support services, counseling and advocacy, crisis intervention, and community education.  Volunteers are needed for the Development,. Marketing, Finance and Governance Committees.

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Bethel Police annual holiday toy drive this weekend

The Bethel Police Department Annual Toy Drive is around the corner.  Bethel Police will be in front of the Toy Room on Greenwood Avenue on Saturday, from 10am to 3pm, to accept donations of toys for all ages.  Bethel Police officials say they are excited to help make the holidays special and look forward to seeing residents there.  Anyone who is unable to attend the event, but want to participate, a donation box has been placed in the Bethel Police Department Lobby. All donations will benefit Bethel Social Services and the Women’s Center of Danbury.

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Former Danbury priest removed from his duties by the Diocese of Bridgeport

A priest has been stripped of his job amid allegations of abuse.  The Rev. Jaime Marin-Cardona has been removed from his duties by the Diocese of Bridgeport.  He is prohibited from engaging in public ministry.  The clergy’s Sexual Misconduct Review Board learned the state found the accusations credible.  There is an ongoing investigation by Danbury Police into the allegations.  He served at Our Lady of Guadalupe on Golden Hill Road in Danbury.  The diocese received a letter in September indicating that “parents were concerned by Father Marin-Cardona’s contact with a family member who is a minor.  Originally from Columbia, he joined the Bridgeport Diocese nearly a decade ago, and most recently served at Saint Mary Parish in Bridgeport.

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