The F.A.S.T. Co. donates sets of memorial cards to all partners
I need your help to inform me of such losses.
In Loving Memory of
July 23, 2002
Handler: Officer Celeste M. Robitaille
Stratford Police Department
900 Longbrook Avenue,
Stratford, Connecticut 06615.
Phone: 203-385-4100 (911 for emergencies)
Fax: 203-385-4134- Tel. (203) 380-6766
Vice President of Association. (C.P.W.D.A)
Just one example of
The Stratford Police unveiled a monument last Thursday to two of their fallen officers, police dogs Groll and Harley. An honor guard of K-9 units from around the state, and the Stratford Police Honor Guard, was present to show support and dedicate the memorial. "They are fearless, loyal and loving," said Chief Michael Imbro of police dogs. "Their passing impels us to recognize the short amount of time we have." Officer Celeste Robitalle, Groll's handler, said, "I'll never forget the day I met Groll for the first time. He was a skinny, hyper German shepherd who wouldn't listen to a word I said. I know Groll is in good company with K-9s Shadow, Max and Jack." Detective Jack Cratty read a poem, "Guardians of the Night," from the North American Police Working Dog Association website. The author is unknown. Groll was the department's patrol dog. Harley was a narcotics dog. The monument is made of black marble and bears the names of all Stratford's police dogs since the program's inception in 1985. "It is one of the most successful programs we have implemented over the years," Imbro said. "Just the presence of a trained K-9 and his handler makes a criminal think twice." The department plans to replace The two dogs it lost recently and add a second patrol dog. Each dog will cost $6,000. The department has received some outside help in raising funds for the new dogs.Erica Pazkowski, a Bunnell High School freshman, raised $5,024 toward the cost of a new narcotics dog. "[She started collections at] the end of January," said Vicki Spada, Erica's mother. Capt. Andrew Knapp said, "Vicki Spada and her daughter Erica Pazkowski went above and beyond the call of duty. Pazkowski collected money at Flood Middle School, Stop & Shop and other locations, and also received mail-in donations. "She really liked Harley," Spada said. "She always looked forward to seeing him. She's an animal lover. She says the K-9s are a very important part of the police department." Spada and Pazkowski have two dogs at home. Memorial Service for K-9 Groll
©Stratford Star 2002 Stratford Police Department
Just one example of Groll's work: On February 4th, Officer Robitaille assisted the Valley Street Crime Unit with the execution of a search warrant in Shelton Connecticut. On arriving at the residence, a male suspect standing outside, hit an officer in the face and fled on foot. Officer Robitaille ordered the suspect to stop or she would release her K-9 partner Groll. The suspect stopped running and surrendered. During the search Groll detected various narcotics and paraphernalia that was hidden throughout the apartment and even a bag of marijuana that was thrown off a second story balcony.
STRATFORD POLICE MOURN LOSS OF POLICE OFFICER By STEVEN SCARPA
Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - STRATFORD
Police Officer Celeste Robitaille knew there was something terribly wrong with her police dog, Groll, recently when he failed to run over to her as she laced up her boots for work. "Groll was a very social and loving dog, but when it came to work he was all business," said Robitaille. But instead of gearing up for work that fateful day, the German shepherd canine officer looked over at Robitaille and lay back down on the ground. Robitaille immediately knew thecancer Groll was diagnosed with on July 1st, had finally overtaken him. It was July 22. Groll died the next day. He was 6 years old and had been working with Robitaille and Stratford police since 1997. Groll's death hit Robitaille hard. He was more than just a partner- Robitaille and Groll were only apart for one week since she first got him more than four years ago. "We were a good team," she said. In tribute to Groll, the officers on Robitaille's shift placed black mourning bands on their badges, customarily done when an officer dies in the line of duty.Supervisors also
lowered the flags at police headquarters to half-staff. "That was an indication of how much he was loved by the guys here," Robitaille said.Groll was an integral part of the Police Department, said Capt. Mark DeLieto, Robitaille's shift commander. "You had confidence in that dog," he said. He assisted in 690 police calls, resulting in 143 arrests and the seizure of drugs and cash. The dog also provided assistance for Bridgeport, Milford and Trumbull police, as well as the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Robitaille's patient work with Groll was a critical factor in his becoming an effective canine, DeLieto said. "As successful as a dog is, it is mainly because of its handler," he said.Acting Chief Michael Imbro has said the department hopes to replace Groll by the fall. Robitaille has volunteered to be the trainer and handler for the department's next canine. But, for the time being, Groll remains a strong presence in Robitaille's life. "I still sense him. Sometimes I turn around and think he is still following behind me it has been difficult," she said.Steven Scarpa, who covers Stratford, can be reached at 330-6287.