SOUTHINGTON - The Town Council honored the late police K-9 Officer Arno at its meeting Monday and met the dog who will replace him.
A picture of Arno, who died Saturday, and his retired handler, Officer John Mahon, stood next to the area at which the council was seated.
“He served our town so well,” said council Chair Victoria Triano. “K-9 officers are officers and our police department has a monument set up for K-9 officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Deputy Police Chief Bill Palmieri said Arno died peacefully, sitting by a lake in Florida.
He expanded on the dog’s service, which stretched from 2010 to 2019. With Mahon, Arno received the Connecticut Police Dog Association Tracking Award in 2015.
“In 2015, Arno and Officer Mahon tracked suspects for two hours in 5-degree weather and waist-deep snow,” he said. “The local Target had been burglarized and, after [the burglars] were apprehended, they were linked to burglaries at 13 Target stores up and down the East Coast and also in Florida and Texas.”
The council was then introduced to Officer Neal Ayotte and K-9 Tank, who had just graduated training and will be “picking up the torch.”
A public hearing was also held on a proposed “Do Not Block the Box” ordinance, which was approved later in the meeting.
Palmieri said motorists who block intersections on designated town roads, marked with signs, would be subject to a $92 fine. One such road will be Spring Street, in front of Plan b Burger Bar.
“Our plan is to start with educational campaigns and written warnings,” he said. “We want to raise awareness then, if we have to, we will enforce the ordinance.”
Pamela DePaolo, president and CEO of DePaolo Furniture, spoke in favor of the ordinance. She argued that, while driving through town, “most intersections that can be blocked will be blocked.”
“Our roads are narrow and not built to handle this volume of traffic,” she said. “Please make this the law and enforce it if you have to.”
Steve Kalkowski, who serves on the Planning and Zoning Commission, also submitted a letter in support of the ordinance, which Triano read into the record.
Several members of American Legion Post 72 were present and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Triano read a proclamation recognizing the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Legion. She praised the organization for advocating for “patriotism, honor and a strong national security” and for working to ensure that veterans are cared for and appreciated.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.