Just two weeks after a badge pinning ceremony celebrated Wilton’s newest police chief and deputy chief, the department and an overflow crowd once again gathered in the Wilton Library’s Brubeck Room on Wednesday afternoon, March 15, for an uplifting promotion event.
This time there were three promotions from within to fill the chain of command after Captains Tom Conlan and Rob Cipolla were named Wilton Police Chief and Deputy Chief respectively. Wednesday saw Lt. Gregg Phillipson promoted to captain, Sgt. Anna Tornello promoted to lieutenant, and Ofc. Jonathan Patry promoted to sergeant.
Moreover, the move represents a first for Wilton, as Tornello’s step up meant the town now has its first female lieutenant in the history of the department.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice spoke of what she saw as a strength of the department.
“It’s just wonderful that all these promotions are coming from within. That’s something that every member of this department should be proud of,” she told the audience.
In his remarks to the crowd, Police Commission member Thomas Sinchak agreed, especially after having interviewed all the candidates who had been considered.
“For those that we interviewed that we were not able to choose, I want you to know particularly that there wasn’t one of you that we didn’t feel would’ve been an incredibly good choice. I walked out of that session feeling grateful to live in a town that has such quality people, dedicated people,” Sinchak said.
As the officers were called up to be sworn in by Town Clerk Lori Kabak, Chief Conlan spoke about each of their accomplishments.
He said the town was “lucky” to have Phillipson, who joined the Wilton Police in 2001, earning the rank of sergeant in 2013 and lieutenant in 2017. Phillipson currently serves as the commander of the five-town Southwest Regional Emergency Response (SWAT) Team, Wilton’s lead accident investigator, coordinator of Wilton’s field training officer division, and has held several other leadership roles.
In addition, he has received multiple lifesaving awards including one for delivering a baby and another for being on a team that rescued a person from a burning car. H
“We’re glad to have him as our captain and we’re very excited to move forward,” Conlan said.
Conlan applauded Tornello for her “impressive” background as an immigrant who came to the U.S. in 2003 from Italy, where she had been a police officer and member of the motorcycle unit emergency response team, and has continued her dedication to public service here.
She joined the Wilton Police in 2010 after graduating first in her Police Academy class and earning the prestigious Luciano Award. She was promoted to sergeant in 2017, taking over as a patrol commander and then moving into the Detective Bureau, “where she became a tenacious investigator who’s done a great job in the past year,” Conlon said.
Tornello is also part of the regional Emergency Response Team as a negotiator and is one of only a few drug recognition experts in Connecticut. She is also one of five members of the department’s new peer support team trained in supporting officers in Wilton (and elsewhere) who may have professional or personal difficulties.
She also has earned a Master’s degree in psychology and is currently pursuing her second post graduate degree, an MBA; speaks three languages; and is an accomplished opera singer.
Tornello’s new position is also an historic one, making her the first woman promoted to lieutenant in the department’s history. “You’re a very well-round individual and … we’re very proud of you,” Conlan said.
Conlan lauded Patry beginning with his military service as a decorated member of the U.S. Marine Corps who served two tours in Iraq. The chief also mentioned Patry’s humility and compassion as a member of the Wilton Police Department since 2014.
“During his career, one thing I’ve noticed with Jon, I started to see all of the letters that we might receive from town residents, we get tons of letters about Jon and how professional he is and how caring he is and how much heart he shows when he goes on investigations… how compassionate Jon’s response is to the community,” Conlan said.
A field training officer and a member of the peer support team as well, Patry has received three lifesaving awards, including one form performing CPR and administering Narcan to save the life of a young man in 2019.