Kevin Brace leads the police commission and creates a productive environment
By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., Aug. 1, 2013
After the 2010 bicycle death of Henry Dang and the manner in which the case was handled by the Windsor Locks Police Department, the community was looking for changes, which is why Kevin Brace decided to run for chairman of the police commission. As a leader, Brace has taken the position to a different level, creating more participation amongst the commission, according to First Selectman Steven Wawruck.
“He has rallied both the department and the commission in such a manner that they are carrying out their respective responsibilities in a very professional manner,” said Wawruck.
When Brace ran for chairman, his platform focused on correcting what he saw as some of the “ills” in the police department. Since he took the position in 2011, the Windsor Locks Police Department has begun to adopt new rules and regulations to better fit the needs of the community. The department has become more responsive to the residents' needs and has begun to patrol more, according to Wawruck. “It's been a positive result of Kevin's leadership,” he said.
One of the most significant changes made since Brace has been chairman was the decision to hire an experienced chief. Brace said that until he took over, the department was “treading water,” which is why he and the commission choose Eric Osanitsch to take over the position. Osanitsch was well known for transforming the Bristol Police Department, which is exactly what Windsor Locks needed, according to Brace.
“We needed somebody who was a change agent,” said Brace, “somebody who could come in with a plan to not only get the officers to buy into the plan, but the community as well.”
In the year Osanitsch has been employed, the commission and department worked together to not only implement a plan for new rules and regulations, but they have also recreated their image. The blue cruisers have changed to the “old school” black and white vehicles, and the uniforms are going back to the shirt and tie, which use metal badges and name plates opposed to the patches used on the Battle Dress Uniform style. With the new uniform they will also use the eight-point hat, as opposed to the baseball cap previously worn by officers.
In addition to remaking its image, WLPD is now promoting five sergeants and one lieutenant. As part of the new structure, supervisors are required to participate in formal training. The commission has been trying to implement supervisor training for many years, because the community and officers have wanted to create a more professional department. The officers especially felt they needed to be held to a higher standard.
“This article really shouldn't be about me,” said Brace. “It should be about the department and the commission and how everybody came together and has worked as a team.”
Though there is still a lot of work to do, the department's reputation within the community has improved, according to Brace. He also said the police commission chairmen in East Windsor and Suffield have noticed a change as well.