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Friday, January 11, 2008

Sad goodbye to a respected Orange officer

By James Tinley
Register Staff
— Throngs of mourners that included police officers from throughout the state filled St. Mary Church Thursday for the funeral of the 28-year-old Orange police officer who died this week when his car crashed on Route 15.
Officer Kevin Czesnowski was a promising young officer who "was just beginning to shine" when his life was cut short when his SUV crashed on the Wilbur Cross Parkway near his Hamden home early Sunday, Orange Police Chief Robert Gagne said Thursday during his eulogy for Czesnowski.
Officers from Stratford, Monroe, Norwalk, Milford, Orange and some 10 other municipalities attended the funeral Mass celebrated by the Rev. Skip Karcsinksi of St. Jude Church in Monroe. The funeral procession, led by about 30 motorcycle officers, traveled to Mount St. Peter’s Cemetery in Derby, where Czesnowski was buried.
Czesnowski distinguished himself as someone who was going to be an exemplary police officer even before graduating from the police academy, Gagne said. Czesnowski aced five difficult exams involving arrest laws and police procedures before eventually finishing in the top five at the Police Academy class of hundreds in 2006, Gagne told more than 300 people who attended the funeral.
The promise Czesnowski possessed materialized as an Orange police officer when helped rescue an elderly woman from her burning home in November. Czesnowski also led patrol officers on the force in the number of motor vehicle and criminal arrests in 2007, which was only his second year on the force.
Gagne told his fellow Orange police officers that they "can honor Kevin’s memory by doing your best and being the best police officer you can be.
Czesnowski, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, also graduated from Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge in 1998, and later returned to the school to serve as assistant ski coach.
"Our students were quite upset about (his death); he had a close connection to the team as a former member of the team and a former Amity grad, as well as giving his time to coach," Amity Superintendent of Schools John Brady said Thursday.
Brady added that the school staff worked quickly to provide grief counseling for students in need of someone with whom to talk.
"As soon as we got word, we put in place counseling sessions for students," Brady said. "We are getting through it, the kids are resilient, but it’s definitely a sad time at the school."
Before ending the Mass, Karcsinksi asked those present to honor Czesnowski by looking around the room and recognizing the people surrounding them as "a gift," and to "let yourself be sent as a gift to others."
Czesnowski’s parents said in a prepared statement that they "express their heartfelt appreciation for the Orange Police Department — especially Chief Robert Gagne — and all the municipalities and police personnel that were involved in Thursday’s service."
James Tinley can be reached at or 876-3030.


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