Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Army National Guardsman Dan Naimoli

Remember Our Heroes

Officer Dan Naimoli was known within the police department for showing up to work 30 minutes early every day. When roll call came on Tuesday afternoon and Naimoli was nowhere to be found, Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said coworkers knew something was wrong. Naimoli, 28, a third generation Meriden police officer, was found dead in his Mattabassett Drive home around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. He was found in bed and died while sleeping, police and fire officials said.

“He was a well-liked and well-respected officer, especially among his coworkers. Many of his fellow officers are understandably very upset and it’s a solemn time within the department,” Cossette said Wednesday. “Unfortunately we’ve been through this before and we have been able to operate like a tight-knit family. These officers will remain professional and find a way to go out and do their job.”
No official cause of death has been determined, police said, but a preliminary investigation determined there were no signs of foul play. Staff with the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington said a preliminary autopsy was conducted on Wednesday but an official cause of death is pending further studies including a toxicology exam and is expected to take seven to 12 weeks to complete.

Naimoli is survived by two sons, Nicholas and Robert Ghidini Naimoli, ages 7 and 3. Family members did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

The death came as a shock to those within the police department.

City Councilor John J. Thorp, an auxiliary officer with the department, said he will never be able to forget the big smile and wave that Naimoli gave him just before noon Tuesday while working a private duty job for Connecticut Light & Power.

Following his road detail, he returned to the department where he was seen as late as 1 p.m. before telling others he intended to rest before he was scheduled to return at 3 p.m., Thorp and Cossette said.

“Dan is going to be a tough man to replace. He was someone who even though he was new to the department already had a decorated history of serving the city, state and country,” Thorp said.

Naimoli was a Meriden native who graduated from Wilcox Technical High School in 2000 and joined the Army National Guard, remaining as a reservist until his death. He was called on to assist with the Guard’s response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Naimoli worked as a mechanic first for Bob’s Garage and Autobody before later becoming a full-time mechanic for the National Guard. He was also known as a talented, dedicated volunteer firefighter and spent a lot of his free time at the South Meriden Volunteer Fire Department after joining in 2002, City Councilor and Volunteer Fire Chief Keith Gordon said, following in the footsteps of his uncle, former Meriden Assistant Fire Chief Ray Guest.

“Dan came to us as a kid off the street and he never looked back,” said Gordon. “He was always here working on the truck, and if there was an event he was the guy to call because you knew he’d always find a way to help out.”

In 2008, Naimoli took a step back from active duty with the fire department when an opportunity arose to join the police department. His grandfather, Anthony J. Naimoli, retired as a detective in 1976, and his great-grandfather, Amos Guest, served with the department as a sergeant through the late 1960s.

Gordon said following in the family tradition of public service was something Naimoli took great pride in.

“He was never more excited than he was when he found out he had been hired to be a police officer. That was always a goal of his and he was happy to be able to follow the path his grandfather had taken,” Gordon said.

Although with the department just a short time, Naimoli was a popular officer, Cossette said, and had already shown a lot of initiative. The loss is especially hard on the department because Naimoli was close friends with several officers before he was hired and is the fourth officer to die in the past five years.

Sgt. Jeffrey Boucher died in a car accident in September 2006, Det. Lt. William F. Staton died in March 2007 following a lengthy sick leave with pneumonia and School Resource Officer Daniel Jakiela died at his home in October 2009. The latest death has taken its toll on officers, Cossette said, but they are leaning on each other for support.

Thorp said the city lost not only a good officer but a future leader in Naimoli. “Dan had something that not many brought to the table,” he said. “He was a guy that at such a young age had already served his country in so many ways and was a man I truly believed had the potential to be an administrative leader in that department someday. His death is a major loss for the city of Meriden.”

Army National Guardsman Dan Naimoli died 7/20/10.

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