Norwalk honors one of its heroes


Oscar Torres

City Council Members giving out plaques for the Hometown Heroes that were in the Room. They considered Kevin Gano as one of their Hometown heroes.

Oscar Torres, Staff Writer

Norwalk held their second city hall meeting on Feb. 4 where they gave a speech and a few words about Kevin Gano, a former Deputy City Manager and Public Safety Department founder who tragically passed away on Feb. 2 after battling cancer for so long.

Before his death, Gano became a respected leader for Norwalk for introducing a community policy and for his positive impact for the city in reducing crime.

He started his job in law enforcement in 1973 before he came to Norwalk, and since being here, has became a vital person in the city’s history.

In the 90’s, Norwalk’s streets and neighborhoods were rampant with gangs who were named after their neighborhood streets or turf. As as result of the growing crimes that has been happening in Norwalk, the city established the Public Safety Department founded by Gano and he became the department’s first director.

Vice Mayor Luigi Vernola said, “His approach to public safety changed the face of Norwalk. Community policing gave residents a sense of security to enjoy gatherings outside of their homes-something that had not been possible.”

For over 15 years, it changed the community’s outlook on law enforcement by having positive communication, understanding and trusting relationships. What Gano managed to do for the city worked as trust toward police increased, improving the response time for them and a decrease in crime rate substantially.

In fact, in the 2000’s, the FBI ranked Norwalk the top 20 safest cities within a population of over 100K.

“Norwalk would have not be the thriving city it is today without Kevin’s leadership. He was a true public servant who went beyond the badge to help at-risk teens, growing professionals and the entire community,” council member Tony Ayala said.

With this success, Gano would go on and work with other law enforcement agencies to help build up programs that would decrease crime and help out families with their teens.

Some of these programs include Street Gang Injunction, Family Intervention Team, Community Probation, Curfew Enforcement and many more.

He returned to Norwalk in 2018 under the new title of Deputy City manager and continued to help out the city in any way possible, approaching new ways to help citizens including events like Coffee With a Cop, National Night Out, Neighborhood/Business Watch and many more.

Leonardo Shryock, council member for Norwalk, said, “I didn’t know him that well but when he came on in a second sort of stent I can tell he was a detailed-oriented guy, that he followed up on a lot of things. Anytime I called him, he took care of the issue right away. He was very personable. He cared about people and he believed in people. I think that was important as a leader. He believed in people. He tried to give them what they needed and then they encouraged him to go do their best.”

Council member Jennifer Perez said about him, “Kevin was the most well-respected individuals, not just in Norwalk, but in the entire law enforcement community. His exceptional character and holistic approach to public safety made him a revered household name.”

Mayor Margarita Rios has said about him, “What stands out to me the most about Kevin is that he was a hard worker, i mean he was here early in the morning he was one of the people who would stay the latest and he was very quick about the understandings the needs of the community were and then tackling these issues so he was very good, he knew Norwalk.”

The city has already built a memorial site for him at the Tribute to Norwalk’s Emergency Professional Monument at the City Hall lawn.