Norwalk to appoint permanent police chief this month following Thomas Kulhawik's retirement

Kulhawik, who served the department for nearly four decades, including a decade leading the department, retired from the force on Jan. 4, according to city spokesperson Michelle Woods Matthews. 

Deputy Chief James Walsh was promoted to interim chief and Lt. Terry Blake was promoted to interim deputy chief, Woods Matthews said. Permanent chief and deputy chief leaders will be elected at the Jan. 23 meeting. 

Walsh joined the department on July 7, 1988, where he was assigned to the patrol division for 10 years, Woods Matthews said. 

After nine years of managing patrol officers as patrol sergeant, Walsh was promoted to lieutenant and oversaw patrol for a year before being asked to command the Investigative Services Division, Woods Matthews said. In June 2018, Walsh was promoted to deputy chief, where he led both the operation and administration of the Norwalk Police Department.  

“Interim Chief Walsh has extensive training provided by various recognized local, State and National agencies, including a graduate of the 281st session of the FBI National Academy, Senior Management training (Police Executive Research Forum), Executive Leadership, Command Leadership (FBI LEDA), tactical team management, NIMS, and risk management, to name a few,” Woods Matthews said.

During his tenure as an officer, Walsh earned a number of awards: Officer of the Month in July 2017, Officer of the Year in 2005 and 2012, the Police Service Cross three times, Medal of Merit, Distinguished Service Award seven times and Unit Citation three times. 

Walsh participated in the development of programs within the Norwalk Police Department, including the Tactical Response Team, Peer Support Team, Honor Guard and Advisory Board, Woods Matthews said. He holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration.  

Interim Deputy Chief Blake was hired on Oct. 1, 1998, and assigned to the patrol division and community police, Woods Matthews said. 

In 2006 he was assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force. He was assigned to the Detective Bureau and the United States Marshals Service Violent Fugitive Task Force in 2009.

In his time with the department, Blake served in the patrol, special services and community police services divisions, and the special victims unit, according to Woods Matthews. In 2021 he was assigned to the role of director of combined dispatch.

“In December of 2022, Mayor Rilling appointed him Interim Deputy Chief, following the appointment of then Deputy Chief James Walsh as Interim Chief,” Woods Matthews said. “Additionally, he is in the queue for the FBI National Academy Training.  The start date has not yet been confirmed.”

Abigail Brone can be reached at