After a promotion to lieutenant, Cronin headed the police department’s training academy and then worked in its Bureau of Criminal Investigations before landing in internal affairs.
Nivakoff worked with Cronin on the West Side as crack cocaine became popular and began fueling violence in the city.
“I loved the man, and I miss him already,” Nivakoff said on Saturday.
Nivakoff said he learned more from Cronin than any other supervisor, a common statement from many officers who worked under him. The chief said Cronin taught him that people on both sides of the law deserve compassion and equal treatment. Stamford police Officer Angel Gonzalez, a major crimes investigator who grew up in the West Side, said he remembered Cronin being a well-known figure in his community.
“Everybody knew Pinky,” he said. “He would interact a lot with the kids. If you were a criminal he would be on you and if you weren’t one, then he would be there for you.”
While his compassion gained him popularity on the streets, his toughness helped form his reputation within the department. When Cronin was first diagnosed with cancer and began receiving chemotherapy, Nivakoff said he would get treatment in the morning and then report to work later that day for the 3-to-11 p.m. shift.
“They don’t make them like that anymore,” Stamford police Sgt. Richard Phelan said. “People who come on the job are going to hear stories about Frank Cronin.”
Sgt. Anthony Lupinacci, an investigative supervisor, was a brother-in-law to Cronin, who married his sister in 1970. He said Cronin was admired for his resilience through his health problems. Cronin was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells in bone marrow, but the cancer later spread throughout his body. Lupinacci said the past few years were marked by Cronin’s refusal to succumb to the cancer.
“He’d be near death’s door and then come back to work again,” Lupinacci said.
The outlook was grim a month ago, when a Catholic priest gave him last rites at Stamford Hospital, but a few days later Cronin was sitting up and watching TV.
“It looked like he was going to make another comeback, but this time things just got the best of him,” Lupinacci said. “I’ve never saw somebody with such a strong will to live.”
Nivakoff said the department will hold an inspector’s funeral for Cronin on Tuesday.
— Staff Writer Jeff Morganteen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-964-2215.