It's no secret that the relationship between New London Police Union and New London Police Department administration under the leadership of Chief Margaret Ackley has been a contentious one. This week, however, it became even more fractious.
The most recent issues stem from a rape investigation this summer that the Police Department said turned out to be a false report. An internal investigation into media leaks about the case led to the suspension of Officer David McElroy. In a press release issued last month, Police Union AFSCME Council 15, said that Chief Ackley had offered to go easy on McElroy if New London Police Union President Todd Lynch, who has a lawsuit pending against the chief, would retire.
Since then, there has been much back and forth over what offers were made, by whom, to whom, and to what end. Much of that was detailed in an article that appeared in the New London Day on December 4. In an interview with The Day for the article, Lynch said he "never agreed to step down as president or quit the department," and that the negotiations were between attorneys.
The article prompted the Mayor's office to respond with the following press release early Wednesday evening:
In today’s reporting in TheDay newspaper, Police Union President Todd Lynch repeated his pattern of mistruths and rewriting history regarding his actions and the actions of the Police Union attorney.
On October 11, the Union attorney contacted Brian Estep, the City labor attorney, to offer the resignation of Officer Lynch as Union President and withdrawal of a substantial amount of grievances in exchange for leniency for Officer McElroy. The Union attorney then discussed a second time with Attorney Estep, on October 18, about the resignation of President Lynch but this time stipulated that Lynch would resign only if the City settled his pending lawsuit against the City. These offers were made prior to the City’s counter offer given to Officer Lynch through Attorney Brown dealing with his resignation.
“Before contract negotiations that were scheduled for October 18, we agreed to discuss the McElroy issue prior to formal negotiations and the Union made a written proposal that included withdrawal of a substantial number of grievances and an agreement to suspend Officer McElroy,” said Deputy Chief Reichard.
“During these discussions the Police Union attorney advised Deputy Chief Reichard, Attorney Estep, and myself that Officer Lynch was concerned about the appearance of his resignation in regards to his lawsuit and he would be interested in resigning his post if the City settled his lawsuit,” said CAO Jane Glover.
On two separate occasions, the Union offered the resignation of Todd Lynch as Union President through their attorney. The second time, the payment of funds as settlement of Todd Lynch’s lawsuit against the City was a requirement.
The continuous Union leadership pattern of attempting to conduct contract negotiations through the press has been ongoing throughout the past year. Union President Lynch has already broken the ground rules for collective bargaining agreed upon by both sides when he approached the City Council last Summer regarding the Police K-9 program. This action was taken to circumvent the collective bargaining process. This action was followed by the leaking of confidential documents during an ongoing criminal investigation in an effort to score political points.
“I fully support the hard-working men and women of our Police Department but these continued actions make it increasingly difficult for them to get the resources and back up they deserve from the City,” said Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. “I want these brave men and women to get a good contract that they deserve. It is sad that the actions of the Union leadership are preventing this from happening.”
The Union leadership has also made false representations that the City is refusing to negotiate until late January. This statement is another blatant lie. The dates given to the City for negotiations in January came from the Union leadership and their attorney. The City negotiating team has been willing to come back to the table for months while the Union has continually refused. In fact, the Union has ended negotiating sessions, and walked away from the table, within 45 minutes after no substantial discussions. The Mayor has never refused to meet with the Union President, Executive Board, or any Union member who has requested a meeting with him.
An incident also occurred more recently on November 25, 2013 involving the Union attorney before a predisciplinary hearing at the police station. This incident is currently being investigated by CAO Glover. This latest incident has lead to a workplace violence complaint that CAO Glover received from Chief Ackley under the City of New London’s zero tolerance for violence in the workplace policy.
“The continued lies and misrepresentations by Union leadership have lead to a breakdown in the relationship between the City and the Union. The actions by Union President Todd Lynch are not indicative of a sworn officer of the law but are more relatable to a schoolyard bully who hasn’t gotten his way. These lies, and negotiations through the public domain, are not what the City deserves, and most importantly this is not what the members of our Police Department deserve,” said Mayor Finizio.
“Any Union would be hard-pressed to find a more labor supportive Administration. The failure to negotiate in good faith rests entirely with the Union leadership and in particular its President,” concluded Mayor Finizio.