Mayor Daryl Finizio said today that an administrative investigation into Police Chief Margaret Ackley is complete and that the findings will likely be released next week.
Todd Lynch, the president of the New London Police Union, recently requested an impartial investigation of his allegations that Ackley has tried to undermine and intimidate the union. Lynch has made similar accusations in a lawsuit against Ackley and the city, and asked the city to look into e-mails between Ackley and resident Kathleen Mitchell in which Ackley recommends that Mitchell request the personnel records of Lynch and several other police union members.
Finizio said he, city attorney Brian Estep, and Chief Administrative Officer Jane Glover met with Ackley and her attorney today for a pre-disciplinary hearing. Finizio said he expected to make a decision today on whether any disciplinary action should be taken, but that Ackley’s attorney made a request for clarifications and other information from the city. He said he considered the request to be reasonable and the matter was continued until Oct. 19.
“We’re not going to rush it and screw it up,” said Finizio. “We’re going to do it right.”
Finizio said the hearing will determine whether Ackley violated any departmental procedures in her e-mails to Mitchell. He said there was enough evidence to warrant an investigation but that the pre-disciplinary hearings will determine whether Ackley committed any wrongdoing. Ackley's attorney may present additional objections or defense in the next week.
In requesting that the City Council investigate Ackley, Lynch said he made a similar request for an investigation to Finizio but that he had not heard updates on the request and felt that the administration could be affected by bias. Finizio said he wanted to assure residents that an investigation is proceeding and that the associated documentation will be released once it is completed.
Finizio said the union requested an independent investigation based on a stance he took during his campaign. Responding to Ackley’s accusations of unethical behavior against former city councilor and mayoral candidate Michael Buscetto III, Finizio said in August of 2011 that the charges warranted a federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation using RICO statutes. Finizio said he stood by this statement, but considered Lynch’s accusations against Ackley to be an internal issue rather than a matter of political interference necessitating the wider investigation.
Finizio said any disciplinary action is the sole discretion of the mayor, but that he would abide by recommendations made by Estep and Glover at the conclusion of the investigation. He said that under Connecticut statute, fire and police chiefs may only be removed for cause.
“That is a very, very high standard to meet,” he said.
Lynch’s request to the City Council is currently pending before the Administration Committee, and members have asked Law Director Jeffrey Londregan how they should proceed with the matter. Finizio said the committee has the authority to subpoena witnesses and hold hearings, but that it would only be able to make a recommendation to the mayor on what action to take.