New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley received a formal reprimand from Mayor Daryl Finizio Monday for sending emails that were "outside the boundaries of proper managerial conduct."
The mayor wrote in his decision that the e-mails in question, which Ackley sent to city resident Kathleen Mitchell and recommended that Mitchell request the personnel records of two NLPD officers, could also "undermine confidence in any Chief's ability to effectively lead the department."
To view the full PDF of Finizio's findings, click on the PDF file attached to this story.
In a press release, police union Vice President Dave McElroy called Monday a "sad day" for the city of New London and that “the actions of Chief Ackley not only violated the public’s trust but also created a cloud of suspicion and mistrust of her rank and file officers."
“Our members appreciate Mayor Finizio for taking our concerns seriously and with his help can now move the police department in a new direction forward,” police union executive board member Chuck Flynn said.
For her part, Ackley denied that she had violated any city provision and stood by her comments.
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, city attorney Brian Estep, and Chief Administrative Officer Jane Glover met with Ackley and her attorney Oct. 11 for a pre-disciplinary hearing that was continued until Oct. 19.
The union requested an independent investigation based on a stance Finizio 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 at the time.