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Committee Unclear On Investigating Authority In New London Police Chief's E-mail

Police-Community Relations Committee seeking investigation from either mayor or City Council of message deemed an "insult"

The Police-Community Relations Committee said on Tuesday that it is awaiting an answer on which entity would be charged with investigating an e-mail in which Police Chief Margaret Ackley accuses the committee chairman and police union president of trying to disband the committee.

The committee voted at a May 1 meeting to request the City Council and Mayor Daryl Finizio to investigate the matter. However, committee chairman Jay Wheeler said it was unclear which part of the city government would look into it.

Wade Hyslop, president pro tempore of the City Council and the council liaison to the committee, said the matter came up during at Monday’s council meeting. He said there was no clear indication from this who would have the investigative authority.

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“That’s not an adequate answer, but that’s the answer I can give you,” said Hyslop.

In the e-mail, sent on Sept. 29 to resident Kathleen Mitchell, Ackley urges Mitchell to rally supporters to the committee’s next meeting. Ackley also alleged that Wheeler and Todd Lynch, president of the New London Police Union, would attempt to get the council and law director to disband the committee.

Ackley says in the e-mail that civilian complaints against the are read in public, and that Lynch has argued that doing so is unfair to police officers. She says Wheeler has complained that the committee lacks power to make a decision on whether an investigation is adequate because it cannot view all of the documents in the file, and has sought the establishment of a police commission instead.

“He and Lynch are both after the same thing, but trying to get there by different paths so it doesn’t appear to be favoring the police,” says Ackley. “Without this committee the public would never know which cops have complaints lodged against them and what the complaints say. (Maybe no one will find out that Lynch has more than any other cop).”

Ackley says investigative reports were once read in executive session but were later read in the open. She said other documents in the complaints cannot be released under the Freedom of Information Act.

“I’m really tired of fighting Wheeler, it’s never ending, call your friends, people need to be there to make sure that Wheeler and Lynch can’t trick people into letting this committee be disbanded or becoming a police commission where Jay and company can determine which complaints are accepted and who gets investigated,” Ackley writes.

Earlier this year, Lynch in her individual and municipal capacities, charging libel and violation of First Amendment rights. Lynch claims Ackley has acted in a retaliatory manner due to criticisms of the chief, including disagreements over how civilian complaints are addressed. The lawsuit also cites several different e-mails between Ackley and Mitchell, whom the suit describes as talk show host, frequent commenter on news sites, and “known political gadfly.”

“It’s an insult to me and this committee,” Wheeler said of the Sept. 29 e-mail.

Committee members also called for more communication between the committee, city government, and police department. Ackley was absent due to a medical emergency involving her father, but committee member Wayne Vendetto said the deputy chief or another police administrator should have attended to present information on civilian complaints. Darrin O’Mara, representing the police union, questioned whether such absences could represent a breach of the committee’s consent agreement.

“Every month there’s an excuse for why we’re not getting information, and I’m sick of it,” said committee member Marie-Ann Gravell.

“It’s not right,” said Wheeler. “It shouldn’t be this way, and it needs to change.”

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Get Real June 08, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Maybe the complaints are not supported by real facts. These complaints should not be made public unless they are substantiated by real evidence. The police officers already are not supported enough. Being slammed with complaints that are not substantiated all the time because it is a free for all in New London with complaints against officers, is the major issue here. The solution to this issue is to arrest those that file false reports. That would rid the system of false complaints and get to those that may have some merit. Filing a complaint because you have been arrested is what the whole CC system has developed into. Putting aside the while Lynch/Ackley Blockbuster, there is a real issue that needs to be adressed with the whole CC system and how it is misused by the public to be a whining session by those arrested. The current system undermines the whole law enforcement process in general and would make any officer not want to do there job because they are always guilty till proven innocent.
lion king June 10, 2012 at 01:56 PM
get real, maybe the complaints are not supported by real facts ,will if some facts are not put into these investagations than how is anyone to judge if they are real or not ,re shrine file ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Alan Green, Jr. June 10, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I'm just curious. Would I complain to this organization if I were to witness a police officer spitting in public? I don't know why that bothered me Thursday evening, but it did.
--Robert June 10, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Alan, you might want to speak to the Shift Commander if something you witnessed was offensive or non-professional. I don't have any idea about the circumstances of what you saw, but an officer spitting on the sidewalk might be a non-issue, or one of those personnel items where a superior officer takes him aside and says, hey, try not to do that in public. If it were a case of something like spitting on a suspect, or even onto a building, car, or sign as a sign of intentional disrespect, it might be brought to a higher level.
Alan Green, Jr. June 10, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Thanks, Robert - nothing egregious. Just several times, while on a layover talking with a fellow officer, probably not aware that he was in line of sight, he spit. Just short little spits. At nothing but the ground. Not overly offensive to me personally, though not exactly what I'd call 'role model' behavior. Perhaps just mentioning it in a forum like this might let officers know that, when in uniform in public, people notice even the little things... I think most mothers try to teach their kids not to spit in public? I've only seen it this once and only from this particular officer. I wouldn't call it systemic behavior. And, spitting or not, I'd thank that officer for his service and not want to get him in any trouble!

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