Several city councilors, the city’s legal counsel, and Chief Margaret Ackley of the declined comment Wednesday evening after a lengthy executive session to discuss her employment.
The City Council went into executive session at 5:25 p.m. during a special meeting and adjourned at 7:50 p.m., with a short recess at 6:45 p.m. City counsel Thomas Londregan read a statement at the end of the session declaring, “There is an agreement between the city manager and chief of police with confidentiality provisions that the parties have agreed to adhere to.”
Councilor Adam Sprecace said Ackley is still employed by the city.
Before the council went into executive session, city counsel Thomas Londregan said Ackley had not requested that the discussions be held in public. However, he said she had requested that her attorney, Shelley Graves accompany her during the session.
Londregan said the discussion would focus on Ackley’s contracts with the city, and that the discussions could have an effect on the financial arrangements in the contract. According to the agenda, the meeting was called to discuss Ackley’s employment but not her performance or evaluation. Councilor Rob Pero questioned how an executive session could reconcile with the Freedom of Information Act, saying the fact that Ackley’s contract is funded by tax dollars should make it a public document.
“Normally I would agree with you,” said Londregan. “This is not a normal situation.”
Londregan also said that the contract is “not yet effective because there are escape clauses in it,” and that one contract has a clause that it can be vacated by the end of the year. The council voted 5-2 in favor of going into executive session, with Councilor Michael Passero participating via teleconference. The council voted unanimously to allow Graves to accompany Ackley during the session.
Graves requested that Councilor Michael Buscetto III recuse himself from the session. He responded, “Absolutely not.”
According to the city website, Ackley has been with the New London Police Department since 1986, holding the rank of supernumerary police officer, patrol officer, detective, sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. She was sworn in as chief, the first woman to hold the rank in New London, on June 26, 2009. She also holds a master’s degree in public administration and graduated from the FBI National Academy.