Personal possession of marijuana should not tie up police resources or lead to punishment for most municipal employees, Mayor Daryl Finizio ordered on Tuesday morning.
Finizio signed four executive orders on his first official day in office in a brief ceremony that also saw the swearing in of newly appointed administrators. The other orders put restrictions on the use of profiling or inquiries about immigration status by the . Finizio also issued a proclamation of a New London Neighbor Day.
One executive order declares that no police department should issue an infraction or violation to anyone who possesses marijuana or associated paraphernalia on private property. It also says that no disciplinary action should be taken against an officer who does not independently take action to issue an infraction or violation in these circumstances.
The order only applies in cases where a person in possession of marijuana or paraphernalia does not make a complaint to the police department or request their assistance. It also declares that the order does not bar officers from enforcing the charge if a person requests police assistance or possesses marijuana or paraphernalia on public property, and says that the order does not prohibit officers from enforcing state and federal marijuana laws.
“The only offense referenced here is marijuana possession,” said Finizio.
Another order declares that no municipal employee should be disciplined if a random drug test is positive for marijuana, with the exception of drivers with a commercial driving license and workers in "safety-sensitive positions." The order says it does not limit federal laws requiring employee assistance therapy, follow-up testing, and other requirements for CDL-required positions. It also says it does not limit current testing polices or procedures related to illegal drug use and that the order should not be interpreted “to authorize illegal drug use or possession on the job.”
The rationale given for the first order is that New London “as an urban center has many serious criminal enforcement and protection issues” and “wishes to prioritize where police resources are focused and utilized.” The rationale for the second order is that “good, dependable employees should not be disciplined or terminated based upon infraction-level offenses” and “rational basis does not exist to support the current testing policies as they relate to the personal use of marijuana on private property.”
In June, the Connecticut became the 14th state to decriminalize possession fo small amounts of marijuana. The General Assembly passed legislation classifying possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana as an infraction with a $150 fine, rather than as a criminal misdemeanor. The fine would increase to $200 to $500 for subsequent offenses, with referral to a drug education program after the third violation. Offenders under age 21 would also lose their driver’s license for 60 days and juveniles 16 years of age and under will be referred to juvenile court.
Finizio’s orders stem from City Charter revisions with the change to a strong mayor form of government. These include the provision that the mayor may direct and control all departments of the municipal government.
Finizio’s first order declared that the “profiling of persons based upon their racial, religious, sexual and/or ethnic background as the sole or primary reason and purpose for any stop, or as the sole or primary reason and purpose for establishing probable cause, shall not be permitted or practiced by the New London Police Department.”
This order says the basis for the order is New London’s diverse population and the illegality of such profiling. A final order declared that in order to “foster a feeling of safety, and promote cooperation between its citizens, residents and guests with the New London Police Department,” police officers should not inquire about an individual’s immigration status unless it directly pertains to a criminal investigation.
“Officers of the New London Police Department shall not independently undertake to approach, interview, interrogate, detain or arrest any suspected illegal alien or refugee when a potential violation of the federal immigration law is not the principal issue.”
Finizio said he consulted with the Police Chief Margaret Ackley, Law Director Tom Londregan, City Manager Denise Rose, and other parties in forming the executive orders. He said he promised he would issue them in his “Vision for New London” document, at a , and an on the “war on drugs.”
Neighbor Day and swearing in
In a separate mayoral proclamation, Finizio authorized a to take place in front of . Finizio helped establish the celebration in Westerly, R.I. and took part in the first celebration in New London this year. The proclamation declares that the celebration will take place on the first Sunday before Memorial Day in perpetuity.
Tuesday also saw the formal swearing in of the administrators in Finizio’s cabinet. These included:
- Margaret Ackley as police chief
- Ron Samul as fire chief
- Jeffrey T. Londregan as law director (pursuant to approval by the City Council at tonight’s meeting)
- Jeff Smith as director of the
- Timothy Hanser as director of the
- Kristin Havrilla Clarke as director of the
- Tommie L. Major as director of the
- Joseph Lanzafame as director of the
- Lorraine Allen as a member of the Board of Tax Assessment Appeals
- Tammy Daugherty as office administrator and principal secretary to the mayor’s office
- Zak Leavy as executive assistant to the mayor
- Jane Glover as chief of staff