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New London concludes investigation of Ackley emails

Day Staff

Publication: theday.com

Published October 11. 2012 3:00PM   Updated October 12. 2012 12:27AM

New London — Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio conducted a predisciplinary hearing for Police Chief Margaret Ackley Thursday but said he will reserve his decision for about a week to allow her attorney time to pursue some "legitimate" points raised at the hearing.

The mayor said an investigation into emails between the chief and a private citizen had concluded, leading to the hearing. The city's personnel director and chief administrative officer, Jane Glover, and the city's labor attorney, Brian Estep, conducted the investigation.

Finizio did not provide further details on what was reviewed at the hearing, but at issue has been an email correspondence Ackley had with a private resident last fall. The police union has alleged Ackley violated the police department's Duty Manual when she told the resident, Kathleen Mitchell, how to find personal information on some officers.

The president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 724, Todd Lynch, has alleged that Ackley used her position as chief to describe how to obtain disciplinary files on himself, Master Patrol Officer Roger Baker and Officers Charles Flynn, Cornelius Rodgers and Joshua Bergeson, all of whom were active in the union.

Lynch filed a lawsuit in March against the city and the chief, alleging "libelous" emails sent between Ackley and Mitchell. His suit also alleges he was disciplined at work for criticizing the chief.

Lynch said Thursday he was aware the hearing had been held. Because his suit is still pending, he said he could not comment other than to say that he was not contacted by anyone for the investigation.

The hearing was held based on the findings of the investigation, which the mayor said he will not release until he issues his decision. Present at the hearing, besides the mayor and the chief, were Estep, Glover and the chief's attorney.

Ackley could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Finizio said an internal investigation was appropriate despite the union's calls for an independent investigation because it was a personnel matter and there was no allegation of any law being broken.

City Councilor John Maynard, who chairs the Administration Committee, said Thursday that he sought the advice of City Law Director Jeffrey Londregan as to whether the council should pursue its own investigation into the matter.

Maynard said the law director recommended that the council not proceed at this time because of the pending litigation, in which the city is named.

The mayor said he expects to announce his decision and any possible disciplinary action after about a week, and at that time will make all memos, transcripts and other records on the issue public.

Under Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act, once an investigation into a public employee is closed, the findings become public. Finizio said he was following precedent set in other Connecticut municipalities by withholding the results until his decision is reached, saying until then the findings are "work product."

l.mcginley@theday.com

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