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Union: New London officer on leave accused of leaks to media

By Greg Smith

Publication: theday.com

Published November 19. 2013 5:00PM   Updated November 20. 2013 12:20AM
Allegations fly regarding controversial report of rape, scheduled 'pre-disciplinary hearing'

New London — Police confirmed on Tuesday that Officer David McElroy, who the union claims is the target of an internal investigation regarding a leak about a reported rape this summer, was placed on administrative leave last month.

Police administration officials declined to comment any further on the issue but in a written statement, the union blasted Police Chief Margaret Ackley and Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio for what they claim is an attack on the local union leadership by offering a deal to McElroy that would force local union President Officer Todd Lynch to resign from the department.

Lynch, a vocal critic of the administration who has a pending lawsuit against Ackley and the city, is not alleged to have had any involvement in the leaked information, according to Eric Brown, an attorney for AFSCME, Council 15, Connecticut Council of Police Unions. Despite that, Brown said Ackley, through the town attorney, offered to issue McElroy, the vice president of the local union, a written reprimand in exchange for Lynch's resignation.

"I have never heard of such an outrageous proposal," Brown said. "The two things are unrelated. It paints the picture that this has been about Lynch all along."

Lynch has no plans to leave, and McElroy plans to defend himself against the accusations, Brown said.

He also said that Ackley, through the town attorney, "intimated that if Lynch did not take the deal, life would become even more difficult for him and union leaders," according to a statement from the union.

When Lynch learned of the offer, he said he was disgusted but not shocked.

"I've been targeted for several years now, and this situation is going to be dealt with by my attorneys," Lynch said. "I continue to dust myself off, put my dog in my car and come to work every day and serve the citizens of the City of New London to the best of my ability. I'm not going to be bullied, blackmailed or coerced to do anything."

Brown reiterated his call for Ackley's resignation, saying morale is at an all-time low at the department and officers continue to leave in droves.

The internal investigation surrounding the leaked information is related to a report of an alleged rape in the downtown area in July. Initially criticized about the lack of information released to the public, the police department later said the incident did not happen as originally reported, and the investigation was halted. Brown said there are still members of the police department who question the accuracy of the information released to the public.

New London Deputy Police Chief Peter Reichard said he was not able to comment on an open investigation or a personnel matter. He did say McElroy has a pre-disciplinary meeting scheduled for Nov. 25.

Zak Leavy, executive assistant to the mayor, said the city would not comment on internal investigations or information pertaining to collective bargaining.

The union's revelations come at a time of increased friction between city administration and the union, who are in the midst of contract negotiations.

Last week, the police department posted a statement on its Facebook page claiming there were false statements and half-truths on the union's website. A notice on the union website claimed administration was trying to sabotage this weekend's annual food drive by not allowing volunteers to use the department's van.

Police administration did approve the request for use of the marked van for the food drive with the caveat that the driver be in uniform, according to Reichard. He said the uniform requirement was due to a liability issue. The department's Facebook posting said the van driver should be prepared to represent the city professionally and to respond to an emergency, threat or request for service should it arise.

The union has about 50 grievances pending, Brown said in a recent interview, almost two dozen of which are pending for arbitration. He said the grievances, which contain things like claims of unbalanced discipline or disputes over changes to training protocols, and the fact they have not been resolved, is an example of department dysfunction.

The Day filed a Freedom of Information request on Oct. 10 for access to the grievances on file. The city has not yet produced the documents.

g.smith@theday.com

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