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In New London: Police dogs for everyone

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published December 11. 2013 4:00AM

After reading about New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley's scary confrontation with the city police union lawyer - Mayor Daryl Finizio said he could hear the fear in her voice - I thought maybe the chief should be assigned a police dog.

You may remember how the old City Council passed an ordinance requiring city police to deploy a total of four police dogs. There are now two.

The mayor seems to realize he doesn't have the votes to recall the four-dog ordinance, which he opposed, even though a new and improved, more mayor-friendly City Council has been seated.

The mayor, in a recent interview at The Day, didn't say he'd ignore the ordinance but suggested the city has a whole stack of long-forgotten ordinances, so, this theory goes, what's one more.

This seems like a retreat from the mayor's statement after the council successfully overrode his veto of the four-dog law.

"We will work with the Law Director's office, the Finance Department, and the Police Administration to honor the will of the City Council," he said then.

Instead of now sidestepping the police dog law - at his peril, since I'm quite sure the police dog advocates will continue to hound him about obeying the law - why not find a snarly new dog and assign it to the chief.

After all, the chief's nemesis, Todd Lynch, president of the police union, has a dog at his beck and call. According to police reports on police dog bites in the city, Lynch's dog has self deployed out the cruiser window when sensing that its master is in trouble.

Chief Ackley's dog could deploy out her office door in the event, for instance, that she is scared by a visiting lawyer.

I know. I know. You would think the chief would feel safe anyway, being the chief and all and being in her own police station with a lot of people with guns and handcuffs and Tasers and the power of arrest under her command.

It's not hard to see why yet another lawyer would seem scary to the chief, because she has had to deal with so many lately, what with Lynch suing her and the city and her suing the mayor, the city and the city's lawyer.

All the lawyers - the city and its employees have three just to defend against Ackley's suit - could barely fit inside the police station lobby.

I checked up on the lawsuits to find that they are winding, expensively, no doubt, through the court system, with no resolution in sight for either one.

Lynch's lawsuit, which is essentially a laundry list of whiney complaints against the chief, alleging all kinds of petty actions by her, such as chiding the union president over where his cruiser is parked, is in federal court.

Curiously, the animosity between the chief and union lawyer started a long time ago, according to the lawsuit, which says Ackley complained he called her a vulgar name in a tense exchange long before she banned him from the police station.

I saw a 19-page decision by a federal judge exploring all the legal ramifications of the city's motion to dismiss the Lynch suit. The judge displayed a remarkable knowledge of the city's political gossip, from the chief's old war with former City Councilor Michael Buscetto to her snarky email correspondence about Lynch with a city gadfly.

I know. You would think the federal court system could be put to better use. But everyone gets their day in court, right?

Ackley's lawyer, meanwhile, has been busy in state court fending off requests by Finizio's lawyer to find out what corroboration she may have for her claim that the mayor told her he had the authority to pay her more than a thousand hours of extra pay, grant her $25,000 not to sue the city over her old Buscetto fears and to pay her enhanced retirement when she is gone.

I am not sure who is doing the mayor more harm, the combative police union president or his own complaint-filing police chief.

Maybe the mayor ought to get one of those new police dogs, too, and the dog could decide who to go after.

This is the opinion of David Collins

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