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New London police union president files intent to sue city, police chief

By Kathleen Edgecomb

Publication: theday.com

Published February 27. 2012 7:12PM   Updated February 27. 2012 7:37PM

New London  -- Police Union President Todd Lynch, an outspoken critic of Police Chief Margaret Ackley, has filed an intent to sue the city and Ackley, alleging they violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

Lynch’s attorney Christine S. Synodi, who is with Synodi & Videll of New London, also filed papers in City Hall notifying the city that Synodi will be requesting all electronically stored information including emails, video and audio recordings and other potentially relevant evidence.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Lynch as an individual.

Synodi had no comment Monday expect to say “when the complaint is filed, the allegations will speak for themselves.”

Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio would not comment on pending litigation and Ackley did not respond to email requests for comment. Lynch did not return telephone calls.

The intent to sue cites two sections of Connecticut law. General statues 31-51q which was enacted in 1983 to protect employees from discipline or discharge based on the exercise of First Amendment rights in the work place; and section 7-424 of the Municipal Employee Relations Act, which provides for penalties and compensation.

Lynch, a New London native, joined the department in 2007 after retiring from the Connecticut State Police. He became union president in November.

Last month the union filed a grievance against the city, accusing officials of bypassing the union and dealing directly with two police captains who retired in December. Lynch accused the chief of forcing the retirement on the captains, who he said were “very critical of her leadership …”

During last year’s mayoral election, the union took out a paid advertisement lashing out at the chief, who has been in charge of the department since 2009, and alleging the department was in “a managerial crisis.” In a news story about the letter, Lynch accused the chief of running away from problems.

“"She had a pretty good ride for a while; she was the prom queen for a while," Lynch said. "But it seems to me the first time that she faced or was confronted with some adversity as the chief of police, rather than stand and fight, she tucked her tail between her legs, threatened to quit and threatened to sue. That says a lot about a leader.”

Earlier this month, the union also called for Ackley, to be put on administrative leave and asked the city to conduct an investigation as to whether or not she violated mayoral executive orders by looking into the immigration status of a homicide victim. Ackley had sought legal advice and was assured she was not violating any executive orders.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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