Union president Lynch sues New London, Ackley claiming retaliation

New London — One day after the city police union filed a complaint with the state labor board, union president Todd Lynch sued the city and Police Chief Margaret Ackley, alleging that Ackley punished Lynch for being an outspoken critic.

The 44-page lawsuit, filed Thursday, cites emails sent from Ackley's personal email account to support its allegations that Ackley "retaliated and disciplined" Lynch because of things he said and because of the people with whom he associated.

The suit asks for more than $15,000 in damages.

Also on Thursday, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio discussed the ongoing turmoil in the police department, saying some members of the city's police union are using paperwork to act as "obstructionists" when it comes to changes Ackley has made in departmental procedures and policies.

He said Ackley, who became police chief in June 2009, has worked to implement a community-policing based department, a change some officers who would rather "crack some skulls" have resisted.

"I don't believe that is the appropriate way to do community policing in the 21st century," he said.

Those who disagree with the changes are free to leave the department, Finizio said.

The suit alleges that the "adverse employment actions" used by Ackley constitute a violation of state general statute 31-51q, which was enacted in 1983 to protect employees from discipline or discharge based on the exercise of First Amendment rights in the workplace.

Another count alleges violation of a federal statute, Section 1983, which covers violations of civil rights, and a third claims Ackley sent libelous emails to "known political gadfly" Kathleen Mitchell, a city resident.

Lynch, who joined the department in 2007, was elected union president in November.

"It's regretful that any of these complaints have to be filed," said Gordon Videll, whose partner, Christine Synodi, represents Lynch. "However, this was the only way left Todd could address these issues."

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