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New London - The results of police investigations into officers that result from a citizen's complaint will be heard in the public portion of Police Community Relations Committee meetings, the panel decided at its Tuesday gathering at the New London Senior Center on Broad Street.
Before Tuesday's meeting, the committee was apparently unaware that it had been in violation of the rules governing freedom of information when it went into executive session to discuss the adequacy of the department's internal investigations into its officers' actions.
First-year committee Chairman Reid Burdick said he sought the counsel of the city's law director to assure that he was conducting business properly.
"Even if the committee believed it was going into executive session because it was discussing personnel matters, that was not the case," Burdick told the committee.
He said if the committee was discussing the results of an internal investigation, it should properly notify the officer or officers in question and allow them to be present with their own counsel.
"This committee never did that," Burdick said.
Police Chief Margaret Ackley, who expressed a deep concern for more transparency in the process, pointed out that once a civilian complaint is formally lodged, the complaint, which identifies the officers involved, is a public document. The investigation into the complaint is not public until it is completed and she signs off on it, deeming it closed.
Ackley said that because the investigation is closed before it is sent to the PCRC, the committee's discussion as to the adequacy of the investigation - the only task the committee has with regard to complaints against officers - should be heard in the open forum.
Committee member and former chairman Wayne Vendetto said he believed the case was closed only after the PCRC signed off on it, which he said justified discussing cases behind closed doors, even though the names of the involved parties were public at the time the complaint was filed.