New London police union questions city cooperation as officers try to leave the department
New London - The mayor and the president of the police union plan to meet Monday to discuss union concerns that employees who want to leave the department are being denied access to their personnel files.
Officer and union president Todd Lynch said three officers who are expected to leave the department have had difficulties getting their files.
"I hope we are not holding these people hostage," he said. "What concerns me is that they weren't given any direction on where to find them (the files)."
In the past, personnel files could be obtained through the police chief, he said.
Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said he learned of the police department's concern Wednesday and will cooperate with the union to make sure that officers get the files they need.
Finizio said no officers are being denied their files, but that the materials must be requested through the Personnel Department.
"If they are being denied, it is because these requests have come during the transition from council-manager to mayoral form of government," Finizio said. "New protocols are being established for the processing of such requests through the mayor's office. When these new procedures are set up, officers will be able to request and receive their personnel files."
Obtaining these files, Lynch said, would be the final step before the officers could be hired officially by other departments. He would not say what local departments were interested in hiring the officers.
Lynch said other officers have expressed a desire to leave the department. He blamed the police administration for the departures and low morale but did not give specifics.
"We're paying to train them and they go fully trained to another agency," Lynch said. "Somewhere down the line, we have to look at why they want to leave."
Police Chief Margaret Ackley could not be reached for comment.
Lynch said its members are also concerned about the recent announcement of personnel changes within the department. This week the mayor announced that Deputy Chief Marshall Segar's contract was not being renewed and that there would be a restructuring of the management of the police department, which would include the retirement of several senior members.
"I hope the current city government isn't giving the police chief a venue to either retaliate or remove people that she perceives as an enemy," Lynch said.
Finizio said that allegation is "baseless."
He said the police department is going through a managerial reorganization and a complete internal procedural review. He said officers will have to follow police policies established by the leadership of the mayor and the chief of police.
"There may be those that disagree with the policy approaches taken by the department and the city's leadership," Finizio said. "Any employee that does not wish to support these policies and any police officer who feels that they cannot respect the chain of command are welcome to look for employment elsewhere."
Lynch said he is willing to do what it takes to work with the chief and the mayor to help improve the conditions within the department.
"We just want a better, healthier work environment," Lynch said.
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