Chief Ackley has complained about harassment before

Margaret Ackley files a complaint with the city, saying she is being harassed and is a victim of gender discrimination.

Ackley also says in her complaint that she has repeatedly complained about the way she was being treated and that no one ever investigated her claims.

Sound familiar?

It might.

But this was not the complaint that Ackley lodged during last year's election for a new city mayor, the one in which she dropped a bomb and accused mayoral candidate Michael Buscetto of harassing her and interfering with police business, while she also accused city officials of ignoring her complaints about the city councilor.

This was a complaint Ackley filed with the city's personnel department in 2004, before Ackley became chief.

Curiously, one of the three officers Ackley accused of harassing her at the time was none other than Lt. Marshall Segar, whom Ackley eventually promoted to deputy chief, after she was made chief in 2009.

Last Wednesday, Chief Ackley stood behind Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio as he announced that Segar's contract was not being renewed, fired after a long city police career.

It was Ackley's promotion of Segar into police management in January 2010, out of a protected job as police union president, that made him vulnerable to being terminated.

Mayor Finizio has continued to refuse to release the report of the investigation into Chief Ackley's latest claims of harassment - the ones against the mayor's most formidable foe in last year's election - even though the mayor's contention that its release could affect a settlement of the chief's claims against the city is irrelevant, since he's agreed to a $25,000 settlement.

However, the report rattled out into public Saturday evening, and it indicates a pattern of Ackley crying wolf, claiming harassment when the professionals who investigate later find none.

Someone shared with me last week a report of the investigation, now long forgotten, into Ackley's 2004 complaints of harassment. It also details a pattern of unfounded allegations.

It was a thorough investigation carried out by attorney Gabriel J. Jiran, now a partner in the prominent Hartford law firm Shipman & Goodwin, a partner specializing in labor and employment law. Jiran interviewed 13 individuals and all female members of the department.

He found some general failings in personnel matters and noted some instances of issues that could make women uncomfortable, pornography being left inside police cruisers, for instance.

But Jiran concluded in his 11-page report that there was no improper gender-related conduct toward Ackley by Segar and the other two officers she cited.

There was, however, considerable friction between the individuals, Jiran said, principally over union issues, since Ackley had attended a meeting where she very openly criticized the union and stated that she did not want to be a member any longer. The officers she complained about were all union officials.

Jiran cites in his report some minor incidents that Ackley included in her complaint, including a time that one of the officers called her out of a morning roll call meeting for misspelling something in a memo.

But the actual instances of alleged harassment were thin.

Then-Sgt. Ackley was given an opportunity to reflect on the investigation and cite additional examples of the harassment (by the three officers) but did not provide additional information, Jiran wrote in his report.

Ultimately she did not give any more specific examples that would suggest gender discrimination. He also said that Ackley reported she had a notebook outlining examples of the harassment but would not provide the notebook to him.

Jiran added that Ackley also understandably contributed in part to the friction with the other officers, mostly in reaction to how they treated her.

It is troubling, at the least, that the chief has a history of making unfounded claims of being harassed. It is especially worrisome, given the way Mayor Finizio has been coddling the chief and quickly settled her latest claims.

There was little on the record to justify a $25,000 settlement with the chief before the latest report on her claims slipped out Saturday evening. Clearly justification for paying her off hardly seems warranted by the pay-instead-of-defend suggestion of the report, which found no real legal grounds for a lawsuit.

The latest report seems to cut through the bogus claims and whining of the letter of complaint to the city by the chief's attorney, which was finally released last week. Shouldn't a police chief, one wonders after reading the letter, be able to weather a little political heat? Aren't they paid to be tough?

I also wonder why anyone would offer a raise and a fresh employment contract to someone who has threatened to sue you, especially when you know the grounds for suing are so thin. I warn you, don't try that at your workplace.

And why hasn't the chief, who's been in charge since 2009, been held accountable for all the terrible police failings in recent months - the shooting of an unarmed man, the apparent brutal beating of someone in custody and the allegations of the planting of evidence.

Disclosure of the report on Ackley's latest complaints of harassment, apparently against Finizio's wishes to keep it private, could shed some light on why the mayor is treating her so gingerly, paying her raises and bonuses and assassinating her enemies.

After all, she helped get him elected.

This is the opinion of David Collins

Hide Comments

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments

THE DAY VIDEO SHORTS