New London officer who faced investigation resigns

In this photo from April 14, 2011, New London police Officer Roger Newton leads a procession prior to a swearing-in ceremony for four new members of the city police department at New London City Hall.
In this photo from April 14, 2011, New London police Officer Roger Newton leads a procession prior to a swearing-in ceremony for four new members of the city police department at New London City Hall. Abigail Pheiffer/Day file photo

New London - Officer Roger Newton, who had been under investigation by the city and state after a man accused him of planting drugs, has resigned from the city police force.

Newton, a canine officer, had been on paid administrative leave since Jan. 6. His resignation was effective Feb. 10.

"Roger Newton is no longer an employee of the New London Police Department," Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio wrote Tuesday in an emailed response to a query from The Day. "Any investigations relating to his employment with the City of New London were closed at the time of his resignation. The City cannot comment on the status of any investigations by the State of Connecticut."

Lt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman, said Tuesday that an investigation into the city police department is ongoing and will continue regardless of Newton's employment status. That investigation may include criminal activity, he said.

The NAACP, which had pushed for Newton's firing, hailed the news Tuesday.

"Sometime next week I'm going to try to get with the state's district attorney's office," said New London NAACP chapter President Donald Wilson. "Somebody should be taking action against Mr. Newton."

Newton's resignation letter, addressed to Chief Margaret Ackley, includes a settlement agreement negotiated by the department's police union, Local 724. The settlement requires, among other things, that "all internal investigations will be closed without a final recommendation or conclusion" and that Newton have the option to purchase his department police dog, Kilo, for $500. The city also agreed not to issue a press release or hold a press conference announcing the resignation.

The settlement is signed by Newton, Finizio, union President Todd Lynch and union attorney Richard Gudis. Lynch and Ackley did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

Newton, hired by the city in May 2007, served on the union's executive board.

In May 2011, Newton, 27, was honored at the New London Elks annual Law Enforcement Night by his colleagues as one of the city's top officers.

Lance Goode, a black city resident, accused Newton, who is white, of planting drugs during an October 2010 arrest of Goode.

Goode provided a copy of the police video showing the traffic stop and arrest to The Day on Jan. 5. He says its shows Newton dropping drugs near Goode's car. Newton was placed on administrative leave the next day.

Wilson said he met for two hours last week with Ackley to discuss his concerns, ranging from the Goode arrest to perceived racial profiling by city police officers during traffic stops.

Wilson said a second New London man, currently incarcerated at Osborn Correctional Facility in Somers, claimed he was "set up" by Newton during a January 2011 arrest.

State NAACP President Scott X. Esdaile said the U.S. Justice Department has received a copy of the Goode arrest video. He said he wants criminal charges filed against Newton.

Wilson concurred Tuesday. "If they need a warrant, maybe Mr. Goode can go swear out a warrant," he said.

The news of Newton's resignation came just hours before the NAACP was scheduled to hold a town hall meeting about racial profiling, police misconduct and unfair hiring and promotional practices in the city's police and fire departments.

Administrative action was taken against Newton in December after he attempted to entice a Baltic woman into a drug deal, according to police department documents.

The complaint by the woman, who asked not to be identified, and the subsequent investigation conducted by Segar found Newton had participated in unprofessional conduct.

s.goldstein@theday.com

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