Groton Town police chief granted leave

Groton — Town Police Chief Michael Crowley has been granted a leave and has been out since Dec. 10, Town Manager Mark Oefinger confirmed Tuesday.

"I had a meeting with him (last) Tuesday afternoon; it was a voluntary request that was granted and it was effective immediately to address a personal issue," Oefinger said.

In Connecticut, municipal employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of family medical leave.

"I just hope for the best for him," Town Councilor Joe de la Cruz said.

Deputy Chief Steven Smith has assumed the responsibilities of the chief's position in Crowley's absence.

Councilor Heather Bond Somers said it is a private matter and the department will continue to run well.

"You have seasoned, experienced staff to step up in his absence, and things will continue to run smoothly," she said.

Councilor Genevieve Cerf said she did not know what prompted the request, but said, "I certainly want to respect his privacy."

Councilor Bruce Flax said he hopes the chief is able to resolve whatever issue caused him to take the leave and that he comes back soon.

Crowley, who lives in Mystic and has an unlisted phone number, could not be reached Tuesday morning.

The Council Committee of the Whole canceled a meeting that was scheduled today in the Town Hall Annex. The meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday.

Crowley has served 28 years on the Groton force and was sworn in as chief in October 2011.

He has had a highly decorated career in Groton. He served on statewide drug task forces, was a member of the dive team and bike patrol and graduated from the FBI National Academy, an invitation-only training program for law enforcement officers.

He grew up in Worcester, Mass., and served three years as a patrol officer in Hartford before coming to Groton. He then rose through the ranks before becoming deputy chief in 2005.

During his swearing in as chief, his comments focused on the virtues of police work.

"It's a team effort," Crowley said at the time. "I believe this is a noble and honorable profession."

He has led the department since May 2011, when former Chief Kelly Fogg retired.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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