Finizio orders Police Chief Ackley to return to work Tuesday

In this Jan. 4, 2012, Day file photo, New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley, left, watches as Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio holds a press conference addressing leadership changes within the New London Police Department at New London City Hall. (Tim Cook/The Day file photo)
In this Jan. 4, 2012, Day file photo, New London Police Chief Margaret Ackley, left, watches as Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio holds a press conference addressing leadership changes within the New London Police Department at New London City Hall. (Tim Cook/The Day file photo)

New London — Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio has ordered police Chief Margaret Ackley, whom he placed on paid administrative leave about 10 months ago, citing allegations of misconduct, to return to work Tuesday morning, the city's attorney said Friday.

News of the chief's pending return came about 90 minutes after attorneys for Ackley and the city wrapped up a mediation session connected to the ongoing lawsuit Ackley has filed against the city.

"Parties exchanged settlement offers, and I will need to discuss the plaintiff's offer with the City Council at an upcoming meeting," Law Director Jeffrey T. Londregan said. "After meeting with the City Council, a determination will have to be made if further mediation sessions would be appropriate or if litigation should just proceed."

Finizio sent Ackley a written notice that she would be reinstated effective Tuesday morning, Londregan said, and Londregan confirmed the date of her return at Friday's mediation session.

Ackley's attorney, Leon Rosenblatt, said Friday that Ackley will report to work Tuesday and is pleased to do so.

"For Chief Ackley to return to her job as chief is a very welcome development," he said. "There are lots of really good people in that department, and Chief Ackley likes them a great deal and admires them."

Rosenblatt acknowledged that the working relationship between Ackley and Finizio will likely be in need of some mending as the two resume working together, but said he trusts it will remain professional.

"Chief Ackley is a big girl and Mayor Finizio is a big boy, and I trust that they will get along as grown-ups," he said, "I'm sure that Ackley will just do her job — she loves her job and she is committed to her job — and I assume the mayor will do the same."

Through his chief administrative officer, Finizio declined Friday afternoon to comment .

Friday's session in Hartford Superior Court lasted about 4½ hours and included "some back and forth" between the two sides, Londregan said. It concluded with both Ackley's attorney and the city presenting their "final offers."

Rosenblatt said that while Friday's mediation session is not likely to be the end of the process, he is optimistic the two sides can reach "an equitable resolution."

Ackley, whose pending lawsuit against the city claims a breach of contract, was placed on administrative leave by Finizio in July. At that time, the mayor lodged a series of allegations against Ackley that involved, among other things, claims that she targeted union members for discipline, misrepresented financial information and interfered in contract negotiations.

Ackley has denied the claims. Her lawyer, Rosenblatt, has claimed her suspension was politically motivated and done in retaliation for her lawsuit against the city.

The City Council eventually hired Attorney Kathleen Eldergill to investigate the claims. Eldergill’s report refuted the allegations and found “no evidence to support any wrongdoing” or “just cause” to justify Ackley's termination. That report was issued in April.

c.young@theday.com

Twitter: @ColinAYoung

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