New London police union endorses acting chief for permanent position
New London — The executive board of the city's police union has endorsed acting Police Chief Peter Reichard for the permanent chief’s position and asks that the mayor appoint him.
The union delivered a letter to Mayor Michael Passero on Friday signed by nine members of the union’s executive board.
“(Reichard) has scored high marks not only with the rank and file officers, but also restored significantly better relationships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, local businesses, the school system and building bridges with the community,” the letter reads.
Passero, who ultimately will pick the next police chief, said the endorsement certainly will be given weight as the process of finding the next chief proceeds.
“It’s no secret that the administration has been extremely pleased with the operation of the department since the acting chief took over,” Passero said.
But even though the mayor himself has commended Reichard for his work at the department, he said the city will follow a fair and transparent process of choosing the city’s next top cop.
Chief Administrative Officer Steve Fields and Personnel Director Tina Collins are leading the search, which will include a panel to consider resumes and eventually interview candidates.
The city had received 12 applications as of Friday afternoon, hours before the 4 p.m. deadline for submissions, Collins said. Interviews will be scheduled after review of the applications and receipt of written responses to questions presented to selected applicants, she said.
The union’s endorsement of Reichard is in stark contrast to the abrasive relationship union members had with former Chief Margaret Ackley. The union had blamed Ackley for low morale and dysfunction at the department, as well as the departure of dozens of officers who left to work elsewhere. Union President Todd Lynch had filed suit against Ackley for her allegedly retaliating against him and disciplining him for his outspoken criticism of her.
“However, those twists and turns of turmoil have been behind us since Peter Reichard was named acting chief of police in January and provided a path for a fresh start for our rank and file officers,” the letter reads.
Ackley retired in January and still has a pending breach of contract lawsuit against the city dating back to the administration of former Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio.
Ackley had signed an agreement with Finizio to not only keep her from retiring but also to pay her $25,000 to settle a harassment complaint she had threatened against former mayoral candidate Michael Buscetto.
The agreement later was rejected by the City Council, which led to her filing a lawsuit in 2013.
Lynch said he understood that Passero would not bypass the procedure for picking the next chief but said the union wanted to make clear that morale is up and the department wants to “maintain the same course.”
“We know where we have been and we know where we are now,” Lynch said. “And we are certainly in a much better place now than we have been. He’s a fair man and I think he’s looking out for the best interest not only of police union members but the best interests of the city.”
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