Fired New London police officer gets his job back

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New London Police Officer Joshua Bergeson was back on the job Monday, more than a year after he was fired by the city for his alleged involvement in the beating of a man outside a city drug and alcohol detoxification center.

City and union officials both confirmed Bergeson was rehired after an agreement was reached over the union grievance he filed after being fired.

That agreement includes a nondisclosure clause barring either side from discussing any details of the terms of Bergeson's return, said New London's Chief Administrative Officer Jane Glover.

Officer Todd Lynch, the local union president, said the union had challenged the city's "just cause," to terminate Bergeson's employment.

"The union certainly worked hard to get him back," said Lynch. "We're happy he is back. He's a hard worker. He is a good police officer. His family has a longstanding history of dedicated service to the city."

Lynch said Bergeson's father, Axel Bergeson, is a former lieutenant and his brother, Todd Bergeson, is a captain on the force.

Bergeson's firing was announced in January 2012 by Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio following an administrative hearing to review Bergeson's role in the police response to a Dec. 14, 2011, call at the Southeastern Connecticut Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency facility on Coit Street. The center had called for help in getting Reuben Miller, 31, to the hospital for treatment of high blood alcohol content.

During Miller's arrest for interfering with an officer and second-degree breach of peace, witnesses said responding officers repeatedly punched him and used pepper spray on him.

An internal police investigation, however, cleared Bergeson and other officers of any wrongdoing while highlighting some breaches in departmental procedures.

The Dec. 30 report by Sgt. L.J. Keating found officers did not violate police department standards as it pertains to use of force. Keating determined Bergeson had incorrectly deployed his pepper spray, being too close to Miller's face. Bergeson had struck Miller, according to the report, because the pepper spray had no effect.

Finizio, in January 2011, said Bergeson was fired for "repeated absences from work and his involvement in the incident at the SCADD facility." Bergeson was the only officer of five disciplined in connection with the incident.

The firing came at the same time Finizio had announced the suspension of another officer who was accused of planting drugs at the scene of an arrest.

Bergeson was not immediately available for comment.

g.smith@theday.com

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