New London, Waterford, East Lyme police look to share arrest powers

New London — Drug dealers often cross town lines to sell their wares and now police from three local police departments want the unhindered ability to follow and arrest them.

New London is poised to become the second of three municipalities to approve an interlocal agreement that would allow a select group of police officers from New London, Waterford and East Lyme to be given full arrest powers in all three municipalities.

The City Council authorized Mayor Michael Passero to sign the agreement on Monday. It has already been signed by Waterford First Selectman Daniel Steward and officials in East Lyme are expected to take it up this week.

East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein said there have been discussion about a regional narcotics task force in the past and "any cooperative regional effort is certainly beneficial to East Lyme and to the region as a whole."  

Officers from the three municipalities already communicate with each other when investigations take them across town lines and they are then accompanied by the host town's officers. The new agreement allows officers to work on their own in the event there is no one available to assist, said New London Chief Administrative Officer Steve Fields, a retired state police lieutenant colonel.

New London Police Chief Peter Reichard, in a summary to the City Council, said the plan was legally vetted by each town. The agreement is allowed by a state law that “authorizes two or more municipalities to jointly perform any function that each municipality may perform separately …”

Once the agreement is signed by each town it will be forwarded to the local courts with a list of officers who have sworn in by each municipality. 

Todd Lynch, president of the local New London Police union, said the council's approval was premature. He said while the union is not against the agreement, it is something he considers a change in working conditions that required “impact bargaining.”

g.smith@theday.com

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