The New London Police Department is hemorrhaging blue when it comes to officers; 12 of them have announced they are leaving the force in the past month and a half alone.
The defections leave morale at a questionable level and have sent the number of patrol officers plummeting from around 50 before the departures to near 40 now.
“That’s just not enough. It’s going to put too much pressure on the whole system, and we’re afraid that something bad is going to happen this summer,” said New London Police Union Vice President Dave McElroy.
But why are officers leaving?
“Obviously, there’s a morale issue here and a lot of it has to do with the way we’re treated on a day to day basis,” said McElroy.
The union admittedly butts heads with the Chief of Police Margaret Ackley, and the union officers aren’t too fond of how Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio is handling the department, either.
Mayor Finizio declined to talk with FOX CT about the staffing issues but did say Tuesday in a written statement that “crime is being reduced and patrol strength is adequate.”
“For the mayor to say that he’s OK with the staffing right now based on the crime rate is just – it’s irresponsible,” said McElroy.
The shaky state of affairs is only escalating now as the police chief has filed a lawsuit against both the city and the mayor.
“Here’s the third suit over the same issue and they’ve already paid out on the first two. It’s about as dumb as you can imagine,” said attorney Leon Rosenblatt.
The issue is the 2011 employment contract. Chief Ackley claims the mayor and city attorney misled her during negotiations and reneged on what she was promised.
“The misrepresentations are flagrant,” said Rosenblatt.
Regardless of the outcome, the lawsuit may be yet another addition to the turmoil surrounding a department that seems to be dwindling by the day.
“It puts more pressure on us because now we have to handle the same number of calls with less officers. We’re going to be forced to work 16 hour shifts. Working a 16 hour shift, sleeping five hours and working a 16 hour shift is not safe. It’s not safe for us, it’s not safe for the public,” said McElroy.