May 28, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Old Lyme First Selectwoman Offers Overview of Police Grievance Situation

To the Editor:

In a recent letter to LymeLine, the author asked whether grievances filed by our Police Union members reflected mismanagement.  The answer is no.  Management of our police department has been consistently professional, respectful and objective.  Although details regarding personnel matters may not be publicly discussed, it is appropriate for me to give an overview of the facts.

Serious internal discord arose in our police department which, by last spring required intervention.  An independent consultant was retained to identify the causes of the problem and recommend solutions.  All personnel were interviewed in confidence.

The consultant recommended, in short, that all members of the department should work collaboratively to resolve the issues, and to establish a clear chain of command consistent with our Resident Trooper program. This program is conducted under a contract between the Town and the State of CT for supervision of our police force, with the Resident Trooper in charge.  Other officers may provide assistance with tasks, but they must report to the Resident Trooper.

Our efforts to implement the consultant’s recommendations (i.e., to have the officers work together cooperatively to resolve their issues, under the overall supervision of the Resident Trooper) were met with resistance and refusal by some.  It was therefore necessary to make decisions regarding management of the department, including clarification of the chain of command leading up to the Resident Trooper.  The Resident Trooper then worked closely with this office to prepare for the busy summer, met with concerned citizens, and established criteria for assignments to assure proper performance of duties, compliance with the union contract, and fairness to employees.

Certain officers were unhappy with the changes made, and filed grievances.  In consultation with our labor attorney, these were reviewed by me, and dismissed.  Some were then appealed to the full Board of Selectmen which, at two public meetings, unanimously found them to lack merit.  Several of the grievances have now been appealed to the State Department of Labor, where our attorney expects them to be dismissed again.

In short, problems developed within the police department that could not be allowed to continue.  I and the full Board of Selectmen took the necessary corrective action. Fees incurred were money well spent to assure that order was restored to the department in a careful, fair, open-minded manner.

Sincerely,

Bonnie Reemsnyder,
Old Lyme.

Editor’s Note: The author is currently First Selectwoman of Old Lyme and also a candidate for the same position in the upcoming election.

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