Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cops working for our Tax Dollars

Three Officers, Sergeant Suspended

Actions Last Month Followed Probes By KATIE MELONE, Courant Staff Writer
AVON -- Three police officers were suspended last month after an investigation into claims that one of the men was sleeping on the job, and a sergeant was suspended days later after an unrelated internal investigation.

Though the police administration was unable to determine the validity of a complaint that Officer Todd Akerly slept during a training shift for a new officer, it found that he was "excessively idle while on duty."

"Akerly should have been more active in his shifts and not had such a large amount of time unaccounted for," Chief Mark Rinaldo wrote in a March 15 memo.

Akerly, 29, also was reprimanded for discussing the internal investigation with a dispatcher and Officer Jason Reid, 25, who was also suspended. The officers were instructed not to speak with anyone about the investigation.

Akerly was suspended for one day without pay. Reid was suspended for two days without pay, also for violating department orders when he discussed the investigation.

The third officer involved, Matthew Engel, 30, was suspended for four days without pay for withholding evidence that hampered the investigation, and for discussing the investigation with Reid. In deciding to suspend Engel, Rinaldo cited two previous reprimands and Engel's "past negative work performance," among other factors.

The investigation of Akerly was launched when Engel complained that Akerly, his field training officer, slept on duty during shifts between Nov. 18, 2005, and Dec. 3, 2005.

Engel had waited eight months to file his complaint, a decision Rinaldo chided him for in a memo, also dated March 15.

"More disturbing to me was the fact that during this investigation, you, as the complainant, withheld the fact that another officer had material evidence in the case," Rinaldo wrote. "In fact, you did not reveal this information until the final hour."

According to the memo, Engel withheld that Reid was present when Akerly was allegedly sleeping, and was, therefore, a potential witness.

Akerly and Engel could not be reached for comment for this story. Reid declined to comment.

Rinaldo said Reid and Akerly are outstanding officers.

"I think they just made a mistake," he said. "We saw some behavior that wasn't consistent with our polices and we corrected the behavior and we know that it won't happen again. We have a very young police department. This is almost a maturity thing. As time goes on, officers mature in the job. We're a paramilitary organization. It's an adjustment for some people."

In an unrelated investigation, Sgt. Brett Eisenlohr, 48, was suspended without pay for 14 days for failing to provide a medical note to explain his absence from a Nov. 3 emergency medical technician examination.

Such behavior constitutes a pattern for Eisenlohr, according to a March 22 memo by Rinaldo.

Eisenlohr, according to the chief, has avoided medical recertification training since 1991, when he was suspended for 10 days for failing to attend a medical response technician test.

"You have been previously counseled many times and in fact have been disciplined with regards to obedience to orders, yet you still fail to understand the impact of your actions on the efficiency, effectiveness and general good order of our organization," Rinaldo wrote.

Eisenlohr, who has worked for the department since July 1982, is grieving the discipline, which he has already served.

"There is information lacking from that report," he said, referring to Rinaldo's memo. "The only other thing I can say is that I've been advised not to make any other comment until we can go to the board with it."

Contact Katie Melone at kmelone@courant.com.

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[click here] for how the Connecticut State Police, the "Goon Squad" execute their agenda targeting individuals on their secret "Enemies List".

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