Police Union, Residents Seek Removal of Chief, Captain - NECN


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Police Union, Residents Seek Removal of Chief, Captain



    Suffield's police union is calling for the removal of the police chief and a captain. (Published Thursday, June 18, 2015)

    Suffield's police union is asking town leaders to remove the police department's chief and captain, citing unethical behavior and misconduct.

    Suffield Police Union President Det. Justin Fuller sent a letter to the town's police commission, first selectman and Board of Selectman on Wednesday notifying them of a majority vote of "no confidence" in Suffield Police Chief Michael Manzi and Police Capt. Craig Huntley.

    Dozens of angry residents spoke out as well on the issue at a Suffield Police Commission meeting on Wednesday night and called for the resignation of the police chief and captain.

    Residents say they're outraged over how the chief and captain handled a situation where a dispatcher allegedly showed up to work intoxicated multiple times. They called the internal investigations following it a failure. The dispatcher is now on administrative leave.

    Joe Adams, of Suffield, said he's had enough.

    "When they (police) have had enough how can the public not have enough?" Adams said. "I'm upset about how this investigation was handled from the start..... The commission isn't doing their job, the chief's not doing his job.... I would like to see their resignations... I would like to see them brought up on charges.... I fear that somebody's going to die waiting for police to show up at the right address."

    The dispatcher placed on administrative leave didn't show up at two administrative hearings, according to the Suffield police commission chairman. There is another one scheduled for Thursday. Four additional internal investigation reports have been filed stemming from the initial complaint.

    "We have no confidence. There's no leadership. There's no integrity. There's no professionalism from our top two," Fuller said.

    All 17 police union members who participated voted "no confidence" in Manzi and 16 of them voted "no confidence" in Huntley. Two union members abstained from voting.

    "This vote of 'no confidence' comes as no surprise after Chief Michael Manzi and Captain Huntley have and continue to demonstrate their inabilities to provide the appropriate leadership necessary to properly manager the Suffield Police Department," the union said in the letter. "The following instances are just a few situations where both Chief Michael Manzi and Captain Craig Huntley have demonstrated their lack of leadership, integrity, and professionalism."

    However, Suffield First Selectman Edward G. McAnaney told NBC Connecticut he has full confidence in the police chief and captain. He said the letter of "no confidence" likely stems from a federal civil rights lawsuit a union member filed against the town and union negations the town is undergoing.

    "This is offered in support of one of their members, you may know that, who is suing the town currently in federal court claiming that his federal civil rights were violated," McAnaney said.

    Suffield's police union claims that Manzi inappropriately touched a subordinated "in a sexual manner while attending a promotional party" in January of last year and that he violated town and department ethics policies by trying to give police department employees free memberships to the Suffield Country Club last August, according to the letter of "no confidence."

    The union also alleges that Manzi and Huntley didn't properly conduct an internal investigation involving a police department employee "reported to be 'unfit for duty'" and that Huntley offered immunity to a Suffield officer if he changed his statement in an internal investigation. It's unknown whether the police union is referring to more than one internal investigation and the circumstances are not disclosed in the letter.

    More recently, the union complained that Manzi and Huntley didn't provide the necessary support to a 20-year military veteran returning from active duty to work as a police officer in Suffield this past May. The union filed two grievances on the police officer's half before he got the help he needed, according to the letter.

    The union also said Manzi released three internal investigation reports in June that contained lies and information without sufficient evidence, according to the letter.

    "They're saying some of the things in the report are inaccurate and I really think we do need an outside investigation," police commission member Linda Stevenson said.

    Union officials claim that in May Huntley called Suffield residents letting them know he would be the next police chief and requested their acceptance and/or support.

    "Furthermore, it is the Suffield Police Union's belief that without serious change and intervention regarding the positions of Chief and Captain within our department, the Suffield Police Department will continue to operate with questions of integrity and honesty under the unstable leadership of Chief Michael Manzi and Captain Craig Huntley," union officials said in the letter. "With that being said, the Suffield Police Union request (sic) that the Town of Suffield seek the removal of, and/or request that both Chief Michael Manzi and Captain Craig Huntley resign from their current positions immediately."

    The claims made in the letter are just accusations at this point and are not confirmed to be true.

    "But these claims are simply claims," McAnanaey said. "Anybody can put them on a piece of paper and make a statement."

    Suffield resident Mary Robles wasn't taking sides, but alluded to troubles in the department.

    "There’s two sides to every story and then there’s the truth somewhere in the middle," Robles said. "I don’t claim to know anything but I know what ive heard and I just know theres been a lot of issues with the police department for quite some time now."

    Suffield resident Nancy Gegesky said "this train is out of control."

    "We've all heard about the unresponsive 6-week-old puppy," Gegesky said. "I can't imagine
    a dispatcher confused about a 6-week-old baby and a 6-week-old puppy."

    She said, "I don't know where we go from here or what we do," but she called for the resignations of the two police officials, the police commission chairman and the first selectman because "we've gone to all of them multiple times and we've basically been told this is not your concern. You do not understand. Well clearly we did understand."

    Suffield's police union consists of one lieutenant, three sergeants, one detective and 14 patrolmen.

    Both Chief Manzi and Capt. Huntley declined to comment.

    Fuller could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.

    The Suffield Police Commission met at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Suffield High School auditorium. They will meet again in 10 days in an executive session with the first selectman and plan on reviewing the internal investigation reports to discuss at the meeting. They also plan on looking for a third party to investigate it.

    Click here to read the Suffield police commission's full letter of "no confidence."