Rally to support Shelton police officers Thursday

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — A rally is planned Thursday for residents to show support for local police officers.

Chris Jones, who has twice run unsuccessfully against Mayor Mark Lauretti and remains a vocal critic of his administration, is organizing the rally titled “The Thin Blue Line: Peaceful Rally for a Cause,” which will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Riverwalk, known locally as The Slab.

Jones said he started putting together Thursday’s rally after two incidents last week in which officers were injured while helping rescue residents. Four were hospitalized after helping rescue a 91-year-old man from a house fire on High Street on June 24.

“We ask our officers for help every day,” Jones said in a social media post, “and now is our time to help them.”

Jones, whose father and grandfather were Shelton police officers, said the recent bathroom/locker room disagreement between the union and the chief — during which portable toilets were placed in the department parking lot for use by officers — drew his attention.

Last month, the union filed a grievance alleging three female patrol officers were denied use of their headquarters restrooms while the 49 men had access. The police chief then limited use of headquarters locker rooms and bathrooms for both men and women and set up portable toilets for patrol officers in the parking lot.

“The current administration, especially Mayor Mark Lauretti and Chief (Shawn) Sequeira, are lashing out at all members of the department,” Jones said.

Sequeira said he denied any retaliation against officers. Lauretti has in the past stated his support for the chief, adding that some officers do not appreciate Sequeira holding them accountable for their actions and disciplining when appropriate.

Lauretti, a Republican, did not comment on Jones’ claims, simply saying Jones “has been talking about me for 29 years. Why would I even respond to him?”

Jones has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Aldermen as a Democrat. He has since changed his political party to Republican and forced a primary last year to get on the GOP ballot for Planning and Zoning but failed.

The police chief said his department is investigating photos posted on the police union’s Facebook page which the union describes as town officers changing clothes in the department’s parking lot.

Sequeira, in a post on the department’s Facebook page, said he was informed about the images of men and women with their faces blocked out which were posted on June 4 on the Support the Shelton Police Union Inc. Facebook page. The pictures appear to show male officers changing their pants and female officers in their bras as they change their shirts.

“Eventually, once our investigation is complete, people will have a clearer picture as to what is really happening here,” Sequeira said. “I would ask the public to not prejudge anything until we have completed our investigation and released the findings.”

Sequeira said police headquarters has reopened, with required safety protocols, but the lower level locker rooms and bathroom will remain closed for two weeks as renovations are performed to those areas.

Multiple requests for comment from the police union were not returned.