Letter: Appalled with citys' treatment of police officers

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

It is absolutely appalling to me that the city administration is hurling accusations out at our police officers, many of whom have served our community for 10 to 20+ years, in a cheap attempt to discredit the police union and their documented mistreatment by the current police chief and mayor.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not naive, police mistreatment and abuse happens, and that I am a firm supporter of police accountability and the Black Lives Matter movement. I also know Shelton politics. I know that this current city administration will stop at nothing to protect themselves, even if that means tearing good people down, leaving their names muddied in the press and their professional careers in doubt.

They did this just last year in regards to the Board of Education. When the city administration purposely spent down our almost $12 million surplus in order to keep taxes artificially low, they then blamed the BOE for being careless with their money and overspending their allocation. They sued the BOE, Democrats and Republicans alike, in order to get their “side” of the story more press and to cover up what actually happened. The BOE in recent years has never overspent their appropriation, in fact, they return budget surpluses to the general fund every year. The city administration, however, didn’t care. They had a bogus alibi and they were gonna push it no matter what. So they sued the BOE. Many of those that were sued were volunteers, mind you. No one gets paid for serving on any city board. It is an extremely selfless act, volunteering one’s time to try and improve our community. They get yelled at, get nasty emails, and now are still dealing with this ongoing bogus lawsuit, all while the mayor had their names dragged through the mud, in order to score political points for himself and to save himself from having to answer where the $12 million actually went.

And now it’s the same story with our police department. On March 10, the state labor board ruled in favor, once again, of the police union. On March 12, everything hits the fan, and we all enter the ongoing COVID crisis. So what does the city administration do? They rent port-o-potties and close the police department locker room, claiming to do this as a protection against COVID-19 spread. This was not an order from the state, and no other police department from surrounding towns closed their locker rooms. None. This was unique to Shelton. The Shelton Police Union had had enough, so they took to social media to document this mistreatment, and they eventually held a very well-attended rally in support of their ongoing dispute against the city administration. Now fast forward to August; the two top police union officials are out of job, along with many officers who did not hide their support for the union. Accusations accompanying these officers’ dismissals are nothing to be taken lightly, and they will all go to labor court to be settled. The problem is, these officers and the residents of Shelton will now have to wait anywhere from a year or two in order to get any clarity from the labor board on if there is any merit to the city’s claims or not. Until then these officers are out of a job, and their names have been tarnished. Furthermore, the officer brought in to be deputy chief, to help resolve issues between the department and the union, has already resigned, after only a month of service.

I want to be very clear: wrong is wrong, no matter who the perpetrator is. I disagree with the police union on many things. Mike Lewis (the SPD union representative) and I have had many discussions and disagreements. But I respect the hell out of him and his track record of being transparent and standing up to those who abuse their position of power in City Hall, and I respect all our officers who serve our great city with their best intentions at heart. It is out of this respect that I support our police officers in their ongoing dispute with the city administration, and I hope you do, too.

I ask that you take any and all allegations against our officers with a grain of salt, knowing the background and the current politics at play. When it comes to particular claims against our officers, wait for the labor board’s official ruiling on all of these cases before judging our officers or looking at them in a bad light, and continue to follow the Shelton Police Union page, which is fearlessly speaking truth to the powers that be here in Shelton on a regular basis.

Matt McGee