Last night’s Police Commission meeting shared events at the extreme ends of the human resource spectrum: at one end, the commissioners named a new school resource officer to replace the retired Diane MacLean; on the other, they upheld a previous decision to fire an officer.
The meeting began with a Step 2 Grievance Hearing for Steven Zawacki. The former Wilton Police Officer was fired in early November after an internal affairs investigation found he had failed to follow proper procedure during a call at an underage drinking party and subsequently lied to supervisors about his actions.
While Zawacki was not in attendance at the meeting Tuesday night, he was represented by John Miller, staff representative for the union to which Wilton police officers belong. Miller asked the commission to reconsider their decision to terminate Zawacki, “…to be more consistent with the past discipline for lengthy suspensions and last chance that was not done in this case.” Miller’s remarks were brief, and he said he didn’t have anything to add in the form of evidence or to argue on the case aside from calling the consequence–in this case, firing Zawacki–’excessive.’
After a brief move into executive session, the three commissioners unanimously voted to deny the grievance appeal. Zawacki and the union may now take the case to arbitration and mediation; before leaving the meeting, Miller asked the commission if the members planned on providing written proof of their decision, as would be necessary “for next steps.”
New School Resource Officer
Wilton Police Chief John Lynch told the Commission that he has named Ofc. Elise Ackerman as the new School Resource Officer (SRO), to replace MacLean. He reported that he interviewed three interested candidates and Ackerman was selected.
“She’s very progressive with community policing and the kids–she enjoys doing that. She does a lot of things on her own time as well. I think she’s earned it and she’ll do well,” Lynch said.
Ackerman will begin her work in the district sometime in the spring, after training. Until then, SRO Rich Ross will cover all four schools. Lynch said that the school district has been notified and is “on board” with the changes.